“I use the same strategy over and over again to develop new product ideas for different industries — including industries that are largely unfamiliar to me. Yes, it is important to develop expertise, but I think most entrepreneurs fail to realize how quickly they can gain the knowledge they need to begin inventing simple improvements to existing products. In fact, I’ve discovered that when I’m too close to a subject, it actually becomes harder for me to analyze it creatively and think outside the box. Knowing too much can limit you by what you think is possible and impossible.
In reality, becoming an expert is as simple as studying the past and present, and asking, “What’s been done before? What’s being done now?” Tracing the evolution of a specific product has inspired me to come up with new ideas many times. Discovering the thought processes behind other new ideas in the marketplace is also a useful exercise. Consider checking out resources like the New York Times Magazine’s Innovation section where they ask and answer, “Who made that?” about different products.”