FAQ 10: What does an inventor actually do??

FAQ 10: What does an inventor actually do??

Lindsay Herbert, keynote speaker and author of the acclaimed book ‘Digital Transformation’ continues her series answering frequently asked questions on the subject of digital transformation.

Here Lindsay answers the question, “What does an inventor actually do??”


Hi, I’m Lindsay Herbert and this Friday’s answered question is about me! In addition to being the author of the book “Digital Transformation”, I’m also an inventor at IBM and people are really curious about what an inventor actually is.

I get asked questions like: “Do inventors still solder?”, “do they still build things?” and, in my case yes, I did actually solder and build things as part of my inventing process, but that’s not always the case.

Sometimes a patent or sometimes an inventor focuses on patent process. So you have an idea, you fill in a patent application, you go through all the different review processes and, if your idea is good and you’ve argued it correctly, then you can get a patent.

That’s an important process, because sometimes an idea is too complex to build on your own or requires too much resource and so you want that patent in place first so that anyone who collaborates with you (or invests) knows that you’re actually going to be entitled to take that thing forward and commercialize it.

One of the things I think about being an inventor in today’s age is that there are so many different resources that you can rely on and there are so many different people you can reach out to, who have expertise in different areas. If it weren’t for the collaborators other companies I collaborated with in addition to people both inside IBM and outside (including my friends, my own personal network) that was really how we were able to get across all of those different hurdles and troubleshoot along the way.

So, if you’re interested in inventing and in making your ideas a reality, don’t feel like you have to have access or the expertise of the resource, because you really can build it as you go, in terms of that knowledge and that know-how. But generally speaking, yes, “do inventors still solder?”, “do they still write code?”, “do they do all those things?”, yes they do, when they have to, because those things are hard. Thanks!

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