The different types of innovation

Design strategy: You’ll already know that we deliver project work but we also help businesses to manage innovation better and increase their internal capabilities. Innovation is a complex area so here we discuss the different types of innovation.

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Many businesses apply a ‘one size fits all’ approach to innovation. Totally understandable, as it’s a complex area with lots of nuances. When working on our clients’ design strategies, we normally focus on three types:

1. Step (or incremental) innovation

Making small improvements to something that already exists. Think new sizes, new colours, new flavours or small functionality additions to your product. Step innovation is an opportunity for a manufacturer to fix small problems and add minor functionality to an existing product. Innovations like these aren’t usually communicated and happen behind the scenes.

2. Sustaining innovation

The fundamentals of a product remain the same, but manufacturers add new features, functionality, and fresh styling. Like the annual unveiling of the latest iPhone handset upgrade.

3. Disruptive innovation

Creating a completely new way of solving an audience’s problem. One of the outcomes of disruptive innovation is to change behaviour. Think Spotify. They took an existing problem – a lack of budget to purchase all the music we’d like to listen to – and found a new way to solve it. Before Spotify (back in the dark ages!), we bought CDs but could only listen to what we bought. Spotify’s licensing model meant people could listen to what they wanted, when they wanted, without the same constraints. And significantly – all within the same budget for the consumer.

Consider your projects planned for this year. What types of innovation do they represent?

If you need advice, Kristo is always happy to jump on a call and discuss in more detail. Book your call or follow Kristo on LinkedIn for regular insights directly to your newsfeed.

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