I have always been a curious kid. I like thinking of new ideas and solving different problems that can automate tasks and lead to a better quality of life. As an IBM Master Inventor and a member of invention development teams at IBM, I enjoy ideating and creating new things using the tools that enable us to reduce them to practice. I like to do this with my team by using AI (artificial intelligence).
AI is a machine that has the ability to understand the human brain. Imagine a machine that can understand human actions such as interpreting human emotions, language, daily routine, etc. When incorporated with IoT (Internet of Things), it can provide a means for the machines to communicate with each other (with user-defined protocols) to automate or assist people with their day to day activities.
When we are thinking of new inventions, the end goal is to develop a proof of concept or build tools that aid to help people in the long run. An important part of it involves brainstorming new ideas with the team and listening intently to the problems we observe in our lives. We think of solutions to those problems from an engineering and inventive mindset. Devices are becoming more context-aware nowadays and can be leveraged to their full potential by thinking of new applications that can possibly be useful in the real world and increase people’s efficiency, thereby saving time in executing certain tasks.
Based on my experiences with innovative teams, I have observed three key personality traits among people with an inventive mindset.
Always curious, my friend snapped a photo of me observing a few things and scribbling on my post-it notes while at a restaurant.
Inventors are very curious about the world around them. They are always eager to learn new things, ask a lot of questions and try to find the answers to them. After all, if they’re not learning, they won’t be able to call themselves smarter than who they were a month ago. Inventors are known to be continuously learning, elaborating on details, reading up on new technology, or trying out new ideas. Dreams often seem to spawn from their observations of the past and present. They leverage these observations to keep their inquisitive minds pumping at all times.
Inventors are able to break down complex problems into simple solutions. Often, people like presenting ideas in complex details so as to appear smarter. By explaining their thought process or invention in simple words, they know that they can clearly understand it and their teams can understand it better as well. As a famous techie evangelist once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. Keep things simple. If you don’t, you yourself might not have clarity over the concept, underlying idea, or technique.
Inventors are not easily discouraged by a few obstacles they encounter. Even if their idea couldn’t move to a patent, they continue to explore and even discover new things along the way. They may fail once, twice, thrice but don’t stop until they get it. Their subconscious will gradually be picking up the way to carve out the novelty and focus on the specifics. The learning curve encountered during the process is worth the journey.
About the Author Shikhar is an IBMer based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Three years after joining IBM, he has already become the most prolific and the youngest Indian inventor at IBM. With over 100 patents filed so far, he helps IBMers around the world work on their patent ideas, the filing process, and creative ideation. On his spare time, he loves traveling (one new country each year) and exploring different places. He is a huge foodie, loves reading non-fiction books, enjoys composing songs and playing the guitar.
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