Discontinuous Innovation


Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined as idea selection, development and commercialisation.

There are other useful definitions in this field, for example, creativity can be defined as consisting of a number of ideas, a number of diverse ideas and a number of novel ideas.

There are distinct processes that enhance problem identification and idea generation and, similarly, distinct processes that enhance idea selection, development and commercialisation. Whilst there is no sure fire route to commercial success, these processes improve the probability that good ideas will be generated and selected and that investment in developing and commercialising those ideas will not be wasted.

Discontinuous Innovation

Discontinuous innovation is very closely related to radical innovation. In fact, the two are often interchangeable. There are three important methods of achieving discontinuous innovation and one important consideration:

a) Incremental innovations result in radical or discontinuous innovations. Small changes have big effects and the input of new knowledge can push thought into radical new directions.

b) Starting over or creative destruction. It is hard to improve on the ball point pen or the pencil. Years of incremental improvements have not yielded a significant change. Starting over with no past memory would perhaps encourage a paradigm shift.

c) Importing distant knowledge to affect the problem. Just as IT has influenced the way the publishing industry operates, so perhaps importing knowledge from a distant industry, such as laser technology, may help improve upon the ball point pen.

Finally, it may be that once an optimal solution has been found, there is no going beyond that point. The pencil is almost an optimal solution – efficient, easy to make and cheap. Similarly, evolution has designed legs – is there a better solution for us?

Categories : Innovation

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