How to Find Innovative Ideas? From Analogous Markets...

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Disruptive Innovation > Best Practices > How to Find Innovative Ideas? From Analogous Markets...

How to Find Innovative Ideas? From Analogous Markets...
Anneke Zwart, Student (University), Netherlands, Moderator
When trying to find innovative ideas for your organization, several studies have revealed that it is highly valuable to access expertise from outside your area of expertise. This is - according to Frane, Poetz and Schreier (2013) - because the degree of novelty of solutions increases with the conceptual distance from the problem. They promote accessing exercise from so-called ‘analogous fields’, which means those fields that seem to be different at first sight but actually share similarities on a deep structural level. How can one find those fields and experts that actually are similar on this deep structural level? They give guidelines to find analogous fields and the experts in them:
1. ARTICULATING THE ESSENCE: before you start searching it is important to remove the unimportant details so that the structural levels of the problem can be clearly identified. Then it is important to provide a clear description of the actual problem, so that people with a conceptual distance from the problem can understand the problem.
2. SEARCHING FOR CREATIVES: it is recommended to find creative people or people that are able to solve similar issues in their own fields of expertise.
3. LOVE THE FUZZY: This guideline means that the participants should not be knowledgeable of the client and/or the exact issue. This makes them more unconstrained in providing their own perspectives and insights.
4. FOSTER INTERACTION: Since analogous-field thinkers are probably not familiar with the target market, it is important to foster interaction between analogous-field thinkers and problem solvers from the target market. In this way, the analogous-field thinkers become more familiar with the problem.
5. SEEK HIGH STAKES FIELDS: searching for high-stakes fields or fields that are more sophisticated than yours can be useful, as those players are able to offer a large array of well-tested solutions.
To what extent do you think that those guidelines will help you find radical solutions and innovations? Are there any other guidelines that are important?
“R&D: To Innovate Better, Find Divergent Thinkers” Harvard Business Review June 2015
“Integrating Problem Solvers from Analogous Markets in New Product Ideation” Franke, N. Poetz., M.K. and M. Schreider (2013) Management Science Vol. 60 Iss. 4 pp. 1063-1-81

Involving Ideas from Experts in Analogous Markets in Innovation
Rick Mueller, Professor, United States, SIG Leader
Anneke - great stuff, thanks so much!
I haven't yet read the entire article but I wanted to make sure that for those that want to find and download “Integrating Problem Solvers from Analogous Markets in New Product Ideation” they can find it here.
There's also a similarly intriguing, complimentary, and apparently closely related article:
Chan, J., et al., Do the best design ideas (really) come from conceptually distant sources of inspiration?, Design Studies (2014) available for download here.

From my scan thus far I'd say that the idea of harvesting ideas from
(a) existing solutions in
(b) analogous but unrelated MARKETS (as defined by jobs-to-be-done)
would be consistent with observations that
(a) Disruptive Innovations tend to be new combinations of existing (vs newly invented) technology and that
(b) Disruptive Innovation seldom comes from within the industry to be Disrupted.

How to Find Innovative Ideas? (From Analogous Markets )
K.Narayana Moorthy, HR Consultant, India, Member
The ability to perceive similarities and analogies is one of the most fundamental aspects of human cognition. It is crucial for recognition, classification, and learning, and it plays an important role in scientific discovery and creativity.
CREATIVITY is characterized by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find the hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions.
INNOVATION includes all aspects of value creation in technologies, business models and improving processes and ways of working.
A key problem in using analogies for problem solving in innovation projects is to find the relevant analogies early in the process.
Different approaches to uncover innovative search for analogue solutions are:
1. SYSTEMATIC DEPTH OF SEARCH:This approach is to retrieve, evaluate and use analogies. It has different phases. First: Problem analyzing; Second: Using TRIZ Method to identify contradictions; Third: Integrating the views of customer and the problem.
2.WIDTH OF SEARCH-FORMAL PROCEDURE: Starting point is the knowledge of the project team. Activation of analogies with pat projects is fostered through brainstorming.
3. SYNECTICS: This approach is structured and much formalized innovation technique. Lead Users are valuable in the innovation process. The company has to look for analogue areas.
4. TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving) is based upon the idea that all technical problems are already somehow solved. Data from patents was condensed into 40 principles to solve technical contradictions, 4 principles to solve physical contradictions, 76 generic solutions and basic laws for technical evolution.
5. BIONICS: It is an idea simulation tool used by researchers.

External Sources for Innovation Initiatives
Charles Alter, Consultant, United States, Member
Apple said the same thing years ago in their infamous Superbowl commercial: "Think Different" - grammatical error and all. In my experience thinking differently is very difficult for most organizations - primarily because everyone is "too close to the forest to see the trees", so to speak. It may be possible to find divergent thinkers internally but the problem is that management folks may not take them seriously.
It's better to seek out external people to participate in innovation initiatives, and I would suggest to include customers in this group too. People with no immediate knowledge of the target market or product/service categories can offer unexpectedly clear ideas for new products/services or new/existing markets.

Special Interest Group Leader
Rick Mueller

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