Albert Szent-Gyorgi, who won the Nobel Prize in 1937 for discovering vitamin C, once said “Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought.”
When it comes to innovation, or its cousins invention and discovery, we tend to think of it as a process of discovering solutions. In fact, it is more often a process of discovering the right problems. Tom Kelley, of IDEO, talks so eloquently here about the value of finding the right problem in talking about how IDEO's designers were able to discover a new problem in what was essentially an old and mature market, kid's toothbrushes.
The most important point in this brief sketch is Tom's udnerlying message, that innovation requires a naive and optimistic approach that suggests anyone can (and should) look at the same problems so many others have looked at before, and see them in a way no one else has seen before. Just because others are solving a problem (like toothbrushes for kids) doesn't mean they're solving the most important problem.