An Innovation Tool: The link between obersvation & innovation.

Start with what already exists

If we look up the meaning of the word innovation in any dictionary or anywhere, there is one word whose presence can be guaranteed in the description, the word is 'new'. And this word dictates our entire thought process whenever we think about innovation in any form. So, evidently as entrepreneurs when we take up the responsibility to innovate, we start focusing on something which doesn't exist.

But isn't it a paradox, focus is something which is hard to achieve even for existing things and we want to keep our focus on something which doesn't exist. Consequently, most of the times we find it very hard to innovate. An alternative approach which solves this paradox is that we shift our focus to the things which already existed.

Innovators don't just see, they observe

This has indeed been a key trait in most successful entrepreneurs, they are very good observers of existing things. They don't just see people, places, processes or the world around them, they observe it carefully. The habit of observation generates the necessary food required by our brains to create something new. Let us learn a technique that can help us make good observations and be good innovators. The technique involves applying an innovation tool while making observations.

The innovation tool

The tool, shown below, can be best understood as a graphical representation having a horizontal and a vertical axis.

Use the Innovation Tool

  • At the vertical axis we can put time and at horizontal axis we can put different perspectives which can be memorized as SPELT (Social, Political, Economical, Legal and Technological).
  • Apply each perspective one by one at the subject in any order as you like.
  • Use the time axis to first see the changes that it has gone through from past to present and then extrapolate the changes to have some prediction about the future.
  • It is possible that some of the perspectives or time scale will suit some subjects better and some others will suit a different subject better. Just pick the ones that give you the most interesting ideas.

Let's take an example

Let's take the example of shopping. Apply the first perspective 'social' to it. One social phenomena that emerged out in recent past is group shopping (although, the end user buys things individually but the underlying phenomena uses a group to get better deals). Now extrapolating it to future we can think of some more social interaction based on people's taste in shopping, maybe a platform that uses group shopping and binds people in a more cohesive group based on their tastes etc. and gets better user engagement.

Similarly we can apply other perspectives and generate wonderful ideas. This technique can be utilized to make general observations about interesting things or phenomena one comes across or it can be applied to a specific area, when one needs some purposeful innovation around a specific topic.

Comments:

Anonymous's picture
Another good one. Thanks for such insightful blogs...
Anonymous's picture
Nice article, liked the innovation tool.
rajiv k's picture
It would be great, if you could provide example for rest of the perspectives
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