I came across an old speech that Steve Jobs gave the Academy of Achievement in June of 1982. He makes a few points that I firmly believe have helped me recognize problems and innovate to solve them.
1. Zoom out and look at the big picture. John Sculley, who was the CEO of Apple said that “Steve was not an engineer — he just saw different things that people were working on and connected the dots between them.” I think good ideas come from solving a piece of the big picture while revolutionary ideas come from questioning the big picture as a whole.
2. Fill your memory with great ideas and knowledge. This will give you the building blocks of information and wide view of possibilities that you can build off of or tweak to solve new problems.
3. Seek out unique experiences that not many other people have. Similar to the second point made above, Steve mentions in his speech that you will need different experiences than others have if you expect to have different ideas.