By David Burkus at the Harvard Business Review, July 23, 2013.

When most organizations try to increase their innovation efforts, they always seem to start from the same assumption: “we need more ideas.” They’ll start talking about the need to “think outside the box” or “blue sky” thinking in order to find a few ideas that can turn into viable new products or systems. However, in most organizations, innovation isn’t hampered by a lack of ideas, but rather a lack of noticing the good ideas already there.

It’s not an idea problem; it’s a recognition problem.

Consider some well-known examples from history. Kodak’s research laboratory invented the first digital camera in 1975 but didn’t pursue it. Instead they paid virtually no attention as Sony developed a different prototype and stole the future of digital photography out from underneath them. Xerox developed the first personal computer, but didn’t invest enough in the technology and allowed Steve Jobs and Apple to snatch the opportunity away. The US Navy rejected 13 submissions from William S. Sims regarding an innovative new firing method. It wasn’t until Sims appealed to President Theodore Roosevelt that his improved method was recognized.

Read more at the Harvard Business Review