They are not the same thing.

An innovation is only valuable if the customer perceives value in it. And for this to happen, the customer needs to feel like the solution is addressing some sort of problem or job to be done which they have.

Too many startups, founders and inventors get this equation the wrong way round.

They find or develop a solution (whether this is a new technology, product, service or anything else they create), and expect that people are going to come to them to buy it.

Then, they are surprised when nobody comes.

This is often because the solution they have built is not actually solving a real problem.

Or at least, not a problem which their target customers actually feel, or care enough about.

For example, TV shows like Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den are full of entrepreneurs trying to get investment for a solution they have developed, but which people do not seem to care about.

Yet the entrepreneurs, startups or founders are so excited by their idea that they go straight to developing a solution, without first validating whether the problem is real in the first place.

They end up with a solution, and then try to find a problem for the solution to solve. Many innovations never make it past this stage and get stuck in the innovation valley of death.

So if you are looking to innovate, slow down and first look at what the customer thinks, and where their frustrations are. Only then can you recognise the real core problem, and begin developing a solution for that.

Did you know that scientific evidence shows your creativity decreases over time

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Creativity & Innovation expert: I help individuals and companies build their creativity and innovation capabilities, so you can develop the next breakthrough idea which customers love. Chief Editor of and Founder / CEO of Improvides Innovation Consulting. Coach / Speaker / Author / TEDx Speaker / Voted as one of the most influential innovation bloggers.