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12. The TAO Design Process


How To Invent (Almost) Anything > 12. The TAO Design Process

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Having looked at invention from the analytical, scientific, TRIZ and psychological creative viewpoints, this leaves us with the question of ‘Which approach should we use?’ The creative answer, of course, is ‘yes’. All methods are valid and may be used in many different ways. Still confused? Good: confusion without damaging frustration is a splendid place from which to invent.

To help nudge the confusion in the right direction, this chapter offers an integrating mental model from which you can hang the different principles and methods from the previous chapters, thus providing an overall approach to creating new and wonderful inventions.

The problem with defining a process for creative invention is that there is no one right way. You cannot say ‘start at step one and then do step two’ and so on with any guarantee that you will be successful. The TAO Design Process is thus deliberately vague in parts, because to say ‘at this point, do this’ would miss all of the other possibilities.

You can think of TAO as standing for Thinking Around Objectives or you can create your own words. The casual suggestive nature of ‘thinking around’ deliberately contrasts with harder ‘objectives’. Alternatively you can just think of it as Tao, which means ‘The Way’ (We like ancient wisdom!).

You can choose to take any of the sections at any time and follow the idea path it suggests. Jump around, be playful, start one and then jump to another. Each time you work on one of the steps you should be slowly building a better understanding of what you are trying to do and have a better set of ideas about how you might do it. Don’t forget to take notes not just of your thoughts but where your thoughts have come from–or when you look at them again you may not understand them!

At some point you will arrive at an ‘aha’ experience where you suddenly see how to put your ideas together to make it all work. Don’t try to force this–remember what we have said about how to use your brain. If you are feeling you are getting stuck then jump to another step, take a break or consult Chapter 10 on getting past blocks.

If you follow these steps and just let your brain do the work of putting ideas together, somewhere in its hidden depths, then the solution will be created.

At first you may find this wandering around a bit slow and not too easy to put the various ideas together. Think of it as being like learning to juggle. First it is two balls, then three and eventually, with a lot of practice, you will find yourself juggling with all the balls at once!

Fig. 12.2 The full TAO Design Process


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