Chapter 2. Discovering a Disruptive Opportunity: Explore the Least Obvious

“The most important advances are the least predictable ones.”

—Sir Francis Bacon1

People often say, “Apple doesn’t do consumer research.” This usually precedes an argument against the need for market research of any kind. But, the designers at Apple do conduct research—it’s just not the traditional kind you read about in consumer behavior textbooks. It’s informal, impromptu, and driven by acute observations of the context in which their products are used. Being insightful isn’t a question of talent; it’s a question of awareness.

Awareness is essentially being mindful of the cultural and social constructs that surround you and the people for whom you are creating something ...

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