5 sources of innovation ideas

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Innovation source 1: Lead users

A key source of innovative ideas is from lead users – those customers that are at the forefront of technology advancement. Such lead users may already be making modifications to your products or services to better meet their needs. They may have thoughts and suggestions for things that you could change to improve your service. Getting to know your customers can be a source of possible innovation opportunities.

Innovation source 2: Recombinant innovations drawn from other industries

Another source of innovative ideas is to examine other industries. Recombinative innovation refers to recombining existing ideas from different settings. Rather than coming up with something entirely from scratch, there may be possibilities to integrate together things that exist in other settings, but not in the market that you serve. 

Innovation source 3: Brainstormed ideas

Brainstorming can be another source of novel ideas. Brainstorming works by drawing from the different experiences of individuals in the group. This can generate ideas that combine from the different experiences – potentially recombining ideas that group members have seen or experienced themselves in different settings. 

Innovation source 4: Considering different business models

Another source of innovation is to examine if there are alternative business models that you can use. Business model innovations refer to changes in the ways that the goods are sold and how you make your money. For example, rather than selling the product directly and making money from the upfront sales, there may be opportunities to change the business model and make returns via a subscription fee.

Innovation source 5: Understanding why non-consumers are not buying a product

A final approach for developing innovative ideas is to get to understand non-customers – those potential customers that are currently not purchasing products from you or other firms. There may be a whole group of customers that the current products don’t meet the needs of – potentially because of specific customer needs or because the current price point is prohibitively high. Understanding why such customers are not purchasing can spur ideas for how to change the products to meet their different needs.