“Innovating” the Innovators
By Roger La Salle
Innovation is certainly flavor of the month, if not the decade, but a question worth exploring is whether or not the conventional approach to innovation can itself be innovated?
Traditional tools ask you to find different ways to think about things. For example, use of the open question such as “what if” about a product or service? Whilst this may be an interesting way to stretch the imagination, it really fails to address the real issue which is the “why” of the “what if”?
Another common approach asks people what annoys or frustrates them and how resolving this may lead to breakthrough thinking.
Whilst these methods have great merit they don’t address the real question of how people interface with products and services. This surely has to be a good starting point and that comes down to observation. This is the real secret.
For example, the realization that a force called gravity existed was not an innovation but a discovery. It was the use people made of this observation, the opportunity if you like, that lead to innovations.
So too the principles of buoyancy, thrust, sound, heat, magnetism, light and the like, you name it!
All of these were discoveries, not innovations or inventions, but they opened the door to innovations in ships, submarines, aircraft, acoustics, navigation, flight and many more. The list of innovations resulting from discoveries, or perhaps of observations, is endless.
The secret that conventional approaches to innovation overlook is that of discovery, or as we refer to it “Opportunity Capture”, for without an opportunity there is little scope for innovation.
A better approach is to first explore the “opportunity horizon” and to look for areas of human interface with the products and services we use and with that in mind use one of the techniques we have developed known as “tracking”. This tool is fundamental to the art of “Opportunity Capture”. Indeed there are 36 trigger questions in the “Opportunity Matrix”.
In business, nothing happens until you sell something.
With innovation, nothing happens without first an opportunity.
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