Innovation and observation

How often does a truly innovative product or service come from asking people what they need? Or is it more often the case that innovation happens when we observe people?

Michael Fruhling has some observations about the value of observing your customers to learn about their unmet needs:

My point is that many categories remain ripe for innovation – both young and even relatively mature ones. The most attractive opportunities will go to those individuals and companies who are savvy enough to recognize need-gaps revealed through observation of adaptive customer behaviors. Are you getting out from behind your desk to learn about your customers’ potential needs?

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