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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics


Engineering Your Creativity David Fambrough

high tension power line towers shaped like reindeer

(Source: My Science Academy)

I know what you’re thinking. Who thought up this crazy idea? Believe it or not, it was an engineer.

Admit it. No matter how strange it might seem, the best forms of innovation are built from new ideas. If you’re like many people I know, inspiration rarely comes when you’re sitting at your work desk staring at a blank wall, or aimlessly exploring cyberspace while looking at your smartphone. Here are some tips to feed your creativity, get unstuck from mental blocks, and pursue your never-ending quest for ideas.

Take a Break From the Usual Routine

We’re all creatures of habit. As a result, we all love to settle into our happy routines. Want to get out of a creative rut? Simply try something new and break free from the norm. Open yourself up to new experiences: Listen to someone with a different perspective; go outside and sit on a park bench and watch others as they interact with life; or do something you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t for whatever reason. Doing something different will help give your brain a creative jolt for new ideas to fall out. Resist the same-o, same-o.

Create a Vehicle of Escape

It’s important to offer your mind an escape route. One way: Keep a journal where you commit to writing down whatever enters your head. Let your mind run wild, completely uncensored. Another common technique is to draw or sketch out what you’re thinking, especially if you’re not particularly artistic by nature. Doing both will help you access a different part of your brain and perhaps find an unexpected solution to a creative roadblock.

Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks and Fail Often

One of the biggest killers of creativity is playing it safe. Our fear of being wrong greatly limits creativity. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. Sure, not every idea will lead to success, but each one offers a unique learning opportunity. And it’s often out of this process of applied learning that better ideas or solutions result. Albert Einstein sums up this thought best: “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

Be Ready for Anything, Anywhere

Great ideas don’t follow a set schedule. They can occur at the strangest times: While walking the dog, taking a shower, having a dream, playing or attending a game, or enjoying a movie. You get the idea. Be sure to keep your smartphone handy and take notes and pictures to record your thoughts as soon as they come to you. That way you can reference them later when you’re at work. It might just lead to the creation of the next must-have product.

Keep It Fun

It’s easy to think why an idea won’t work and to cast criticism, but highly imaginative ideas are fragile. The surest way to limit creative thinking is to point out all its flaws. So, keep the process fun and keep judgement out of it. Give even the craziest ideas consideration before you start the process of deciding which ones you want to develop further. It’s easier to iron out problems for ideas you believe no one has thought of before.

Get Social

No, I’m not talking about social media, although that’s not a bad idea either. Rather, our ideas are precious to us, and sometimes best way to protect them from judgement is to keep them to ourselves. However, with a group of trusted peers, you can transform ho-hum ideas into great ones. The right group adds a different perspective and another set of ears and thoughts that can help you build on the best bits. As they say, two heads are better than one.

Now that I’ve said all this, what do you think? What ways do you bring your most creative ideas to life? Share your thoughts. There’s a reason I left the “get social” suggestion for last. ;-)



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David Fambrough is a technical writer for Mouser Electronics. He’s adamant that Lost in Space, Star Trek and James Bond have had a strong role in inspiring innovation and new design.


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