I am often asked my advice on how to succeed as an inventor. More than 30 years of experience have given me a few insights. To wit: invention is a lot like surfing; you have to catch the wave at the right time.

This is why I have become an ardent student of technology trends. I now have a research staff that gathers data on a broad variety of technologies, and I develop mathematical models of how technology in different areas evolves. These models show that the pace of innovation itself is doubling every decade.



As we approach the steep part of technology’s exponential growth, timing becomes ever more crucial in successfully developing and introducing an invention. You need to aim your invention at the world of the future, not the world that exists when your research project is launched. Inevitably, the world will be a different place when you seek to introduce your innovation. Everything changes—market needs, competition, channels of distribution, development tools, and enabling technologies.



To time an invention properly, you need to consider its entire life cycle. We can identify seven stages in the evolution of a technology: precursor, invention, development, maturity, false pretenders, obsolescence, and antiquity. An invention will thrive, becoming a successful product, only if the crucial phases—precursor, invention, development, and maturity—are attended to.



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