Barriers to innovative thinking
"If it ain't broke don't fix it."
"That's not how we did it last year."
"It was good enough for my parents, it's good enough for me."

Conduits to better thinking
Strive to make things better.
Never leave well enough alone.
Nothing is set in stone.
There's always a better way.

According to the StrengthsFinder test, (more info) Jim Watson's number 1 strength is Ideation - a fascination with and propensity for coming up with new ideas.
Here are the contents of some of Jim's great ideas. Below are other miscellaneous ideas.

Big Chief tablet cover/case
The cover would make a great case flap for an iPad or other etablet. Included - the Big Chief notepaper app:

Briefcase with retractable shoulder strap
It is common to use a shoulder strapped bag, but there are many instances when the case is carried like a briefcase. A case whose strap retracted into the case would simplify use and be more convenient and stylish. 2006

Christmas lights for a dog
Sew a battery-powered string of lights into a pet sweater - moving Christmas decorations. 1996

Cup holders on vacuum cleaners
This would encourage more men to help with household chores as they could keep their beer handy. The holder should be the kind that is used on boats - that swivel in all directions so the beer won't spill. 2006

Fitness and jogging tape
Strong beat and rhythm to motivate endurance running (I now do this with an iPod). 1980s

Home improvements
While remodeling a house in Edmond, OK, Jim implemented numerous innovations. 1995-2000
• Mailbox hidden behind garage panel door to minimize clutter and tackiness of store-bought mailboxes
• Clock face of kitsch items; sink with no visible pipes underneath to minimize pipe chaos
• Wheeled closet unit
• Lights on the closet and bathroom wall (rather than on the ceiling) to light the contents and the face rather than lighting the top of the shelves or the top of the head.
• Headboard lite switch
• Lamps in headboard

Hotel housekeeping cart
A cart that is narrow to fit into rooms, unobtrusive while in hallway, decorated to match hotel decor, and tall to hold more. 1995

Hotels in Las Vegas
Improvements including double deck drives - one for arrivals, one for taxi & valet pickup (as Mandalay Bay did later) and sidewalks over the entrance drives (Aladdin) to separate pedestrians and vehicles. 1996

Ice chest in a washing machine
It may be weird, but it holds lots of ice and drinks, and cleanup is easy - the ice melts when you run a wash cycle. It is fun to tell guests to go get their drinks out of the washing machine. Open House at 424 in 2000.
Febuary 3 2017: Live with Kelly did a segment on snacks for the Super Bowl. Kelly Ripa: "If you don't have a big enough cooler, you can use your washer - fill it with ice - are you kidding me? you can put all your favorite beverages in here. This is my favorite thing. Is that a great idea or what? That's a great idea. I'm pretty sure we are geniuses." Maybe, but 16 years after Jim.

Laugh tape
Just to inspire contagious laughter and better health. 1980s

A pill box system with visual reminders
One of the lifestyle changes one makes upon aging is that the pile of pills taken each day grows to the point of needing some specialized pill boxes. I take about 9 pills each day - 3 in the morning and the rest with dinner. Below left is one option I found to organize and simplify which pills to take at which time of the day:

However, I wanted to make it better than just conveying when to take. I rearranged the daily boxes in the holder tray so that their position communicated visual clues for the status of the pills - taken already or not yet taken. When the tray is positioned on the shelf, the sightline shows the full box with the label facing dead-on to the viewer, the half full position moves the label away at an angle, and the empty position places the label in a tough to see horizontal position.
Concept: rotate the boxes within the base to convey different statuses of the contents. Visual reminders of pills taken so far that day.

Left to right:
• Monday morning: All boxes full, labels facing user.
• Friday morning: Mon-Thurs boxes empty, Friday-Sunday boxes full.
• Friday afternoon: Mon-Thurs boxes empty, Friday morning pills taken, box rotated up to show half empty.
• Saturday morning: Friday box empty, box rotated up more, label away from user.
• Sunday night: All boxes empty.

Concept: a sphere aquarium that holds a plant in the top opening and an aquarium in the globe. The plant roots grow down into the aquarium where the fish nibble on them for food and trim them from filling the aquarium.
Date: While in college, room 4 of the Sigma Chi house, 1972.

In 2017, 45 years later, I saw this product with the exact same concept - the Water Garden - a self-cleaning fish tank that grows sprouts and herbs. In this aquaponics ecosystem, the fish feed the plants and plants clean the water - no water changes required. This closed-loop ecosystem is powered by aquaponics - the combination of aquaculture (or fish farming), with hydroponics (or growing plants in nutrient-rich water). The self-cleaning cycle:
• The fish produce nutrient-rich waste.
• In regular aquariums the waste becomes harmful to fish. In this Water Garden, the plants continually take up these nutrients as food.
• The clean filtered water drops back down to your fish, and the cycle continues.

Self photo morphs
Send in photo with what changes you want (less fat, darker hair, more muscles) & photo is manipulated to reflect that and returned in variety of sizes (frameable, wallet) for motivation and goalspirations. 1994

Salsa ranch
Soon after ranch dressing was introduced I mixed it with an equal part of Tex-Mex salsa - delicious. 1980s

Sensory Input Machine
Creative people rely on perceptions in their brain as resources for creative problem solving. These perceptions come from one's imagination creating new stored images from actual images previously experienced. Actual images are recorded from numerous sources, including travel, television, magazines, and movies. If the variety of experiences increases - the creative source file is increased. This can be an expensive and time consuming process and limited by one's environment and ability to travel and purchase media.
Can this period of experiencing images be condensed in time and broadened in scope? Could images of artwork, architecture, graphics, interiors, products, and environments be compiled and shown to one at a high rate of speed - long enough for the image to register within the subconscious? Like programming a computer, can a machine help program a viewer? Can the brain perceive 2-D images from a machine as if actually experienced? Will the images register as experiential memory? How fast can the brain process an image? Can the viewer control the speed of projections? Can the images be organized by keywords? 1980s

Stop signs made better
Go on red after stop - we waste much time and gas idling/sitting at a red light while no one else is at the intersection. Maybe we should just go - like at a stop sign. Yield to traffic with the green light, then, if clear, go ahead and cross the intersection (I came up with this notion long before people had cell phones in their cars and became less attentive drivers); Change all stop signs to Yield: a complete stop is often unnecessary, wasting gas, car maintenance, and time. 1978

Subway cars with themed interiors

To make a positive impact on the riders' experience; fun car interiors might provide a conversation starter, help remind riders that life is not to be taken too seriously, and help to brighten the outlook for urban commuters. There could even be product tie-ins to pay for the remodelation and provide extra income. 2005. Some options:
   Sports: Yankees, Mets, Giants, US Open, etc.
   Art Deco: rich details, pastel colors
   Manhattan kitsch souvenir touristy stuff
   Disco: music, mirror ball, 80s colors
   Jungle: foliage print walls; leopard, tiger prints, jungle sounds
   English library: Hunter green walls, walnut veneer, faux leather seats
   French Rococo drawing room - might be fun to see urban hip-hop fashions in such a room
   Space: Alien and Star Wars/Star Trek style materials and appliances

Texting lanes

Every so often, on Interstate highways, there could be a long single lane with concrete walls (above) with large rubber rollers mounted on each side. A driver could get into this lane, let go of the steering wheel, and have both hands free for texting. This idea doesn't solve the problem of ramming the car in front, however. 2008