Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Watch and Learn

A poll “What sources of innovation ideas do you find most valuable?” was recently taken at Innovating To Win, and its results are not so shocking. The majority of voters find watching trends outside of their industry to be the most valuable source of innovation ideas.

What does this mean? Even though watching trends within the industry is important, most innovators are looking outside of internal expertise when looking for product innovation. I’m sure results are expected to change over time since trends are constantly evolving, but what’s your take on it? Be sure to take their latest poll What drivers of Green Innovation do you see in your organization?


mdeweerd said...

It's a pity that internal innovation source score so low.
Using internal innovation sources would be motivating for people like me.

Thiago said...

Thanks for reading our post. Even though internal innovation wasn't a top choice of the most valuable source of innovation, we can not forget about it altogether. Like I mentioned industry trends are constantly changing, and it will be interesting to see the results of this poll if it was taken a year from now.

James Todhunter said...

Actually, reader mdeweerd should take heart. The innovation resource hidden in plain sight is the internal innovation practitioner. Who is interpreting the data? Who looks at the enterprise's goals and maps strategies and develops innovations to execute to those goals leveraging concepts gleaned from other sources? The answer is the internal innovator.

External knowledge is important to break free of our psychological inertia and find truly novel approaches. But, the expertise of the internal innovator is the essential catalyst that brings the confluence of external knowledge into sharp, actionable focus.

Darren Neimke said...

>> and its results are not so shocking

I find them to be at least somewhat shocking. I'm surprised that the major source for innovation is not 'listening to customers'

Paul said...


Listening to customers is usually the worst place to look for innovative ideas, although if you mean listening to their problems and observing how they do their jobs, you can divine lots of things they need that you can do. Then you just need to prioritize by where the greatest unmet or underserved needs appear to be, and what people are willing to pay the most for.


Your job usually isn't to invent things out of thin air, but to figure how to address the needs distilled from the above process. If you think you have already figured out something brilliant that people will beat a path to your door for, then you should go start your own company. That should be motivating and invigorating. Companies that look inside for "the next big thing" usually end up following rather than leading.

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