Common problems along the innovation path from opportunity identification to development


Share on LinkedIn

I thought I would share a typology of common issues that I think plague the "opportunity discovery, selection and targeting" first phase of innovation, which I am most interested in and which am trying to add system and process to bring new level of precision to a difficult area. Building on the terminology and process definition of David Teece on Dynamic Capabilities, and our own perspectives from working at this end of the innovation process (or rather the beginning), I’ve categorised these issues according to four pre-development capabilities that innovators can develop to lead to better downstream outcomes, namely:

– Sense Opportunity

– Identify Opportunity

– Interpret or Shape Opportunity

– Seize Opportunity

I use this graphic and terminology to categorise the issues:

Common problems along the innovation pathway

and here are short definitions / descriptions of each issue:

SCOPE – The scope of search for opportunities is not broad enough and may be limited to the firm’s core market, defined by what the firm already knows, to its closest competitors, to flawed voice of the customer inputs or to limited product definitions

FRAMEWORK – There is lack of a guiding analytical structure or framework to define search and interpretation of market and technological opportunities

PROCESS – Processes do not exist, are too unwieldy and do not surface key opportunities fast enough

FILTER – The organisation’s strategy does not provide the necessary filter to guide search and selection of opportunities

INPUTS – Wrong inputs are captured or are captured in a variety of different formats meaning that opportunities cannot be calibrated effectively, particularly so with customer needs

EVIDENCE – There is a lack of evidence available to quantify and prioritise needs and inputs

CUSTOMER-FOCUS – A lack of selectivity or consideration to know when or when not to rely on user- or customer-driven inputs

EXTERNAL INPUTS – Inability to find or draw on external technologies or ideas fast enough ahead of the competition

SPEED – Management is not informed quickly enough of new opportunities

NUANCE – Information is not combined and filtered appropriately to those who need to make sense of and act upon it so that the important nuances of opportunity are lost in repeated translation from one location, division or function to another

RISK-ORIENTATION – An imbalance in the relative influence of visionaries and champions of change on the one hand and detractors or conservative-minded individuals on the other

BOUNDARY-SETTING – Inappropriate setting of enterprise boundaries, whether and how to partner or go outside to source capabilities or technology inputs to execute opportunity, to seize its full profit potential (too narrow – too wide)

CREATIVE DEPENDENCY – Success is dependent on the creative traits of a few individuals or an outside agency

INTEGRATION – Lack of integration between functions that identify opportunities and those that execute against them, particularly when opportunities challenge status-quo thinking

SHORT-TERMISM – Entrenched attitudes amongst managers of existing product lines that starve investment in new lines. Limitations in capital budgeting focus on short-term discounted cash flows or net present value of future investments

DECISION-MAKING – Innovation investment decisions are made via committees, within too formal structures or are overly programmatic in nature, restricting the allocation of funds to pursue newer or more radical innovation opportunities, markets and technologies.

CONSENSUS AND VISIBILITY – Internal arguments and debate produce limited consensus leading to individual or inter-functional “Opportunity Propaganda Wars” leading to misaligned technology and requirements developments

Each is worthy of a blog entry in itself ! So any perspectives are most welcome.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Chris Lawer
I lead Strategyn UK and work with global companies to help them become successful customer-centred innovators. My team has identified numerous high-value, pre-concept market opportunities and created growth plans that work. Find us at I also lead ZinC - a healthcare technology opportunity, innovation and growth strategy consultancy. We have tailored customer-centered innovation theory, methods and processes for healthcare markets. Find us at Http://


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here