The design process consists of defining a problem we have identified, exploring different alternatives for solving it, and choosing a plan to follow.
This process is repeated until we find the best solution.
But before we can solve a problem, we have to identify alternative solutions. This is the second step in the design process.
Exploring alternative solutions to the problem helps you to see possible solutions from many angles. By exploring, you can begin to identify and work towards a plan to solve the problem.
To explore solutions to the problem, break down the mental patterns you believe to be 'givens' about the current problem. What is assumed? What can be changed. By dividing the problem in many ways, we can start to envision a solution.
*Figure 5-1 from Aliverti, Maietta, and Di Justo (2015), The Maker's Manual: A Pracitical Guide to the New Industrial Revolution.
Successful innovations that upturn the market are also sometimes referred to as disruptive innovations. In the business world, “disruption” describes a process whereby a company with fewer resources is able to successfully challenge established businesses. Specifically, as companies focus on improving their products and services, they ignore the needs of others. New companies successfully target the overlooked segments and become successful by delivering more-suitable functionality—frequently at a lower price.
A patent is a form of intellectual property. A patent gives its owner the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, and importing an invention for a limited period of time, usually twenty years. By browsing patents, you can see how other innovators have tried to solve a similar problem.