Planning Ahead - August 20, 2008

Creative solutions to tough times

Bob CondronAugust 19, 2008 

Bob Condron, CFP, MSFS, is a registered representative of Bridge Financial Partners. Securities are offered through H.D. Vest Investment ServicesSM, a non bank subsidiary of Wells Fargo & Co. He can be reached at 548-8875 or bcondron@bridgefp.com.

I am sure we all have heard Plato's saying that "necessity is the mother of invention."

It is in difficult times that we need to find our creativity, become more innovative and perhaps more accepting of new ideas.

The cost of energy has continued to climb with no real reduction in sight. Electric bills have risen dramatically with the summer heat and will be even higher this winter. Lighting our homes can be costly. One of the new ideas to combat the high cost of energy is the Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb. The May 2007 issue of "Popular Mechanics" noted that the CFLs used less than one third the electricity of comparable incandescent bulbs and could last up to nine years.

They may look a little odd, but the savings are undeniable.

When it comes to creativity and innovation, my neighbor recently shared his success story. He was working with a firm and over time observed a problem. The firm uses an assembly line to manufacture vehicles. My neighbor noticed that when one station on the line ran out of supplies or had a problem, it caused the whole line to stop. Management would spend time trying to locate the station and then resolving the problem.

Although each delay was minor, the cumulative result throughout the day was enough to reduce production by one or two vehicles. Over a year's time this could reduce production at this facility by 300 to 700 vehicles.

The solution was quite simple (if you are an electrical engineer). In his garage, my neighbor built a wireless, multicolor and personalized music system that alerted management. The lights told the manager what type of problem and the personalized music helped to locate the exact position on the line.

For this firm, the system saves $319 a minute each time it is activated. His solution was quickly accepted and is being implemented in several manufacturing plants.

My neighbor's idea was a big one. Your idea does not have to be on such a large scale but if it is you may want to visit the Web site of The United States Patent and Trademark Office, www.uspto.gov. On this site you can find information on patents, trademarks and copyrights. The process can be lengthy and difficult. I would encourage you to consider working with an attorney who specializes in this area of the law so they can assist you.

Creativity requires encouragement and a lot of patience to blossom into a workable idea. My youngest son, Corey, is always thinking of new ideas.

Now if you have been on a family trip and one of your children has decided to share all his thoughts on new inventions, you know it can be a little frustrating. Still, I try to get Corey to think through each idea.

You never know, today it's a new way to launch a water balloon over the house. Tomorrow it may be the cure for a disease. Think BIG and dare to dream a little.

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