The 7 Sources Of Innovation

The 7 Sources of Innovation help you to look systematically for innovative Ideas. It doesn’t matter if you

  • want to start a new open source project
  • are searching for interesting topic for your next thesis
  • are looking for innovative business idea or
  • you want to put up an effective social project.

It neither doesn’t matter, if you are looking for technical or social innovation. The point rather is to find out about demand, feasibility and timing of an innovation.

Ideas are not found by accident

To find new ideas, you are normally advised to do some creativity techniques like brainstorming or you are told to build a product for yourself. Ironically there is much advice to test your idea or business model – finding the idea in the first place is something accidental.

This approach is not systematic. It is not useful to find promising ideas for startups, open-source or social projects. It is just based on the principle: Try to generate as many ideas as you can, maybe someday there will be a useful one.

The result: There are lots people out there, that say: Ideas are worthless! The only thing that counts is execution.

Good Ideas are not worthless

I would like to contradict this claim: No, good ideas are not worthless!

We need good ideas. And to find good ideas you need to know where to look.

The inventor of management, Peter Drucker, detected 7 sources of innovation:

  1. The Unexpected
  2. Incongruities
  3. Process-Need
  4. Change Of Market Or Industry
  5. Demographics
  6. Change In Perception
  7. Knowledge-Based Innovation

Drucker chose the order of the sources not randomly:

  1. The risk of the sources increases.
  2. Innovation opportunities that lie in the sources 1 – 4 are easier discovered by insiders of an industry, opportunities that lie in the sources 5 – 7 easier by outsiders.

7 And A Half Sources Of Innovation
If you find Drucker’s concept helpful, you can download this canvas as cheat sheet.
CC-share alike licenced. Feel free to download, if you want to share: please link back to this post.

The sources

Before we dive into the sources of innovation, keep in mind, that the sources of innovation are not mutually exclusive. Electric vehicles are a culmination of New Knowledge and Changes in Perception.

Source of Innovation: The Unexpected

Summary: Innovation often emerges from unforeseen disruptions or unexpected events that challenge the status quo and compel individuals and organizations to adapt and innovate.

Detailed Explanation: “The Unexpected” source of innovation underscores the profound notion that pioneering breakthroughs frequently stem from circumstances or events that deviate from the anticipated norm. These unanticipated occurrences serve as catalysts for fresh thinking and inventive solutions. They prompt individuals to explore uncharted territories, adapt swiftly, and unearth unconventional solutions.

Contemporary Examples:

  1. Post-it Notes (3M): In 1968, chemist Spencer Silver’s pursuit of a robust adhesive yielded an unexpectedly weak one. This serendipity eventually led to the iconic Post-it Notes, revolutionizing the way people communicate and share information.
  2. Penicillin (Alexander Fleming): In 1928, a fortuitous discovery by Alexander Fleming, a Scottish bacteriologist, of mold spores with bactericidal properties became the genesis of penicillin, the pioneering antibiotic that transformed the landscape of medicine.
  3. Zoom Video Conferencing: The widespread adoption of Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic exemplifies how an unforeseen circumstance, in this case, the need for remote communication, can propel a tool into mainstream use.

Source of Innovation: Incongruities

Summary: Innovation frequently arises from recognizing discrepancies or misalignments between existing circumstances and desired outcomes.

Detailed Explanation: “Incongruities” as a source of innovation centers on the identification and harnessing of inconsistencies, contradictions, or unmet needs. When a perceptible incongruity exists between the prevailing situation and the aspired state, it serves as a potent impetus for innovation. Bridging these incongruities leads to inventive solutions that harmonize disparities.

Contemporary Examples:

  1. Tesla’s Electric Vehicles: Tesla’s innovative approach addressed the incongruity between environmental concerns and traditional gasoline-powered vehicles by offering high-performance electric alternatives, revolutionizing the automotive industry.
  2. Airbnb: Recognizing the incongruity between underutilized living spaces and travelers’ need for accommodation, Airbnb introduced a platform that effectively bridged the gap, disrupting the conventional hospitality industry.
  3. Smartphones: The unification of communication, photography, computing, and entertainment within a single device exemplifies the amalgamation of multiple incongruities, offering users a streamlined and multifunctional tool.

Source of Innovation: Process Need

Summary: Innovations often stem from recognizing opportunities to optimize or streamline existing processes.

Detailed Explanation: The “Process Need” source of innovation accentuates the importance of identifying prospects for refining current processes to enhance efficiency and efficacy. By identifying bottlenecks and inefficiencies within the existing workflow, organizations are inspired to seek inventive solutions that ameliorate operational performance.

Contemporary Examples:

  1. Lean Manufacturing (Toyota): Toyota’s implementation of lean manufacturing principles ushered in a transformative era. This involved a relentless focus on process enhancement, waste reduction, quality improvement, and operational efficiency. These refinements reshaped the manufacturing landscape.
  2. Amazon’s Supply Chain Innovation: Amazon’s continuous innovation in supply chain and logistics operations is typified by advancements like warehouse robotics and drone delivery. These innovations optimize the supply chain, translating into swifter and more efficient services for customers.
  3. Lean Startup Methodology: The lean startup methodology champions rapid iteration, feedback-driven development, and the minimization of wastage in the product development process. This approach has become a cornerstone of entrepreneurial ventures, particularly in the technology sector.

Source of Innovation: Industry & Market Changes

Summary: Innovation often arises from shifts in industry and market dynamics, driven by factors such as regulatory changes, evolving consumer preferences, or shifting demographics.

Detailed Explanation: “Industry & Market Changes” as a source of innovation underscores the role of disruptions in reshaping the business landscape. Whether emanating from regulatory amendments, evolving consumer tastes, or changing demographic compositions, these shifts generate opportunities for innovative products or services. Adapting to these evolving dynamics can result in significant advances.

Contemporary Examples:

  1. Electric Vehicles: The automotive industry’s transformation was triggered by industry changes, including environmental regulations and heightened consumer demand for eco-friendly transportation options. This transition led to the emergence of electric vehicles, with companies like Tesla spearheading the movement.
  2. Plant-Based and Lab-Grown Meat: A shift in dietary preferences towards ethical and sustainable food choices has propelled the growth of plant-based and lab-grown meat products, which align with changing consumer demands.
  3. Telemedicine: Industry and market changes, driven by the need for remote healthcare access, catalyzed the expansion of telemedicine services, offering accessible and convenient healthcare solutions.

Source of Innovation: Demographics

Summary: Innovations can be inspired by changes in the age, size, or composition of populations, as these shifts necessitate tailored solutions.

Detailed Explanation: The “Demographics” source of innovation emphasizes the significance of understanding and addressing the distinctive needs and preferences of diverse demographic groups. As populations evolve with respect to age, size, and composition, entrepreneurial endeavors and businesses can seize opportunities by devising products and services that resonate with these evolving demographics.

Contemporary Examples:

  1. Baby Boomer Retirement Planning: The aging of the baby boomer generation has created a demand for tailored financial and healthcare services. Innovations in retirement planning and senior care have emerged to address this demographic shift.
  2. Online Learning Platforms: Online learning platforms like Coursera and edX cater to learners of all ages, offering diverse courses and programs that accommodate the varied educational needs of different demographics.
  3. Apps and Products for Aging Populations: The development of applications and products aimed at addressing the health, mobility, and accessibility requirements of aging populations, such as medication reminder apps and senior-friendly smartphones, is in response to demographic changes.

Source of Innovation: Changes in Perception

Summary: Innovations can originate from shifts in cultural norms, attitudes, and values, as these changing perceptions create opportunities for novel products and services.

Detailed Explanation: “Changes in Perception” as a source of innovation accentuates the dynamic nature of cultural norms, attitudes, and values. When societal perspectives undergo transformation, it paves the way for innovative products and services that align with these evolving perceptions. Recognizing and capitalizing on these shifts can lead to pioneering and impactful innovations.

Contemporary Examples:

  1. Plant-Based Diets: The increased acceptance of plant-based diets, driven by health and environmental concerns, has given rise to a variety of vegan and vegetarian food products that cater to the changing perception of ethical and sustainable eating.
  2. Eco-Friendly Products: Heightened environmental consciousness has ushered in the era of eco-friendly and sustainable products across various industries, reflecting shifting perceptions of environmental responsibility.
  3. Digital Art and NFTs: The art world is currently undergoing a transformation as digital art and NFTs challenge traditional notions of art ownership and value. This shift in perception has opened up new avenues for artists and collectors.

Source of Innovation: New Knowledge

Summary: Innovations often result from advances in scientific or technical knowledge, with breakthroughs and discoveries creating opportunities for revolutionary innovations.

Detailed Explanation: The “New Knowledge” source of innovation underscores the profound role of breakthroughs and advancements in scientific and technical knowledge. When researchers unlock new insights or principles, it unveils opportunities for revolutionary innovations across a spectrum of fields. The application of this fresh knowledge drives transformative change.

Contemporary Examples:

  1. CRISPR Gene-Editing Technology: The advent of CRISPR-Cas9, a revolutionary gene-editing technology, is a product of breakthroughs in molecular biology. Its potential to transform medicine, agriculture, and biotechnology by enabling precise gene editing exemplifies the power of new knowledge.
  2. Advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning: Ongoing progress in AI and machine learning has resulted in innovations such as autonomous vehicles, predictive analytics, virtual assistants, and a myriad of applications across diverse industries.
  3. Nanotechnology in Materials Science: Innovations in nanotechnology have facilitated the creation of novel materials with unique properties. These materials find applications in electronics, medicine, and materials engineering, ushering in novel product development possibilities.

This language and style are intended to reflect the spirit and terminology of Peter Drucker, helping convey the significance and potential of these sources of innovation in the contemporary business and technological landscape.

Getting Organized as a Solopreneur

In the following, I present to you my daily way of working, with which I, on the one hand, achieve my projects and on the other hand do not lose sight of my daily tasks.


When you work as an employee in a company, it is usually the case that your tasks are clearly defined. Usually, there is a project management software from which it is clear what needs to be done next.

If you are a freelancer, solopreneur, or part-time, the situation is usually different.

When I started out on my own with my affiliate websites, I didn’t have a system that I couldn’t follow. I had currently opted for a simple Kanban board for entering my tasks.

After a short time, I was struggling to find a balance between new features that needed to be implemented and regularly recurring tasks.

My background as a product owner on a Scrum team was of limited help. While I was clear on how to prioritize and work through tasks, I was overwhelmed with classifying recurring tasks and working on them regularly.

So I started looking for a planning system that would help me. I interviewed friends and studied several organizational systems and created my own planning system.

My planning system should help me with the following requirements:

  • Important features and tasks should be highly prioritized and implemented in as timely a manner as possible.
  • Recurring tasks that need to be implemented regularly should not clutter up my backlog, nor did I want them in my head.
  • In addition, I wanted my notoriously cluttered inbox to go away. (In the past, I liked to use my inbox as a filing system for tasks to be done later).


Based on my experience and research, I developed the following system. Essentially, it is a love child of Getting Things Done, Scrum, and Kanban.

The core of the system is a task board, as in most agile project management systems.

Currently, it is divided into four columns: Backlog, Todo, Doing, Done. The taskboard is deliberately kept simple. People who frequently delegate tasks or depend on others for completion should still consider an On-Hold or Delegated column.

However, the taskboard does not yet help me with recurring tasks. These have to be entered over and over again. If you work in sprints, as soon as you have completed a recurring task, you could always re-populate it into the backlog. However, I find this extremely cumbersome and it doesn’t really correspond to a backlog. After all, I want to work through my backlog and not let it grow automatically.

That’s why I decided to create a separate list of recurring tasks in addition to the task board. The tasks in this list are characterized by the fact that they are recurring and limited in scope. Typical entries are “Read emails” or “Check Google Analytics”. Basically, no recurring task is too small not to end up on this list. The main thing is that the things are out of your head and don’t occupy any capacity in your brain.

I still use a calendar to manage my appointments.

My work desktop looks like this

CURRENT Procedure

My daily routine is structured as follows:

First, I check my appointments and then read emails and other messages that have been sent to me. If new tasks arise from these, they are added to the backlog.

Next, I get an overview of my task board and the recurring tasks that may have popped up. From here, I can then start completing all the tasks.

I usually start with the tasks that need to be repeated, as these are done quickly and I then have time for the taskboard.

I revise my backlog at least once a week. In doing so, I re-sort the features if necessary and make sure they are described in such a way that I know exactly what to do during implementation. In Scrum, this would be called a backlog refinement, in GTD it’s the reflecting step.

Every 14 days I do a retrospective where I review the past 2 weeks, decide which ways of working worked well and which I want to change to move forward more effectively.

I don’t do real sprints with fixed Scrum events, because they are not compatible with my current life and I am naturally a bit more flexible on my own than a team of 5 to 10 people.


In the following, I would like to introduce you to the tools that I currently use and that suit me well.

As a to-do list with repeating tasks, I use Google Tasks. Since Google Tasks can’t actually be displayed on its own in a browser, I wrote myself a little workaround: Google Tasks in the browser. Just use this link if you want to use Google Tasks independently from Gmail or Calendar.

As a board solution, I use a self-programmed tool: Metado. The crucial advantage for me: Metado shows Google Tasks and GitHub-issues of selected projects. So I can see different projects side by side without having to transfer them manually or maintain multiple tools at the same time.

For the calendar, I use Google Calendar because I like working in the Google ecosystem.

Of course, if you feel comfortable with other tools that are better suited for your purposes, you can use those.

Now it’s time for me to let you have your say. How do you structure your work? Do you have any tips for the rest of us? Do share your insights in the comments.

Akiee 0.0.3 released

Release 0.0.3 is a big step for Akiee. I am switching Akiee from plain Javascript to Clojurescript with Reagent, which is a wrapper around Facebook's React. Furthermore, Akiee's UI has been improved to better fit into the respective operating systems.

On the functional side it is now possible to add or edit data of a task. Like planned date, due date, repeat, tags, etc.

The user storys for Akiee 0.0.3 were:

  • Merge rakiee repository with akiee
  • When I look over my tasks, I want to set/change an attribute so that I can change it to my needs.
  • improvement: Mac: Alias Ctrl shortcuts to Cmd
  • fix: Mac: Rename "node-webkit" in the menubar to Akiee
  • As A User I want to see the details of a task when I click on it, that I can see notes I did to finish it.
  • As a user, I want better integration, that the app feels more native to me.
  • As a developer, I want to explore the options of using Clojurescript for Akiee, that I can leverage Lisp for competitive advantage

To grab a copy of Akiee, choose on of the following downloads. I am very interested in your feedback.

Next features

What is planned for Akiee 0.0.4?

  • As a (kanban) user I want to have the DONE state ordered by time in reverse, that I can see what I finished last.
  • When I make a mistake, I want to go back to the last state, so that I can start over.
  • As a User I want to order my task via Drag & Drop, that I can order my task more efficient.
  • When the markdown file of my tasks get too big, I want to export tasks that I done, so that I only have tasks in the file that are still relevant to me.
  • As a User I want to synchronize my tasks via Dropbox and similar services, that I can add tasks from every computer I have access to.
  • As a user I want to keep notes (not tasks), that I want to keep for future reference, that I can remember important information. 

Financing Open-Source-Projects via the Ubuntu Software-Center

Financing Open-Source-Projects via the Ubuntu Software-Center

Since a few month it's relatively easy to offer commercial software through the Ubuntu Software-Center. Why shouldn't this be used to finance open-source projects like the Gimp, Ardour or Openshot and support their development efforts.

Let's Take Brian Lunduke's favorite example: The Gimp. Before I want to make an fundamental assumption: It doesn't conflict with the open-source/free software idea, to sell software, if you publish the source code at the same time.

How could this look like?

For Gimp there are certain plugins, which are not available via the standard package sources and which maintenance is bugging the typical (web-) designer.

Why not offer certain plugin packs in the Ubuntu Software-Center for a fair price? For example, I could imagine a plugin pack, that makes a preselection of special plugins for photo post-production – with features that are not available in Shotwell.

This could be an opportunity for the Gimp team; who's got more competence about Gimp than the Gimp team itself. What's true for Gimp is also true for a lot of other applications like OpenShot, Ardour, Open-Office, etc.

Where is the customer value?

Most OSS users are bugged or simply overstrained by the installation of plugins, PPAs or the compiling of source code – regardless they like to use the best plugins and the newest software. It would be arrogant to say: users should develop theses skills or wait for 6 – 24 month until the next version of Ubuntu comes out.

The concept of providing updates via the Software-Center is especially interesting for LTS-versions of Ubuntu. Users and programmers get totally new possibilities bypassing missing updates by Canonical.

Why it is important to have a vibrant commercial Ecosystem around open source software

Many times open source projects, most often small ones, have to fight obstacles like new hardware or server costs – not to mention compensation of the team members. In addition, most open-source projects are developed by solo developers and are lacking manpower to have faster development cycles.

If you are now interested in developing business ideas around open source software, check the two articles:

How do you think about it? Should open source projects try to raise money with the Software-Center?

Business Model Canvas For Letter and A4

The Business Model Canvas is a great tool to draft different business models for your business idea. It is an accompanying download to the Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers book by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. The only drawback is, that it's poster sized and not usable as a print out for your notebook.

For a more convenient use of the Business Model Canvas I made two smaller versions of the Business Model Canvas:

  • one you can use as cheat sheet, that has the original comments with a more readable font (Droid Sans and Serif)
  • one without comments, that you can use to draft you business models

Business Model Canvas Cheat Sheet

Business Model Canvas Cheat Sheet

Business Model Canvas Working Paper

Business Model Canvas Working Paper

Find More Business Ideas

If you like the Business Model Canvas you will probably like the 7 Sources Of Innovations Sheet. It helps you to find better ideas your business models.

Positioning Linux In The Desktop Market (or Why Hendrix would have used Linux)

Hendrix painting by furibond
Would he have used Linux? by furibond

At the moment some people are telling us Linux would have finally lost the battle for the desktop. For justification they claim Windows 7 is overtaking the netbook market. In this essay I will argue, Linux has not lost the desktop market and it should not position itself in the low-end PC market but in the high-end.

Linux can not lose the desktop market.

As I said before, Linux can not be beaten in the market as long there are curious programmers all over the world contributing to Free Software. For the success of Free Software it is not important how many people are using it. It is important how many people are contributing to Free Software. This argument stays true for big projects, like Gnome and KDE, and for all the small projects, like Scribes, Impressive, Gnome-Do, etc., that make Open Source Software so exciting.

Linux is build as a high-end system

Linus Torvalds created Linux because there were no suitable Unix-like operating systems that he could afford. That's why he build an operating system he would find "beautiful". In conclusion it is fair to say that Linux was build as a high-end operating system. The coincidence that Linux is running on such a variety of devices is just a sign of its class and the advantage of the OSS development model.

Linux competes with OS X

Fender Stratocaster by daves_place
Fender Stratocaster by daves_place

Linux is created to be an Unix and not a DOS. If you compare operating systems to electric guitars Linux is a Fender Stratocaster. It is hard to learn but very rewarding. Windows in contrast is a Guitar Hero game controller. It is nice in the beginning but the possibilities are very limited and it hampers your creativity. Personally I think the real competitor to Linux is OS X. OS X would be a Gibson Les Paul. Very good lookin', a bit easier to play, but very expensive and not as versatile as a Strat. Like the guitars from Fender and Gibson, both operating systems have some things in common, but differ in certain aspect, especially in philosophy. The biggest similarity of the both operating systems is that they are both Unixes.

Some philosophical differences between Linux and OS X

open source vs. closed source: If you want, you can use the sources of Linux as you wish. Learn from, change it or rip it apart an build something totally new out of it. In the sense of Google's informal corporate motto "Don't be evil!" Apple is the devil. If you mess with Apple's software you could end up having a lot of fun with their lawyers. total freedem vs. a bit more guidence: Linux lets you digg very deep into the operating system. They user, if he is admin too, has total control over the system. By Design you can totally rebuild your system. OS X doesn't give you as much freedom, on the other hand you are not as likely to screw something up with your system.

The future of Linux is very bright.

A well fed penguin

Besides that Linux has a very robust business model and as such is here to stay on the desktop, I think Linux should be sold with high-end desktop PCs and laptop and should not be used on low cost hardware. It excels with high-end hardware, especially when used by talented people. Linux is a product for power users who want to use their computers to boost their creativity and create new exciting things. As Alan Key said:

The computer is simply an instrument whose music is ideas.

Now it's your turn. What is your opinion on that? By the way Hendrix mostly played the Stratocaster.

How To Learn Programming And Which Programming Language To Choose?

This is a little Python program I wrote. It lets you set the 12 Metacity (the gnome window manager) hotkeys for any application you like. Set any command you like in the left entry field of a row and the corresponding hotkey in the right entryfield. The format for the hotkeys looks like "<Control>a" or "<Shift><Alt>F1". The parser is fairly liberal and allows lower or upper case, and also abbreviations such as "<Ctl>" and "<Ctrl>". If you set the option to the special string "disabled", then there will be no keybinding for this action.

Download ghotkey and rock Ubuntu today. Download: ghotkey-0.1.tar.gz

About Us

What's Rockiger?

Rockiger is the idea to give Hackers and Geeks an instrument they can play with. A Rockiger Laptop should be loved by its owner as Jimi loved his guitar. As you know nothing works without love. To build such a laptop while having a lot of fun on this magic carpet ride is the declared goal of Rockiger.

Who is Rockiger?

At the moment Rockiger consist of an idea, the will to change something and myself. My name is Marco Laspe. I live in Germany in a city called Wiesbaden. I like to play tennis, love 80s Metal and would like to get a new dog. Besides, I want to change the world and this is the beginning.

What's in it for you?

Finally, it's getting interesting. You are the right place, if you are a Hacker or a Geek or you just want to have a really cool laptop, one that rocks, in the future. I will blog about any progress here.

You want to change world, too?

If you want to change the world, just call me: here, here or here. I need your help!