Examination checklist [Invention Cycle]

We’re on our last stage of the invention cycle, and it’s probably the most important for quality control. And, in our humble opinion, it’s also the most fun part. You get to test what you just conceived and see how well — or how bad — it works. This is your time to put your creation to the test and make it live up to your standards.

Examination is counterpart to the testing, so knowing what results you’re looking for is important before you start. It’s actually better to start a list of what results you want when you first start looking into the problem. From the very beginning you know what is wrong, so you’ll have a fresh concept of what you’re looking for in the end. They key is to write down everything you can think of from form to function. Regardless, start with the basics: What is wrong, and what results you want from the experiment.

You’ll come back to this list often for refining, so don’t be afraid to add more things, cross things out, and re-add them as necessary. Refining is actually easier than you might think, and it only takes the basic question words you already know: who, what, where, when, why, how, and so what. By answering these questions you’ll be adding depth to your project and making it into something marketable.

  • Who: Who is this for? What type of person does this solve a problem for? This project is for you, and will solve a problem you have. However, despite of the addage ‘you are unique, just like everyone else’, there is bound to be someone else with a similar problem, if not the exact same one. Keep your prospective audience in mind while you develop your list.

  • What: What is this going to accomplish? What does this invention do? What does this part of the adjustments do for the end results? At every turn ask yourself these questions and you’ll have a pretty good idea of where you’re going at every turn. It can also have an unexpected benefit of keeping a notebook of further ideas for inventions.

  • Where: Where is this product going to be used? Sit back for a moment and think about where this mad creation can be used. What sort of conditions are there that it is going to have to withstand? Answering questions like these will help you make a strong, stable, and very usable product that is top quality in the end.

  • When: When is this going to be used? At the beach? At a swingin’ party? The answers to these will help you focus your market, which can also help design the form and function of the whole package.

  • Why: Why are you making this? Curiosity, passion, and a need to solve a problem are a given. Look a little deeper here and ask if you are making this for yourself, a small audience, or a huge market deal. Look at the end game and see how invested you are in this project. The answer will take you into various realms of business with lots of solutions.

  • How: How, exactly, do you imagine this invention working? If it doesn’t meet your standards, go back to the beginning of the cycle and work on the details until you get it working just like you want it. Don’t give up quality for a “it’ll do” unless you’re working on a beta testing product.

  • So what? So what is that all encompassing question of why you’re going through all this. Inventing is a long, frustrating, and often expensive. Very, very, very expensive. Not to sugar coat it, but unless you have a good reason behind doing all this, you’re likely going to give in. So, ask yourself the hard questions. Ask yourself: So…. what?

Inventing is a process that is tough on the mind, body, and pocket book. We’re here to help you through parts of it, but in the end, the reserve has to come from within. You ready?

Previous: Invention Process

Finding a problem to solve

Researching a problem

Draft and design

Next: Using Creative Commons with your inventions

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