(Note: This article was originally published by Entrepreneur Media, Inc. at http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/252545 Copyright 2015 by Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.)
Do you have people in your organization who say they aren’t creative? Maybe you’re even one of those people.
But don’t buy into this idea, because everyone is capable of developing innovative ideas, even those who say they are not “creative.” In my work with clients, I am frequently asked how to generate innovative ideas. And what I reply is that to identify seeds of innovation you can cultivate, you should examine the problems to be solved, and the unmet needs in your company or industry.
Those seeds of innovation provide a powerful starting point for developing the valuable innovations that will increase your revenue and market share. Once you know how to recognize them, you can discover these innovation seeds in every part of your organization.
1. Your sales department
Your sales team members should be able to identify seeds of innovation during their daily interactions with customers and potential customers. The salespeople can identify missing product features that customers request and that may already be provided by a competitor.
Direct customer interaction by members of the sales team provides valuable feedback regarding desired features, favorite product attributes and other issues. This information can help your company develop innovative new features that distinguish your products in the marketplace.
An observant sales group also identifies how customers use products. I have worked with many clients who learned about customer actions from interactions between the salespeople and customers. In many instances, the customer actions showed inefficiencies in the product.
These inefficiencies then became “innovation seeds” which, during brainstorming sessions, grew into product revisions that made the product more user-friendly and increased the product’s value to potential customers.
2. Your customer service
Your customer service department is also capable of discovering a variety of problems through customer complaints and other customer feedback. Problems reported by one customer are likely to be experienced by many customers.
Solving these problems can improve