Creative Dissatisfaction

I’ve always believed that the majority of improvements in our lives come from people who are not happy with the previous incarnation of whatever their invention happens to be. Let me put it more plainly:  Someone looked at something and said, “I think it can be improved.”

I know money can be a great motivator, but it’s not easy to force your brain to create something out of nothing just because you want to make money. Money can be a result of an innovation (thankfully), but it seems that there is a better way to pursue money. Don’t go after cash, go after improvements.

I realize this is not ground breaking new stuff I’m writing here, but it is a process that is often overlooked. It’s what I call creative dissatisfaction. And here’s how it works: Something kind of ticks you off so you decide to fix it. Before you know it, others want your solution too, and they are willing to pay for it.

The thing I that I enjoy about innovation, is how often someone finds a need no one else even thought existed. The i-Pad fills a need, but it is a need it almost self created. People weren’t walking around frustrated that they didn’t have a device like this. Maybe a handful of people did. But when they pointed out the solution to the thing that bugged them, a few million other people said, “Yeah, we’re dissatisfied with the current crop of tablets too.”

Television picture quality has been improving for as long as I can remember. And after each improvement, most people thought we had reached the Zenith of picture quality (pun intended). But there was always a handful of others saying to themselves, “It’s not good enough.” And their unhappiness with the current state of the art led them to improve it further.

Washers and dryers now communicate with each other about the current load of laundry. The washer tells the dryer, “Hey, I just finished 20 pounds of towels in hot water with a gentle cycle of fabric softening. I’m handing it over to you now. Please dry appropriately.” That is cool, but if you had told me that washers and dryers could be improved any more over how they existed 10 years ago, I would have found that hard to believe. How could they have gotten any better I would have wondered?  Now I await the day when the machines fold the clothes after drying. Only then will I be satisfied.

Our quality of life continues to improve because there are people out there who are still not satisfied with the status quo. Everything that needs to be invented has not been invented yet. Not even close.

But the next big thing will not always present itself as a gaping hole in society that needs to be filled. Very often, it will just be a patch to a minor irritation or annoyance.

So the next time you find yourself a little frustrated at something, realize that it may be your creative muse gently tugging on your sleeve and whispering, “Fix me.”