Friday, June 1, 2012

The Importance of Incremental Innovation

When people think of innovation they think of the concept of the breakthrough. Everybody loves a breakthrough. Just look at what digital imaging did to film. A breakthrough technology that completely disrupted an entire industry in a relatively short period of time. When breakthroughs take place the fact of the matter is that people take notice and it can have a significant impact on the world at large. This is why breakthroughs are important and recognized.

Needless to say people generally don't recognize incremental innovation as a part of innovation. After all if you create a new technology that only improves upon existing technology what is there to take notice of. A great example of this would be making minor improvements to the reception of a cellphone antenna.

What makes incremental innovation so important? The most important aspect of incremental innovation is equilibrium. Breakthrough innovations, especially competence destroying breakthroughs such as the case of digital imaging can involve significant risk and affect the sustainability of an organization. The key to success is by finding equilibrium within an organization between achieving breakthroughs and using incremental innovation to sustain what you have and maintain market share.

By focusing only on breakthrough innovation and neglecting incremental innovation you are simply not balancing your portfolio of risk.


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