When we talk of inventions which have either touched or changed our lives, we often praise the inventor for "thinking out of the box." How do these people think of a new invention idea by thinking out of the box? Is it possible for you and me to do it too? To know this we have to know what the "box" is so that we can think beyond it. The "box" is the way things are, and the way we have been tutored to view things. There are several factors which determine the way we look at things. Thus the first step to start thinking beyond the normal is to identify and challenge our own views and perceptions.
The entire process of challenging preconceived notions, established norms and usual assumptions is a very powerful and creative way to solve a problem, because walking on the much-treaded patch is safe, though boring. For instance, when you think of a domestic air-conditioner, what are the assumptions? Cooling, auto switch off, silent, it has to run on electricity, and so on. What if someone thought of ways to manufacture an air-conditioner which ran on something else which is more organic and saved on power consumption? Another way to think of a new invention idea is to think the very absurd. One needs a very open mind for this as the process can both be fun as well as irritating. There could be hundreds of completely absurd solutions to a problem, but one of them could be a genuinely new invention idea. Start with a "what if" question and you will be surprised at the number of absurd answers you could arrive at.
There is a literal way of thinking out of the box and that is to get out of your home or office and watch the way people live, behave and communicate. The story of the shoe salesman comes to mind. This man went to Africa to sell shoes, a country where people never wore them. By thinking out of the box, he thought of the idea of selling his first pair to a curious buyer by highlighting its heat resisting abilities and ensuing comfort to his feet. The shoe salesman soon opened shop and became a millionaire. There are many stories like this and as the saying goes, you can actually sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo, provided you can invent some way to convince him of its utility.
Concepts like division, subtraction, temperature control, colorful all trigger great invention ideas; make a large table foldable to make more space for utility purposes; take away two legs from another to enable faster cleaning; add color to domestic utility items and make them inter-changeable; ideas like these will flow once you think deeper and harder at the common daily objects and ideas for new inventions will be a knock away!