Two paths for invention ideation. One, incremental. Two, new.
Incremental inventions include a better tire tread, a faster USB port, a better smartphone. New inventions are first and they change things. Dr. Cooper, in his book “Winning at New Products” studies bringing inventions to market, and his counterintuitive analysis shows that new products have a higher success rate than incremental products and earn more money.
Invent to a small need, a niche that no one cares about and the invention is of no or small impact. Invent to a great need, to a robust market and the invention supplies income for the duration of the patent life and beyond.
The human mind can find inspiration from anything. Three common sources for ideas that lead to inventions: a necessity, customers and macro problems. The statement “Necessity is the mother of invention” holds truth. Necessity ideation expresses itself when a user (typically the inventor) has a problem without a solution. The inventor invents a solution. In the course of interaction, customers talk about their business problems. Some of the problems are worth solving. Concerns about climate change, poor water, lack of internet, and housing spawn thousands of new ideas and inventions.
An inventor that is not inventing or ideating with useful ideas and inventions has something like “writer’s block”. Unsurprisingly, the solutions for writers block work inventors too.