The natural tendency of companies that are trying to enter a new space is to ‘go to the experts’. After all, aren’t these the people with the knowledge that is required to understand the technologies, the markets, and the ecosystem the company is trying to learn?
From an innovation perspective, however, it is the expert community that can put the blinders on. After all, it is the experts themselves that have helped create the ecosystem as it exists and who have a vested interest in perpetuating what they have helped create. Experts can describe in excutiating detail how the current system works, but are often blind when it comes to imagining a new system.
New research confirms this. Experts, and tapping into expert knowledge, is important, but it is not enough. As the authors conclude:
“…innovation thrives when expert users make up about 40% of an invention team. Any less and the company will lose sight of what its customers need; any more and the group will tend to converge on old ideas … Industry insiders are invaluable, but so are outsiders who can see industry challenges and opportunities with fresh eyes.”
For more on the role of experts in innovation, read a short paper on The Role of the Expert in Innovation.