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

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Anneke Zwart
Student (University), Netherlands

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

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?
Sources:
“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

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