These three books contain a wealth of useful suggestions for generating innovative business ideas from observing, questioning, and networking with customers and others:
- “The Innovator’s DNA” by Christensen, Dyer, and Gregerson outlines a set of five skills that innovator’s use to develop entrepreneurial ideas: questioning, observing, networking, experimenting, and associating. They offer a number of suggestions for how to cultivate these skills. But even their formulation assumes a fair amount of iteration as candidate ideas are developed, tested, recombined to create novel value.
- “Customer Visits” by Edward McQuarrie goes into extensive detail about techniques and strategies for interviewing business customers not only to refine existing offerings but to identify new product opportunities.
- “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” by Peter Drucker suggests that you develop innovative business ideas by searching for changes that have already occurred but where the full effects have not been felt. In particular in “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” he lists seven sources for innovative ideas in decreasing order of importance:
- The Unexpected (e.g. unexpected success or failure of an existing product or service)
- 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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