For innovation to be successful, a mix of activities should be encouraged and embraced.
At the moment, many of the organisations I speak to are already innovating on an incremental scale; making small-scale internal changes to existing processes, quick wins if you will. There’s no doubt that these are culturally and commercially vital. You only have to look at Waitrose, who made seemingly small changes to the way they format till receipts and have seen continuous rewards, saving £100m per year.
And at the other end of the scale, are organisations who are driving radical innovation. This type of innovation is strongly associated with large-scale, radical projects which fall within the remit of R&D or other specialists. This innovation category is complex, typically requiring significant capital investment and carrying considerable risk. By this, I mean companies like pharma provider Novartis who’ve recently launched new low-cost drugs for heart disease and diabetes.
But between these polar extremes are other options, namely differentiated innovation. This is typically characterised by medium scale changes, with low to medium risk that involve multiple teams, are customer-focused, create competitive advantage and are able to happen frequently, with significant results. Differentiated innovation allows organisations to start to unlock their true innovation capacity. It’s a type of innovation that’s tangible but also palatable, and can be delivered across all aspects of the organisation, driving enhanced customer experience, greater internal and external engagement and real business benefit.
All of these options are valuable and are capable of moving the needle to some extent. Organisations should have a sustainable, practical, strategically aligned mix across the spectrum and evaluate regularly