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IT Innovation and the Innovation Life Cycle

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David Croslin offers a proven, step-by-step method for consistently creating revolutionary products, services, and processes. In this chapter from his book, Innovate the Future, he discusses the types of innovation and the life cycle that innovation takes.
This chapter is from the book

Now that we know about ideas and the transformative value process necessary to decide whether those ideas should be dismissed, are worthy of becoming inventions, or maybe even are innovations, it's time to understand in more detail the types of innovation and the life cycle that innovation takes. This is important since where our idea falls in the life cycle will determine how we need to think about the idea and what next steps we take to maximize the value of the idea.

Yes, ideas that are successful (or even some that are not) do go through a life cycle. It can be that the idea is so new and radical that it is a new innovation and must go through all of the growing pains and excitement of initial innovation that then disrupts the marketplace.

It's possible that the idea, although quite innovative, is more of an add-on to an existing idea and better thought of as incremental innovation. Such incremental innovation usually starts out as positive but, when continued too long, can frequently end up as negative and ultimately destructive.

How can one tell where "positive" ends and "negative" starts? The key is the concept of inflection points in thinking about ideas and where they potentially fall. A knowledge of these concepts will keep the astute reader on the path of the optimal innovation life cycle. It's important to know when you are throwing good money after bad, especially when you can be putting that good money into the next disruptive innovation!

Innovation Types

To provide a foundation for the book, Chapter 1 presented many types of invention and innovation. In total, six distinct types of innovation are discussed in this book, and they can be grouped into four categories:

  • Innovations that evolve a product and impact the perceived value of the product:
    • - Disruptive innovation: A new product that creates a shift in an existing market or creates a new market
    • - Incremental innovation: Something that adds new value to an existing foundational product that was created by a previous disruptive innovation
  • Innovations that define how a company chooses to spend its invention innovation budget:
    • - Internal innovation: Invention and innovation that is directed internally within a company to deliver cost savings, process improvements, or other internal benefits
    • - External innovation: Invention and innovation that is directed externally toward delivering product innovations to a consumer and a market
  • Innovation that targets consumers whose lifestyle priorities do not justify the best product possible:
    • - Good enough innovation: Creating a product offering that meets the reduced lifestyle priorities of a consumer subgroup
  • Innovation that ensures that the target consumer and market are well understood before invention begins:
    • - Targeted innovation: Clearly matching a company's business priorities with consumer priorities prior to product invention so as to maximize the transformative value of the product
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