Have you ever seen a new invention/product/service and said to yourself, “Well, duh! Anybody could have come up with that. In fact, I had that same idea months ago!”?
I know—it’s practically a rhetorical question, right? I mean, we’ve ALL had that experience. We’ve ALL come up with the “great” idea, but dismissed it as being too obvious. “Surely someone else has already invented this.” We’ve ALL come up with the obvious idea.
And yet, “someone else” is the one cashing the checks.
Why? Because we discount ideas that seem too obvious. And that’s a mistake.
It’s a mistake because your “obvious” idea isn’t obvious to most people, for two reasons.
First, most people tolerate problems. They don’t try to solve them. They whine and complain, but they don’t solve. They never see the “obvious” answer because they’re not even thinking about the question. (The question, by the way, is, “How can this be better?”)
Second, “obvious” ideas ALWAYS seem obvious once they’re out in the open. You see the answer to the problem all laid out, and you think, “Well, of course!” Obvious ideas always seem obvious AFTER THE FACT. That’s why watching “The Sixth Sense” the second time isn’t as much fun as the first time; we already know the twist. [I won’t tell if you won’t—although, c’mon, it’s been, like, 22 years!]
I’ve always thought that one mark of a great invention is when, once you see it, you think, “I can’t believe nobody ever came up with this before!”
It’s all because somebody looked at a common problem (even a tiny little “nuisance” problem), asked the question, “How can this be better?” and then solved the problem.