Knowing that you want to innovate - and that you’re ready to innovate - is one thing. But understanding how you’re going to innovate is quite another! And this is one of the most overlooked obstacles that most businesses will face when starting their journey towards business innovation.
It’s a word we all use, but if we’re asked to actually explain innovation, we’re stumped!
Innovation is very much an umbrella term. It doesn’t refer to one specific idea or process or product, but is instead used to this concept of doing something outside the norm; doing something different. And when we look at innovation in this way, it’s easy to see how there are so many different types of innovation routes we can venture down, with each form driving a different type of business strategy and end goal.
So… what are the main types of innovation?
While there is almost unlimited potential for the type of innovation that can be adopted and embraced by companies, it can all be boiled down into four primary categories:
Sounds simple enough, right? And it is. But it gets a little more complex when you consider that each of these four types of innovation contains specific activities, like…
Just to add to the complexity, these specific innovations can be present in practically any one of the four primary categories. Take product innovation, for example. If you develop a never-before-seen product using new technologies, you’d be innovating architecturally. But if you were to take an existing product and update it to make it better in response to customer feedback, you’d be innovating routinely.
Same goes for market innovation. Entering a new market using your existing products? That’s disruptive. But if you’re striving for a stronger position within your existing market by utilising a new approach, that would be considered to be more of a radical form.
So what type of innovation is best for your business? Which innovation process should you deploy for the best results? Well, that all depends on whether you’re looking to leverage the power of innovation to help drive you closer towards your organisation’s short or long term goals.
As you’ve probably already discovered, finding and maintaining the balance between short term and long term goals can be challenging. And this is especially true when it comes to your innovation efforts. When you innovate for long term success, you run the risk of forgetting about the core operations needed to keep the business running smoothly on a day-to-day basis. And when you innovate for short term success, you’re failing to invest in strategies and ideas that support future growth and development.
So it’s really important to understand how these four different types of innovation can be used separately - and together - to give you a bit more balance and ensure that your innovative mindset is edging you closer towards the results you’re hoping for.
The short term impacts of innovation can drastically affect day-to-day business operations, and need to be approached with super speed. For short term success, it’s essential to have people in place that can execute change instantly across existing systems, and take very vague ideas with little budget and translate them into potential.
Types of innovation driving short term value include…
The long term impacts of innovation are all about future-proofing your organisation to ensure it remains relevant to customers in tomorrow’s landscape. These innovations must be actioned by people who are able to identify valuable ideas in the very earliest stages, to ensure businesses don’t miss out on innovations that could be crucial later on.
Types of innovation driving long term value include…
Every business always has short and long term goals, and you probably find that you’re always trying to pick one to work on in the short term, and one to work on in the long term. That’s a good system to have, but remember that you don’t have to be innovating in all four ways at the same time! Look at your short term goal for the quarter. Look at your long term goal for the quarter. And explore how you can drive these business strategies using the right type of innovation, at the right time.