Where do Breakthrough Ideas Come From?

by | Feb 6, 2020 | Blog Post

There is a huge desire for breakthrough new products, yet recent data suggests quite the opposite is occurring – most companies don’t lack ideas, but they do lack big game-changing innovation. So where do breakthrough ideas come from? And what steps can you take to encourage big-bet innovation in your corporation?


Many new product development portfolios are shifting away from bolder and more innovative ideas to smaller low-risk projects. To achieve aggressive product innovation goals, your portfolio of products must change. To do this you will need a product innovation strategy for your business, and this will determine where you want to focus your R&D efforts, and subsequently focus your hunt for new ideas.

Not only does your strategy define which areas to focus on, it also defines which areas to avoid. This makes your search much more directed and purposeful, and therefore more successful. Always ask yourself, is this idea aligned with our innovation and business strategy?

Find a Problem.

Look for big problems in your market. These can often come from big shifts and disruption in the areas you are focusing on. These changing markets are great for creating opportunities. Ask yourself, what changes are occurring in our customers needs? What opportunities could emerge from these changes? How can we meet their needs in these changing markets?


Take a look at your own business. What are your strengths and weaknesses? How do you differentiate yourself from the competition? What are your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses? Where are they winning and losing, and what can you learn from that? It is important to focus your search in large, growing markets and where you can leverage your core competencies.

Identify Sources.

Identify potential sources for new ideas. Where do good ideas come from? Are you missing any valuable sources? Not all great ideas will arise from the meeting room. Voice-of-Customer methods are amongst the most popular and are rated the most effective sources of new ideas, constituting the top five best-rated methods for generating breakthrough new product ideas.

Capture Ideas.

Once you’ve sourced ideas, you must sift through and sort through them. Which are worthy of your time and money? Which ideas do you invest in? What risk factors are there? You need a system in place to capture ideas, evaluate them and move the promising ones forward. A major investigation of innovation found that ideas management had the strongest impact on determining the success of a project. One of the most popular and successful processes for doing this is the Stage Gate process, which is recognised worldwide as the best approach of getting new products to market quickly and successfully.

Coming up with blockbuster ideas is only half the battle. You then need a system to manage those ideas and you need to deploy that system effectively. And managing that system effectively requires the five C’s of innovation; cooperation, communication, collaboration, commitment and consensus.

For more information on implementing a process that works for you, please get in touch. We are happy to discuss your needs and arrange a customized product demonstration.


Cooper, R. G. (2011). Winning at New Products: Creating Value Through Innovation. Fourth Edition. Published by Basic Books, USA.

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5 Key Ingredients to Fueling a Successful Product Launch

The Key to Faster, Better Decisions in New Product Development

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