Book Review


There’s a certain honesty to Changing the World One Invention at a Time: Acting on Your Ideas Using the Creatively Inventing Framework, by Richard Edward Rowe.

The book’s goal is to “present the information you need to transform your ideas into patent applications.” And Rowe delivers on that single, focused promise. He doesn’t say he will make you rich. He doesn’t even belabor marketability aspects of inventing. Just because you have a good idea that’s patentable, after all, doesn’t mean it could or even should be put into production.

Rowe just wants to show you how to work a problem through conception to prototype to patent application. Yet interestingly enough, his methodology works as a marketability litmus test of sorts.

Creative and analytical types alike should delight in Rowe’s almost Socratic approach to problem-solving. He’s into asking questions, deep questions that challenge assumptions. He evangelizes a type of cerebral patience and contemplation perhaps out of step with today’s fleeting, ADD Twittered mindset. But his is a philosophy worthy of embracing.

Asking the right questions leads to what he calls “the problem statement” that informs what product to develop and how to approach patenting it.

Take, for instance, pet toys. Rowe walks us through a series of questions a development team would pose in exploring what, if any, pet toy to develop. Among the queries:

  • What do customers like and dislike about current products?
  • What are the most popular products being sold today?
  • What market has shown growth in the last two years?
  • Which pets are most popular?
  • What are the biggest challenges for pet owners?

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Ferreting data from the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Rowe informs us that U.S. households spend a lot of money on dogs. Distilling answers to all the questions posed around pet toys, Rowe offers this problem statement: “Dog owners with buy work schedules and limited space have a problem exercising their dogs.”

His solution is a robotic chew toy. And he proceeds to walk you through the steps taken to file a patent for the product.

Fully two-thirds of the book is devoted to exploring aspects of patents. Along the way he demystifies one of the most complex elements of the inventing journey.

Both accessible and concise – it’s a taught 165 pages – Changing Your World One Invention at a Time could change the way you approach product development. And, who knows, it could change your world.