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This is an interesting take on (b) overlooked problems:

A few years ago, Gary Hamel and colleagues analyzed more than a hundred cases of business innovation to learn why some individuals, at certain points in time, are able to see opportunities that are invisible to everyone else. They learned that you need to pay close attention to four things that usually go unnoticed:

1. Unchallenged orthodoxies—the widely held industry beliefs that blind incumbents to new opportunities.

2. Underleveraged competencies—the “invisible” assets and competencies, locked up in moribund businesses, that can be repurposed as new growth platforms.

3. Underappreciated trends—the nascent discontinuities that can be harnessed to reinvigorate old business models and create new ones.

4. Unarticulated needs—the frustrations and inconveniences that customers take for granted, and industry stalwarts have thus far failed to address.

original @ http://discussionleader.hbsp.com/hamel/2008/01/innovation_ha...)




This is a great list and nicely expands "(b) overlooked problems." In his book "Innovation and Entrepreneurship" Peter Drucker offered the following observation on the frame of mind need to spot opportunities for innovation.

"Innovation requires us to systematically identify changes that have already occurred but whose full effects have not yet been felt, and then to look at them as opportunities. It also requires existing companies to abandon rather than defend yesterday."

He goes on to suggest seven places to search systematically for opportunities

  The Unexpected
  The Incongruous
  Weak Link In Existing Process
  Industry Or Market Structure Change
  Demographics: Size, Age Structure
  New Zeitgeist: Perception, Mood, Meaning
  New Knowledge




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