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Why to Avoid Playing “Mouse Trap” with Your Invention

Larry RobertsonAs a kid, did you ever play the board game called, “Mouse Trap”?  I bet you did. The goal is to construct a complicated contraption from the assorted parts and be the first player to trigger a chain of events that would ultimately capture your opponent’s plastic mouse.  People of a certain age will remember the mechanism as a design by the Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, Rube Goldberg, whose name became synonymous with overly complicated solutions to simple tasks.

Ironically, Hollywood often uses these overly complicated mechanical devices to establish the comedic genius of a character, when real-world commercial success demands the very opposite of complication.  Sure, it’s fun to watch Dick Van Dyke’s eccentric character in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” use his elaborate contraption to make breakfast for his children, and it’s amusing to laugh at the beloved Kevin McCallister from the 1990’s “Home Alone” movies, as he wards off an onslaught of attempted burglaries with his intricately triggered home-defense system.  These are funny examples of overcomplicating, but we see many serious examples in front of us at AON Invent, and in the inventions world as a whole – 10 pounds worth of solution for a one-pound problem.  And someone wasting his or her creative genius and money on a self-spinning toilet paper roll is nothing short of a disaster.  AON offers a free tool to avoid this pitfall: a self-evaluation guide, which is Step #1 in our three-step inventions process.

Finding the right balance between problem and solution is not always easy, but it is absolutely critical to initial commercial success and must be continually revisited in order for your product to stay relevant for the long haul.