When we are developing ideas for innovation we often identify opportunities in isolated situations. We need to put ourselves in the shoes of the end user and determine how they might make the decision whether to use our product or not.
For example, I worked with a group of entrepreneurs trying to decide how to apply wireless technology and sensors in a hospital environment. There are a multitude of opportunities for this application in hospitals. We set out describing a number of possibilities as though none of those solutions currently existed. In fact there were quite a number of these concepts already available or in development. What was needed was a way to identify gaps or opportunities to link solutions together.
What we should have done was to look from the perspective of a user in the hospital eco-system perspective and determine what they needed to do, what solutions were currently available or in development and what gaps existed. Using this approach would create opportunities for applications but would also identify how they fit into the overall solution and who we could work with in getting adoption.
This approach might also enable us to become a distribution channel for solutions that are having a difficult time fitting into the current structure. A combination of individual solutions taken together in an infrastructure could have a greater chance of success than any of the individual solutions.
As Clayton Christensen has pointed out, people hire products and services to do jobs. If we look closely at those jobs and the people doing them we start to understand where opportunities lie and how to develop solutions. This analysis also helps us to find our early adopters and product champions because they need the solution the most.