I’m a sucker for stories about the lone innovator who struggles against the odds to bring an idea to the world; if there’s a documentary or a biopic about the incredible story of the misunderstood genius behind the humble safety pin, chances are I’ve already seen it.

I love the montage sequence in the third reel; the late nights bent over the drawing board, the frantic scribbling – it’s your classic ‘lone mind against the odds’ story and it makes a great movie.

But it’s almost never true, no matter how much we want it to be.

Imagine you want to design a revolutionary new chair. More comfortable, more attractive, more adaptable and more functional than any chair you’ve ever sat on… pack enough exciting ideas into one chair and Behold! The HyperChair3000.TM

Ok, so you thought of it, but do you know how to build it? If you don’t have the right kind of technical smarts, you’ll need to share your brilliant invention with someone who does.

Presuming you want to make more than one HyperChair3000TM you’ll need some heavy-duty production experience at the table to nut out how all the different components would be machined and assembled. And if you’re not an expert in material science you’ll want someone who is, to pick the right kinds of metals, plastics and fabrics for the job. Can any aspect of your product or process be protected as Intellectual Property? And if you export, will the brand translate into different languages without becoming a rude word?

Believe it or not, these are all design questions that need to be asked (and answered) over a drawing board – or regretted in the marketplace. Design is the process of solving problems before they happen, fixing mistakes on paper so you’re not making them in concrete. That means knowing how your idea will be built, used and disposed, which is why deep collaboration with a diverse range of experts is essential to great design.

It just makes a really rotten movie.

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Written by Jason Clarke

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Celebrated author, adventurer, gold medal Olympian and popular TV chef; Jason is none of these things. He is, however, one of the most sought-after creative minds in the country. As founder of Minds at Work, he’s helped people ‘think again’ since the end of the last century, working with clients across Australia in virtually every industry and government sector on issues ranging from creativity and trouble shooting to culture change and leadership.