By Emily Moorhead
Research and development meetings have the potential to be very exciting. Testing new products, whether techy or utilitarian in nature, can be thrilling because you get to experience your company’s next product first hand. However, R&D meetings aren’t always fun. Sometimes they can be downright aggravating, with department heads bickering, products malfunctioning, and designers struggling to innovate. When companies take idea submissions from outside their organization, such as through an inventor, this process can go differently. Although it is still necessary to go through research and development, these companies suddenly get to work with someone else’s idea, one that seems fresh and new. When working with inventors, companies can benefit in many ways.
If there’s one thing that is consistent about all inventors, it is that they are passionate about their ventures. Passion is a key component when developing a new product. By connecting with inventors, companies have the opportunity to work with individuals who have the motivation and work ethic needed to get things done. Although some inventors may need a company’s experience and connections to improve on their product, there is no replacing the passion they put into their inventions.
Thinking Outside the Box
It can be easy for companies to lose sight of the consumer, their lifestyles and their wants and needs. However, if an inventor has created a product that fits into your line, they are more than likely a part of your customer base. Inventors create inventions that solve the day-to-day problems they are experiencing first hand. When companies accept inventor submissions, they are able to tap into what their customers feel a need for in the marketplace. Inventors not only give companies an insight into the problems or situations their customers are facing, but also provide unique and innovative solutions to these problems.
According to BusinessDictionary.com, tacit knowledge is an unwritten, unspoken and hidden vast storehouse of knowledge held by practically every normal human being, based on his or her emotions, experiences, insights, intuition, observations and internalized information. How does this relate to inventors? Scientists agree that inventors get their inspiration at least partially from tacit knowledge, which encompasses their life experiences, personal observations, individual talents and more. Because tacit knowledge can be difficult to share and no two people (or consumer and company) could possibly have the same tacit knowledge, an inventor will have different inspiration than a company or the staff on a research and development team. By taking submissions from inventors, a company maximizes its chances of receiving innovative products through tacit knowledge.
Innovation benefits modern society. By accepting inventor submissions, companies encourage inventors of all ages, races, genders, locations and socio-economic backgrounds to continue to invent and innovate. Some of the best inventions of all time were made by individuals, not by companies. Only by inspiring society as a whole to be innovative and making invention possible to average, everyday people, can improvements be made in health, science, infrastructure and more. The collaboration between companies and inventors encourages an atmosphere of innovation.
There are a number of companies that caught on early and have been accepting inventor submissions for years. These companies include, but are not limited to, Clorox, OXO, Black & Decker, Bosch, Brookstone, Cuisinart, Elmer’s, Church & Dwicht and Procter & Gamble. These big name companies are known for providing their customers with helpful and easily-accessible products that are intended to better their daily life. Those are the products that are often inspired by a perhaps mundane issue that a consumer faces, and they identify that there is a need for a solution. These consumers can become inventors and influence market trends as they provide companies with ideas for products that could change the way the average consumer conducts themselves in their daily life.
Companies should consider accepting inventor submissions because of the many various benefits to the company and to society in general. An inventor’s passion, ability to think outside the box, problem solving skills and tacit knowledge can have a positive impact on innovative companies. Additionally, by encouraging innovation, companies benefit society as a whole. Inventors can be one of the best untapped resources for companies looking to improve their product lines.