Incremental vs. High Impact Innovations

Do you assess the market and business impact of your innovations?

Have they provided significant organic growth?

Have they contributed to both your top and bottom-line?

If your company’s performance gains from new product or service innovations are merely incremental you are likely approaching innovation from a problem-solving perspective:

Extrinsically motivated companies focus their primary development efforts on responding to competitive pressures and execute on customer requests or complaints. This reactive problem-solving approach can result in incremental innovations with little or no performance gains for customers and the business.

To achieve higher impact innovations one needs to invest in a proactive outside-in visioning process. By outside-in we mean engaging customers, industry and community leaders in a dialogue where high impact future possibilities emerge through a structured process. This emergent value discovery process will build, what Peter Senge calls creative tension between the present and the future of your organization. Involving external and internal stakeholders in one’s visioning process is one of the most effective ways to also build intrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is a necessary building block for innovation and creativity to flourish. It allows organizations to reach beyond what they thought was possible. Employees that are involved in exploring novel future possibilities at the product, service or business model level will deliver higher impact results and more innovative solutions when they participate in that early visioning process.

Peter Senge describes the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation:

Many people and organizations find themselves motivated to change only when their problems are bad enough to cause them to change. This works for a while, but the change process runs out of steam as soon as the problem driving the change becomes less pressing. With problems solving, the motivation is extrinsic. With creative tension the motivation is intrinsic.


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