There are, according to the designers at Doblin, exactly Ten Types of Innovation (R). And they should know, having diced and sliced through thousands of case studies involving hundreds of companies over nearly 14 years.
The tool that emerged, rendered as a simple color-coded chart, is genius. It works essentially as a lens that makes it easy to focus on strengths and weaknesses. Considering that a gobsmacking 96% of innovations actually don’t return their cost of capital—in other words, they’re flops—it becomes absolutely critical to do everything possible to up the odds of being in the fortunate 4%.
The most successful innovators and the most successful innovations—we saw this pattern time and time again—are those that are able to combine at least 5, preferably 6 or more types of innovations.
There are two Configuration Types: profit model, network, structure and process. Two Offerings: product performance and product system. And four Experiences: service, channel, customer and customer engagement.
Doblin-ers Brian Quinn and Ryan Pikkel’s presentation at the recent Design at Scale conference, Mind the Gap: Thoughts about crossing the stubborn divide between Design and Business, provides an excellent overview. (HT to Helen Walters at Thought You Should See This for posting the video, usually available only to conference attendees).
Not only do Quinn and PIkkel explain how the Ten Types can be used to guide the innovation process, but provide epiphanous insights into why business innovation can be so tricky:
The roots of management science is operations research. And operations research is all about taking a complex problem and breaking it down into component parts, trying to use knowable data to arrive at knowable optimal solutions… It is a discipline that’s fundamentally rooted in analysis. It’s rooted in the prove-able. It’s rooted in the known.
That makes innovation actually pretty difficult. It makes it really hard to look into the future sometimes. It can make dealing with ambiguity incredibly difficult for the average executive.
In fact, the business world tends to root out ambiguity almost wherever it finds it. You see it in things like command and control reporting, delineating decision rights and using dashboards and scorecards to keep track of KPI’s—Key Performance Indicators… They are all about one thing: removing ambiguity and minimizing uncertainty.
So when you think about something like innovation, which is almost fundamentally about generating the new, it can make it pretty hard for the executive. Staring into the unknown can feel like staring into the abyss…
And really, who wouldn’t, given such steep odds stacked against success?
So before getting up to pitch to a panel of VCs—who are, after all, conflicted souls torn between a desire to take risks and a mindset wired to avoid them—entrepreneurs would do well to use the Ten Types as a filter to analyze their Dream Ideas. A pitch that references at least six of them will help sift out the ambiguity, making it easier for VCs to see the Dream for the Next Big Thing it is.
— J. A. Ginsburg / @TrackerNews
For a quick backgrounder—a prelude to Quinn and PIkkel’s presentation—here is Geoff Tuff’s six-minute explanation of The Ten Types: