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Tuesday, September 12

Invention is the mother of necessity

All of us have grown up with the adage - 'Necessity is the mother of invention'. But in today's world, maybe a 180 deg. spin on it is true as well i.e. 'invention is the mother of necessity'. I love this phrase which I chanced upon in Evan Schwartz book - Juice.

Look at the products, brands and services around us - sms, google, wikipedia, orkut, ipod, blackberry, et al. All inventions that have become necessities for some part of the world!
Now try writing a concept note for 'sms as a service' and researching an imaginary consumer. Do you think she would have given a thumbs up for a service where you have to type the letters one by one on a tiny keypad!

In Brand thinking we have always looked at the need gap, then went to the drawing board and arrived at the communication concepts. But in future, there would be a parallel space for brand concepts that cater to new, non-existent need-gaps. Know of any inventions looking for a necessity?


harshal said...


Also worth seeing the applications (and in a sense, needgap)

Seems much like the proverbial chicken & egg situation

pooja said...

True. I think we are now inventing for the purpose of luxury. Infact, luxury is fast becoming a necessity. People find it necesary to own cell phones with inbuilt cameras inspite of owning digicams!

kirtana said...

a truly out of the box musing!!

i totally agree.

prabsy said...

Why do you say in the future we will need to address non-existent need gaps. Didn't the Walkman already do that more than 20 years ago? What about 3M post its? What about the hub and spoke system that Fedex developed? What about the camera in your phone and a host of other examples that I can think of

Bhuvan said...

The thought is very true...
1. Necessity of one man to make money creates a path to invention.
LCD, segway, ect...
And 2. Invention born out of mistake turned into necessity.
3M post-it ect...

harshal said...

This post got me thinking a bit. In part due to prabsy's comment, in part due to the fundamental nature of the enquiry.

In many way, incrementalism or incremental thinking is the anti-thesis or the enemy of Big Innovation.

If you look at this paradox, we planners tend to do a lot of incremental thinking, generally speaking, as a tribe.

Most brand thinking is centred around incremental thinking; Say, this is the hair care product, that stands for such & such values. Can we also extend it to meet this needgap etc. Which takes us to product variants and so on, as opposed to newer (read riskier) launches.

Am not too certain how much of real original thinking takes place. Having said this, am fairly certain that there is a whole lot of superb work that takes place. (Not discounting that one bit)

This post, imho, entirely.