Thomas Watson, who founded IBM in 1924, placed on the wall behind his desk a single framed word: THINK. It became the corporate motto of one of the most influential companies of the century.
Think. The handiest source of new product ideas is your mind, if for no other reason than that you are always carrying it around with you. You have a mind. The next step is to open it and keep it open. What you want is to be open to change.
Management guru Peter Drucker has made the observation that most successful innovations exploit change. In his 1985 Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Drucker defined seven specific kinds of change that are sources of innovative opportunity:
We are keenly aware of the effect of change in the graphics and arts industry. Few industries have undergone as much change during the last few years as printing. While two of our heroes are Johannes Gutenberg and Benjamin Franklin, we also deeply admire Steven Jobs, Michael Dell, and Bill Gates. We anxiously embrace new technologies and see the changes as opportunities -- not something to fear or dread. We just thought you needed to know.
- The unexpected, including unexpected success, unexpected failure, and unexpected events.
- Incongruity between reality as it actually is and reality as it is assumed to be.
- Innovation based on process need.
- Changes in industry structure and market structure -- especially those that catch everyone unaware.
- Demographic shifts.
- Changes in perception, mood, and meaning.
- New knowledge, including the scientific and the nonscientific.