The Value of Critique for Your Invention
By Howard Lim
Inventing is one of the most gratifying paths. Although innovating requires risk, few other careers are as rewarding. Unlike other paths, it demands a certain level of vulnerability. Materializing a product from your mind’s eye requires investing a tremendous amount of yourself into the end product. Because of this often personal journey, some hold their invention too close to their chest which can work to the creator’s disadvantage. Let me explain.
One challenge frequently faced by inventors is a resistance to altering the product or the presentation of the invention. Taking an idea and transforming it into a physical, tangible, concrete product is exhilarating, and taxing, and draining and frustrating and brilliant. It requires a lot of oneself, in the way of ingenuity and of course, ones time. Correspondingly, many inventors are resistant to accepting any type of critique or constructive criticism regarding their product. When you've invested so much of yourself, it's easy to receive critiques as judgment or even as a personal attack, but that's the trick. It's important to stay mindful and open to expert opinions. Many view their product as an extension of themselves, rather than what it is, a product. In other words, I've seen individuals self-sabotage by being rigid and unwilling to receive expert advice from others in the industry or a related field (think packaging, distribution, raw materials sourcing etc.). Every great company has advisers in areas that you are not an expert in. I explain it with this, "if it's not your genius it is not your job." Build a team around you to give you expert feedback. Have trust when you delegate. In order to build a product that can rise above the competition and remain relevant in the marketplace, employ and surround yourself with those who make up for your deficiencies. Trust your team.
Inventors face the challenge of only seeing their product from a one way perspective - theirs. This isn't exclusive to inventors. At some point in life, most of us grapple with finding a solution because we are so immersed in a problem. It's important to stay open to outside perspectives and to be mindful that your customers view is outside you, the inventor's, purview. Remember to focus on the customer and how your product can enhance their lifestyle and deliver a satisfying overall user experience. Think about how it looks, does it look generic or sexy, and how does it feel in your hands while using it. Try to engage with your product on every level to ensure from first appearance, it's meeting the client’s needs and serving the purpose it was designed for with maximum efficiency.
Another challenge that's equally important to address, is when inventors with good ideas fail. Having an amazing product is a feat but the next critical step is understanding how to market and distribute it. An invention can be brilliant but it must be properly marketed to the appropriate targeted audience both demographically and physio-graphically. In other words, get into to the mind and heart of your customer.
It's important to have vision, passion and to remain customer-centric. Think bigger, stay open, don't limit your product or your business and reap the rewards.
Howard will be at INPEX 2017 for all three days of the show. He will open the George Foreman Inventors University on Tuesday, June 13 with a seminar on branding. He will be in the Resource Center on Wednesday, June 14 and Thursday, June 15, taking appointments with inventors that request his expertise. Additionally, Howard is the Co-Chairman of the INPEX International Jury.
To learn more about Howard Lim, click here.