Breakthrough thinking

Writing that recent post on trends in tech got me thinking about where trends and new ideas come from. If you wanted to be the creator of the next big thing, what kind of thinking would help you figure out what the next big thing might be?

Plain old creative thinking is important, of course. The technical know-how to implement your creativity is needed. But what else?

One way to answer that question is to look at how things we use now may have begun.

Wouldn’t it be great if . . . ?

I think many great ideas we see as trends now probably started with someone saying this. Twitter, Flickr and many other successes probably started with this question.

That’s really great, but . . .

Dissatisfaction with something you use but would like to see improve is probably a big motivator in creating new ideas that take off. That’s where HTML5 came from – messy and chaotic as its growth has been. That’s where the ideas that knock a former leader out of first place come from. When everyone agreed that Internet Explorer sucked, people went out to create browsers that didn’t suck and we got Firefox and other browsers.

Half a billion people are currently using Facebook. We use it but we don’t trust it. There have been privacy issues with Facebook from the first, and they persist. If someone came along with a social network that did what Facebook does, minus the privacy concerns, it could be the next big thing.

I want to . . .

I want to be able to check my email from any computer. I want to be able to pay my bills online. I want to be able to back up my data on a disk that is outside my house and not on my computer. I want people to be able to read my posts and leave a comment with their opinions about the topic. I want to see a TV show on my computer or my smart phone.

Thoughts like that have lead to huge changes in what we do with out online lives. What’s the next thing that people are going to want to do online?

What else?

What kinds of thinking and questions lead to breakthrough ideas? Can you suggest some?

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