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4.1 Tools for Creativity and Innovation

There are many practical approaches to being creative and developing innovations. Many programs and models encourage creative thinking. Some of the best encourage entrepreneurs to think like the stakeholders they hope their products and services will help. Human-centered design begins with empathizing with the people experiencing a problem or pain point. It continues through steps meant to clearly define problems and examine solutions through careful testing. Returning to empathy is essential in the human-centric design protocol. The Six Thinking Hats method of ideation can open up deep avenues of creative thought directed at solving problems by limiting the roles individuals in a group play. This reinforces the idea that creative thinking is a practice, that it can be guided, and that sometimes a combination of open thinking and rule following is ideal for collaborative creativity. The statement starter method of creative thinking frames every problem as though there must be a solution. This type of open thinking is an effective way to begin a creative journey that can lead to innovation and invention of products or services for social benefit.

4.2 Creativity, Innovation, and Invention: How They Differ

Creativity is defined as the ability to develop something original, particularly an idea or an artistic representation of an idea. Innovation occurs when an individual or a firm applies something new to an existing product or service that adds value. Innovation can be planned or spontaneous, incremental or pioneering. Some pioneering innovations rise to the level of being unique inventions—truly novel products, services, or processes that, though based on ideas and products that have come before, represent a leap.

The diffusion curve is related to iterative innovations versus black box innovations. Innovators and inventors conduct the iterative innovation process by engaging with potential consumers on a near-continuous basis in order to develop the product and the consumer base at the same time, thus bridging the diffusion chasm. Black box innovations either jump the chasm or not, depending on the social perceptions through which they are perceived by potential users, the quality of the product itself, and marketing strategies.

4.3 Developing Ideas, Innovations, and Inventions

Whether an entrepreneur has innate creativity or not, practice can help improve creative efforts. One practice model includes preparation, incubation, insight, evaluation, and elaboration. Entrepreneurs can use their creativity to solve problems and innovate. However, innovators strive to anticipate and prevent problems, rather than react to them. The innovation pyramid begins with problem solving at the base, moving up to prevention, then continuous improvement, and finally directing the future of an industry. Innovative products are DICEE: They are deep, indulgent, complete, elegant, and emotive.

Building and fostering your own creativity often involves linear and nonlinear thinking. Models are available that help develop inventions, such as’s five steps: Educate yourself, stay organized, conduct market research, conduct patent research, and develop a prototype. This model has guidelines for working with teams as well. These models allow you to apply your knowledge of creativity, innovation, and invention in an entrepreneurial context. Seek inspiration from inventors who have come before and learn from the modes of thought and models of practice that guide inventors today.

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