Invent new ideas, exercise your brainpower, and have fun while you’re at it! There are many problem-solving techniques and idea-generating techniques you can use. One of the easiest, however, is to simply find new applications for existing ideas, products, services and systems.
This technique can be used to come up with new ideas in any area of life. Take an existing product, like a raincoat, for example. It takes just a minute or two to come up with new applications. How about a line of raincoats for dogs and cats? Raincoats for cattle? Maybe they lose valuable weight burning calories to stay warm during cold rains.
Evaluating the new ideas you come up with is another process. It is best left for later, if you don’t want to stifle your creativity. You only need one or two good ideas to make the effort worthwhile, and having a hundred ideas to choose from makes finding a few good ones more likely.
I saw an ad for a company that uses a dog to find mold in your house. Dogs can sniff out almost anything, and it reminded me of the news story from a while back, about a dog that could detect if you had cancer. My next thought was, “I wonder what else they could be used to find?” One idea that came to mind was to use dogs to find people’s lost pets. They track lost criminals so well, so why not a service to find lost pets? A sniff of the lost cats favorite rug, and the dog is on the trail.
New Ideas Beyond Inventions and Business
It’s easy to concentrate on the invention and business applications. Perhaps these are the easiest areas to come up with new ideas in. However, that doesn’t mean this technique won’t work well in other areas.
Recently I applied Darwin’s theory of natural selection to my clothing selection. No more sorting laundry! The clothes that don’t survive the wash process are tossed and the ones that do are replicated when I buy new clothes. The ones that still fit survive. Survival of the fittest!
I once read about children who were tested for their ability to delay gratification. They were put into a playroom and at some point offered candy, but told they could have one piece now, or wait fifteen minutes and get two pieces. Some waited, and some didn’t. The children who could consistently delay gratification were tracked over the years. They were found to be more successful and happier.
What are some new applications for this idea? Hmm… Test all kids and sell a list of the impulsive ones to big companies who can sell stuff to them all their lives. More seriously, what if more tests like this were done, in order to put together a list of “happiness factors?” Perhaps it would lead to a more systemic and scientific way to raise happy kids.
Do you want some exercises to test this technique on? Think of a new use for paper. Find a new application for the idea of selling by phone. Think of several new uses for socks. Imagine how the idea of positive thinking could be applied to making animals happier. Try this technique, and you’ll see how easy it can be to come up with new ideas.