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What are the Types of Innovation

 Types of Innovation

Innovation at its core is about solving problems and there are as many ways to innovate as there are different types of problems to be solved.

Just as we don't rely on a single marketing tactic for the life of an organization, or a single source of funding, we need to create a set of innovation strategies tailored to specific tasks.

4 types of innovation

One of the most common ways to look at innovation is via the Innovation Matrix, which is included below.

The innovation matrix ranks innovations according to both the technology they use and the market in which the innovation operates. Thus it allows us to visualize four distinct forms of innovation:

1. Architectural innovation

Architectural innovation can be referred to as an “author” innovation. It involves taking an approach, technique or some lessons from one area and applying them in another.

This sounds very boring, but it is actually a very common form of innovation.

Research indicates that about 40% of patents registered over the past 150 years fall into this camp, with the percentage increasing each year.

Likewise, many of our most successful entrepreneurs who are immigrants is a case in point, where home standards and values are applied in new ways when moving to an adopted land.

2. Radical innovation

Radical innovation is perhaps the most important thing that comes to mind when we think of innovation, because it involves the birth of new industries and the application of revolutionary technologies.

It is also a relatively rare form of innovation, as such revolutions do not happen very often.

However, it does allow society to make great leaps forward, and advocates for the different technologies that make up the Fourth Industrial Revolution believe it will foster radical innovation in how everything from transportation to healthcare performs.

SeeEntrepreneurship: Concept, Description and Importance

3. Gradual or incremental innovation

The vast majority of innovations are incremental in nature.

Think of things like lean, where a culture of continuous improvement seeks to make lots of small and seemingly insignificant improvements across a wide range of areas, culminating in substantive improvements across the organization.

These incremental improvements are often smaller and therefore easier to access as they can often be done without the need for huge budgets, a large team, or reorientation of business strategy.

 Companies like Amazon have become leaders in this field, with continuous experimentation of their web interface resulting in daily improvement of the user experience.

4. Disruptive Innovation

The concept of disruptive innovation was popularized by the late Clayton Christensen, and refers to a time when innovation creates a fundamentally new value network.

It typically does this by creating a new market, but it can also do so by entering an existing market and changing how consumers interact with it.

Christensen's theory holds that innovations typically enter the market at a low point of performance, at least when measured by traditional measures of that market.

However, they offer value in an alternative way to a subset of the market for which this feature is very important.

This crossing bridge is then used to rapidly expand and disrupt the market.

And “super innovation” is needed when we are faced with a well-defined problem that is demonically difficult to solve.

In such cases, we need to explore non-traditional skill areas.

When the opposite is true - the skills are well defined, but the problem is not - we can take advantage of “disruptive innovation” strategies.

And when nothing is well defined, we're in an exploratory world and a pioneer in basic research.

There are always new problems to be solved; Learn how to apply the solution that fits your current problem.

Leaders define the right kind of strategy to solve the right kind of problem, just by asking two questions: 

  • How well can we define the problem?
  • How do we determine the skill domain(s) needed to solve it?

Well-defined problems that make use of well-defined skills fall into the category of “sustainable innovation”. 

Most innovations happen here, because most of the time we are trying to improve something we already do.

SeeEntrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation

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