We’ve seen how you can locate your position in the Daily Innovation Model, built to help companies see innovation as a daily function of their job. When we place the continua on two axes – incremental to radical and process to product – things get interesting and we end up with four quadrants:
Quadrant 1 – Steady growth
At the bottom right lies incremental-product innovation or change. I’ve labelled it “steady growth.” A company that is constantly looking to improve its offering to the market will enjoy the fruits of its labour in small, steady doses. An example is a box of cereal “now fortified with iron,” that gives a boost to flagging sales of “regular” cereal. Or a management consulting business that adds tax advice into its offering. Through steady growth you milk existing clients for more or add smaller niche segments to already served markets.
Quadrant 2 – Productivity gain
To the left of steady growth lies Productivity Gain, where incremental-process innovations happen. These can be classified as small changes in the way we produce and deliver our goods and services. Streamlining paperwork, reducing steps, tweaks to the shop floor, technology improvements, material substitution and others classify as process improvements. The big benefit to the company comes through cost reduction or improved efficiency. Like “Steady Growth” these gains will also impact the bottom line in a gradual incremental manner.
Quadrant 3 – Industry Leadership
The third quadrant appears at the intersection of radical and process innovation and results in Industry Leadership. A great example would be the assembly line. The original static assembly line that R.E. Olds invented in 1902 resulted in an increase in production from 425 to 2,500 cars. Henry Ford then incrementally innovated this into the moving assembly line. The problem with industry leadership of this nature is that it suffers from the Red Queen effect. While the company may reap big dividends in the short run, the position of leadership will remain short-lived – until competitors start adopting the same methods. In the words of a U2 song, they are all “running to stand still.”
Quadrant 4 – Game Change
Here is where things really get interesting in the Daily Innovation Model. Radical-product innovation is the holy grail. Most of the stories we hear are from this domain. Uber, self driving cars, robotics, microprocessors et al, changed the game for their founding companies, their customers and also for a lot more upstream and downstream providers. While they hog all the limelight, the truth behind the scenes is not unlike the cinema or sports industries. All we see are the stars, and none of the failures by the wayside. And neither do we see the effort and resources that went into the success.
It is easy to talk after the fact about the young kid who dropped out of college because he in his invention, and became a billionaire by age 30. Yet how many of us would actually take that risk? Because along with a lot of reward at the game changing end of the spectrum, there also lies a lot of risk, hard work and an exponential potential to fail.
But how can you conquer your own Daily Innovation Zone? We’ll see that next.
FROM THE START:
“Innovation is not for us”, they say
By Rumman Ahmad. An MSc in Creativity and Change Leadership from Buffalo State University, Rumman trains, teaches and facilitates groups of people to learn and apply the creative process to solve problems, energizing and motivating them to do their best. He is also the organizer of an annual conference on innovation in Pakistan. An Exago partner since 2016 in this key geography, Rumman has developed a Model for Daily Innovation which can be complemented by Exago’s innovation management software.