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That might not be what you want to hear from the guy clearing your plane for take-off, but if your fellow passengers are elderly billionaires or some Cold War-era Soviet engineers, they might rest easy knowing the right questions are being asked. That is because thinking about how to do the exact opposite of your goal is sometimes the best way to ensure you achieve it.
Genrich Altshuller had a passion for innovation and received his first engineering patent at the age of 17. He followed his calling and went on to study engineering in order to become a Soviet Navy patent officer.
This position allowed him to see a wide range of patents, and being curious, he took a critical eye to the uniqueness of every “new” invention. His analysis eventually led to the conclusion that most of the work being done between different fields — biology, physics, chemistry, engineering, etc — consisted of duplicative invention due to the inventor’s ignorance of developments outside of his or her primary field.