Early this week, I have been watching my world, looking for new problems where I can make a difference.
During this process, I noted several issues with identifying relevant problems which I thought I could address in an exciting way. A few problems that I identified were less exciting, because they were too specific and did not impact a large enough population. By contrast, some problems are clearly important, but many great minds have already been working to find solutions, and I didn’t identify a new way for me to make a big difference. For other identified problems I had come up with solutions, although it felt it would be difficult to turn these solutions into innovations this year. (For instance, several solutions focused on computer programing at a level beyond my current skills.)
Even with these difficulties I now have several ideas for problems and solutions that I think could turn into a plausible innovation. I have mentioned these to my mentor and we have talked about how I might go about turning a creative idea into an innovation.
3M is a legendary innovative company, and I know my mentor has several patent applications. Like myself, I suspect that 3M inventors are motivated to solve problems for a variety of reasons. Certainly they solve problems that improve people's lives. Also, working through the challenges of a problem can be rewarding. In addition, it is cool to be able to say you have invented a now commercialized product. (I hope to be one of those people!)
While working with my mentor I have enjoyed discussing potential inventions, as she has so much expertise to share with me. Working with others, who share your interest in science and inventing, is another great motivator for innovation.