Fast Company has an article by KAIHAN KRIPPENDORFF on 4 steps to breakthrough ideas. These are good rules to use when you want to kick ass on your competitors and build solutions that they have a hard time copying. Here are the 4 four rules.
Step 1: Change the question
Step 2: Find a new metaphor
Step 3: Reuse what you have
Step 4: Perform a quick and dirty test
The article is short, and finishes reiterating the 4 points.
There are a few people in the data center industry who use this approach, and these are some of the funnest most interesting people to talk to.