Innovation should never be an annual or quarterly goal. Make it part of your daily activities. The first step toward creating greater value for other people is to gain a better understanding of their needs. Don’t ask them what they need. Watch them in action and ask yourself what they need.
If you sell to consumers, then go watch them in action. See what their lives are like. If you sell to a business, then ask people at the business if you can spend time in their world to better understand what might be of greater value for them in the future. I’ve been welcomed into businesses in over thirty industries to better understand their world. How did I gain entry? I asked if I could come and spend a few hours in their world.
The act of watching your customers in action is vastly more important than sitting in a conference room brainstorming for ideas on what people might want. That step is important as well, but only after you’ve gone to watch your customers in action.