Innovative opportunities: any ideas?

John W Lewis's picture
Chat Date: 
Thu, Nov 12, 2015

Many people think that ideas are the main source of opportunities for innovation. I disagree and I'm in good company, because so did Peter Drucker! In his 1985 book, "Innovation and Entrepreneurship", he wrote a whole chapter on ideas, actually on "The Bright Idea". However it is a very short chapter and he clearly describes that, while ideas are not to be dismissed or discouraged as a source of opportunity, they are an unreliable source.

Drucker identified seven main sources of opportunities. For a short description of them see, for example, The 7 Sources of Innovative Opportunity. These are all based on the view that, for an innovative opportunity to exist, something identifiable must have changed. And he clearly categorised "ideas" as not being one of those sources! That was 30 years ago. Yet how many people are taking any notice of this today?

When this subject came up during our #innochat two weeks ago, I suggested a series of chats on Drucker's seven sources. This was met with enthusiasm, not least from Renee Hopkins. So let's do it! We need not run them on contiguous weeks, we can spread them out leaving space for other topics in intervening weeks. 

In his book, Peter Drucker described the sources of innovative opportunity in sequence of decreasing importance and also grouped them into sources within an organization and those outside an organization. He then described "ideas", as being even less important, separately at the end.

Since the (minimal!) importance of "ideas" is our starting point and to make the series more (and increasingly) engaging, let's do the opposite. Let's discuss "ideas" this week, and then discuss the seven main sources in sequence of increasing importance (according to Drucker) over the course of the series.


During #innochat on November 12, 2015, as a prelude to a series on sources of innovative opportunity, let's discuss "ideas" for an hour starting at 12pm Eastern time, based on these questions:

  1. Why are ideas assumed to be important in many discussions of innovation?
  2. How reliable or unreliable are ideas as a source of innovative opportunity?
  3. When can ideas be useful in innovation?
  4. How can we identify ideas which might have some value?
  5. How should we consider ideas in comparision with other sources of innovative opportunity?


All donations go to help defray hosting, maintenance and domain name costs. Thanks!