Roger La SalleA new business insight provided by Roger La Salle, innovation thought leader and pioneer of “Matrix Thinking”™, who was our luminary speaker at the TII 2016 conference in Barcelona.

Products and services generally exist because they meet a need. Most often this need is real and tangible and can be readily enunciated. In some cases of course needs may be “constructed” with clever advertising and brand positioning. For example who really needs a Louis Vuitton handbag, compared with the $2.00 Chinese look alike?

Putting aside the “created needs”, one of the major sources of real opportunity is a widespread activity combined with an observed frustration, very often expressed as a curse.

Listen for the curse

Inventors, entrepreneurs and innovators are very good at spotting opportunities, perhaps listening for frustrations or for a curse, and even solving the underlying problem. However, the one essential ingredient that underpins a successful opportunity that many people fail to understand is its span or “widespread-ness”. There is little point in solving a problem for a single person involved in a lone occupation. What is needed is an occupation that is widespread, that of course is where widespread opportunities exist.

The Opportunity Matrix © La Salle

With this in mind we can create an opportunity matrix that comprises a rectangular grid or matrix with the fundamentals that underpin an opportunity on the left vertical axis, and use a number of thought provoking “Catalysts” arranged on the top horizontal axis, with one catalyst being “frustration”. The result is a simple and structured way to identify an opportunity with the intersection of “widespread-ness” and “Frustration “the key.

Track a Widespread Activity

Using just the above two elements of the opportunity matrix one need now only identify any activity that is undertaken on a widespread basis and literally track (or follow) the people undertaking that activity and listen for and document the incidences of frustration or the curses. This is easy to do; is rigorous and almost fool proof in the outcomes it produces.

Real Life example – Install time reduced by 40%

An example of this technique was recently presented at a conference where electricians installing overhead down lights were literally tracked to observe the frustrations they encountered in undertaking this task. It was expected that the task of cutting the correct sized holed in the ceiling and actually wiring the lights in awkward overhead positions would be the problem, but nonetheless the tracking activity was undertaken in order to gain a complete understanding of the issues.

To the surprise of all involved, the real problem observed in tracking a number of contractors was in them calculating and marking the exact positions where to cut the ceiling holes. Once these positions were known it was a simple and relatively easy task for the contractors to actually cut the holes and fit the lights.

The outcome was the opportunity for a new set of measuring instruments to facilitate the easy measurement and calculation of hole positions. This was quite unexpected but with the advent of the new measuring technique some 40% of the total installation time was removed from this common and widespread task.

Structure your opportunity search

The secret is to identify any widespread activity and to track people involved and capture and plot their frustrations. Indeed you can do this with your staff, with people using your products or services or with customers and people in general.

This is just one way of implementing a structured Opportunity search.


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