[This is the first in a series of short tips to help improve the success of your innovation work.]
Tip #1: When conducting research to inform your innovation project, don't focus too narrowly on your current customers; or even those of your competitors. Try to understand the problem being solved by your industry, and look for the other ways in which people solve that problem. By doing so you will immediately broaden your perspective on what a solution may look like, as well as gaining a richer understanding for the diversity of what constitutes 'value' to a potential customer.
For example, I might be looking to disrupt the mobile broadband industry. I could look at how people choose between our offering, and that of our direct competitors. Thinking more broadly, I might look at why people use wi-fi hotspots, tether to their smartphone, or rely on fixed networks (at home, at work) and forgo connectivity on-the-go. As a rule of thumb, unless you're the Government, your non-customers far outnumber your customers. Understanding why could be the secret to unlocking vast market potential.