Scott Anthony in an article @Innosight talks about how Boredom can drive Innovation. Though cleverly titled, the article is meant to share his 15 minutes observation outside a medical shop or the pharmacy to use the right word. His observations are not unique, nothing that you would not know if you live in India, but from an outsider’s perspective, there are a couple of information points ( I would dare not call them insights) on how pharmacy retails work in India.
Now the author had these observations while he was getting bored on the road, but I would say you can be observant anytime and anywhere irrespective of your status of boredom. You can be observant while you are very interested in something or someone. Curiosity is more important to be a good observer than anything else. And yes, a neutral out of frame observations give you the best insights into people and situations. Look at the people around you who you would never call Innovative and you would find that they are not as curious and hence not observant.
As they say in creativity circles – Curiosity is the key to creativity and hence can we extend it to Innovation.