How should firms identify innovation opportunities and predict market potential at very early stages and in new areas (“green fields”) and ambiguous environments? Here are three approaches:
1. Find Innovation Adjacencies:
Adjacent markets are an attractive way to grow. Adjacent markets are not too far away from your core business in terms of channels, technology, price point, brand, etc.. To find them, I recommend The Big Picture framework developed by Professor Christie Nordhielm at The University of Michigan. The Big Picture outlines four quadrants that completely define any market category. To find “green fields”, consider each quadrant one at a time and imagine extending beyond the bounds of the category in some close by, adjacent way. The key is to stretch, not leap beyond your inherent business model. Ask yourself these questions:
Once you identify potential adjacencies, apply an innovation method to create new-to-the-world concepts.
Co-opetition is an idea described by Barry Nalebuff and Adam Brandenburger in their book, “Co-opetition.” It means cooperative competition – when industry participants behave in a way that benefits all. They coopetate rather than compete. The trick is to apply innovation templates to the Value Net model of co-opetition. Here’s how. List the activities of each Value Net participant (Company, Supplier, Customer, Complementors, Competitor). Rotate each specific company in the Value Net model so that each takes a new role (competitors become suppliers, suppliers become complementors, etc). Use each template on the new list of activities, starting with Task Unification. Using Function Follows Form, envision how the new role creates a “green field” market.
3. Listen to the “Voices”:
Here are three less obvious sources of “green field” opportunity.