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Innovative Sparks: How to find inspiration for your next idea

Updated: Jul 20

#Ideas #Innovation #SDG #UnitedNations


What do the wheel and the cellular phone have in common? It may seem pointless to compare both technologies, but these are borne out of the need to address something. For example, the wheel was made in order to transport items easier, compared to the past when humans had to either carry or push heavy materials. On the other hand, the cellular phone was made to facilitate calls remotely. Both of these technologies offer a solution to a gap that persists in our society, and this process of innovation still thrives well even up to this day.

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Though making a new product may seem as easy as throwing around thoughts and turning them into ideas, the process of innovation is a little more complicated and harder than it seems. While innovation takes you through loops of ideas and revisions, it often begins with finding a gap to solve- yet, finding an issue to solve may be the hardest hurdle to overcome. Alissa Mariello of the MIT Sloan Management Review formally defines this first step as the Idea Generation and Mobilization Stage, wherein she mentioned in her own words that “successful idea generation should be fuelled both by the pressure to compete and by the freedom to explore.” In order to embody this, an idea must be novel and innovative. This does not mean however that one would have to start from scratch as they can even work on existing ideas provided that they can come up with a relevant addition or modification to the product. Whether one creates their own idea or builds up on current trends, finding this may be hard even for the innovation veteran. So, how does one exactly find that imaginative spark? Here are a few suggestions to start:

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Looking at your own interests Sometimes, the things that you’re seeking can be seen right by your window. Try to dig deeper in your interests and start from there. For example, if you are passionate about the environment, perhaps you can start with an invention that solves issues concerning water pollution. On the other hand, if you are an advocate for social justice and equal access, maybe you can come up with a cheaper and simpler version of an existing technology. You might even be inspired to do your best to work on your solution!


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Staying informed with the latest issues It pays to be well informed. You may always tune in to the news or social media to gather the latest trends and issues. One can also reference national international agenda in order to identify issues that are of interest. A prominent example of this is the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which is a set of seventeen overarching goals that serves as a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.” Not only do you get to work on your new idea, you also get to solve an important issue in our society!

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Collaborating and communicating with others As the famous saying goes, “no man is an island.” Especially in this day and age, one would eventually have to get together with like-minded people in order to come up with great ideas as a whole. Do not be afraid to speak your mind- everyone has their own perspective to share. Likewise, don’t forget to listen to others because who knows what kinds of ideas you can connect and create together. Just a friendly reminder though, don’t claim ideas that are not completely yours as it could potentially lead to a violation of intellectual property rights.


These are only some of the few ways where you can bring out that innovative spark. Creating innovation may be daunting, especially in an age where technology seems to accelerate more compared to the past. However, it’s alright to feel lost in the process, particularly when it doesn’t always come clearly. Just continue to push through with the right mindset and who knows, your newest idea might just be the key to the problem that you’re trying to solve!


References

Mariello, A. (2007, April 1). The Five Stages of Successful Innovation. MIT Sloan Management Review. https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/the-five-stages-of-successful-innovation/


United Nations. (n.d.). Do you know all 17 SDGS? United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. https://sdgs.un.org/goals


--- Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Ateneo de Manila University.