How to Build a Culture of Invention

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Inventive engineering is all about bucking the norm. Where innovative engineering takes a product to the next level, inventive engineering introduces a whole different game. Part industrial design, part (not so) mad science, finding new ways to integrate computer systems, sensors, cameras, and displays requires a work environment that supports collaboration, risk-taking, and ingenuity.

It was this culture of invention that led to the development of a multi-region TV tuner, eliminating the logistical nightmare of single-region tuners for fitness equipment manufacturers on a global scale. And it inspired the implementation of our patent-pending process for protecting embedded computer surfaces from mechanical wear and corrosion.

Any company that promotes the idea of technical stakeholders working alongside engineers and designers can get similar results — solutions that solve age-old problems, simplify frustrating processes or launch manufacturers into entirely new markets. Following are our best practices for sparking the same mindset within your organization.

Build a Team with Diverse Backgrounds
What do you get when you pair an engineer with 20 years of medical industry experience and a computer programmer with a specialty in camera systems on a project for a construction equipment manufacturer? Let’s find out! The most novel ideas are born from matching capability with opportunity, and the more diverse knowledge base you have to work from, the better.

View Everything as a Process
The first step in effectively creating new solutions is to know the problem, inside and out. Then, work backwards. Outline what you need to accomplish. Brainstorm paths to get there. The biggest pain points or communication breakdowns in an existing process are the ripest for invention (or intervention).

Throw the Box Away
Forget thinking outside of the box. Your team needs to live in a world where anything is possible. Determine what people need, evaluate criteria, hypothesize, test and refine until a concept is born.

Follow Technology Trends
Create a think tank that analyzes the past and present to predict the future. Whether that future is the cost of materials, widespread adoption of a trend, or the internet of (all) things, a competition-killing invention will need to have a prime mix of affordability and longevity to make it in the marketplace.

Never Stop Asking Why
Keep the curiosity alive and the inventive spirit strong by empowering collaboration in the workplace, where individuals are not afraid to question the old way of doing things or jump in on a meeting to provide an outsider’s perspective.

Staying ahead of competition may mean reestablishing the rules. Build an environment where challenges are identified and evaluated constantly. You’ll find the possibilities (and profitable solutions) are endless.