Tap Into 7 Key Sources of Opportunity for Innovation

Tap Into 7 Key Sources of Opportunity for Innovation


“Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.” That quote is from the father of modern management, Peter Drucker. He believed in making sure your business was focused on doing the right things. One way of ensuring that is by embracing opportunities when they present themselves. We have listed some of Peter Drucker’s ideas that can help you identify sources of opportunity.

These ideas apply whether you run a business of your own or you are part of a team dynamic. Take some time to think about these basic ideas on finding opportunities, and see how they can help you achieve your long-term goals. Here are seven key sources of opportunity:

The Unexpected


Opportunities frequently come from unexpected sources. Don’t get stuck into set patterns of thinking. If your company has a very limited scope, do prospects ask you to provide other services? Is there a part of your business that has great potential but isn’t taken seriously by the leadership team? Is there an available talent pool due to layoffs in the community? Are you truly taking advantage of all of the minor details that could lead to your success?


Industry and Market Disparities


Industry and market disparities describe situations when the current supply for something does not meet the demand. There are times when companies are not accustomed to providing things that people really desire. You can thrive if you figure out how to give the people what they truly want in these situations. Think about the massive shift in the way shoppers purchase their holiday gifts today. Things have changed over the past several years. Consequently, many people never think about fighting huge crowds in the mall anymore. For you, that means finding ways to do what Amazon did to traditional retailers. Take advantage of other companies that are not making it easy for their customers to do business, and then go satisfy their customers.




Incongruities describe inconsistencies between customer desires and what a business believes the customer desires. Does your industry truly know what your customers want? Imagine someone who gives the same birthday gift to their significant other every year. The point is that opportunistic businesses understand what people may have said they wanted in 2010 may not be what they will truly pay for in 2017. Innovators can see the opportunity in these incongruities and deliver real value. To do this, truly understand the real expectations.


Process Vulnerabilities


Drucker’s phrase “process vulnerabilities simply” describes any gaps in the way things happen. These gaps keep the experience from being all it could be for the end user. For example, a creative young person with the idea for a show once had to lobby for time on local public access television. Today, anyone can create their own YouTube channel without having to depend on anyone else. YouTube addressed a gap for content providers. Opportunities abound if you can address existing process vulnerabilities and provide new advantages for people.


Demographic Shifts


Intelligent companies pay attention to changes in demographics. Companies continually study demographics to understand the best manner to reach their desired audience. The demographics in the United States are changing. Can you adapt your business to reflect the rapidly changing demographics before your competition does it? Do you take necessary steps to gain respect from the demographic segments you want to serve?


Changes in Perception


There are times when people are not quite ready to embrace a new idea. Innovative organizations recognize times when consumer perception changes and they are ready to implement their fresh ideas. For example, jiu-jitsu martial arts training facilities are now much more prevalent across the United States. The success of jiu-jitsu athletes in televised competitions created more demand for their expertise. As a result, many enterprising martial arts experts went into business for themselves. The industry has grown significantly.


New Knowledge


Breakthroughs in science and technology is clearly a source of opportunity. Think about what Apple and the iPad did to the consumer PC market over the last 10 years. Innovative solutions create a domino effect of opportunities. Many clever people cashed in on the market for apps before the rest of the world caught on. If you are not going to create the next breakthrough, apply the new technology to improve your business anyway.

If you are still not satisfied with this author’s interpretation of Peter Drucker’s ideas, please find the book “The Definitive Drucker” by Elizabeth Haas Edersheim. Her book details examples from a variety of organizations that applied these principles and reaped the benefits. Many groups have succeeded because they put these ideas into action. I know you can do it!


Preston Charles

Preston Charles has more than 20 years of experience with leading logistics and supply chain organizations. He currently provides strategic, operational, and project-based support to his clients at Worldwide Advancement Consulting. Charles studied marketing at Morehouse College and earned his M.B.A. from the Penn State Smeal College of Business with portfolios in supply chain management and strategic leadership.