Innovation doesn’t happen out of thin air. Innovation happens from analogies. It is leveraged from similar solutions you have seen applied in other industries and applications. In effect, all innovation is incremental building one off another; each technological break-through enabling the next. The most critical starting point for innovating is to fully understand the problem your trying to solve; to experience it in is actual environment; to research it and to fully immerse yourself. You then go through the processes of Analysis and Synthesis.
Analysis is the process of breaking up a complex problem into discrete parts or components. Naturally, ideas or concepts that you might generate in a traditional brainstorm are most likely to be fragmented parts or features of a whole solution. It is important to take a broad view and generalize what these fragmented ideas are really trying to accomplish. This allows you to “open up” the potential solution set and not allow yourself to get mired in the specific details of ideas that really aren’t fully thought out at this point anyway.
Then here is the powerful part - Synthesis. Synthesis is where you re-assemble the puzzle of fragmented ideas and features into an integrated solution. It is important to do this in a way that allows you to test your ideas and weed out what isn’t going to work as quickly and efficiently as possible. The basic laws of Physics and Business definitely apply. Fail fast and iterate is the mantra. Only from there do you start to generate knowledge that leads to true innovation - right out of thin air.