Is innovation really that simple?

I’m reading an interesting book by Denis Hauptly called Something Really New, which purports to boil innovation down to 3 simple steps:

1) What is your product used for?
2) What are the steps that compose that task, and can any of them be removed?
3) What is the next thing the cusotmer will do after using your product?

Hauptly points out in the book that there are two types of innovation, essentially incremental and wholesale, and this type of three-step process is more applicable to incremental innovations.  The small (incremental) innovaiton is not necessarily less valuable to a company, and it is more likely to be teachable.  By honing one’s focus on the purpose of products and the specific steps of the tasks they enable, attention is being focused on workflows and on looking for opportunities to optimize.

How does one reach life-changing innovation?  Is it the same as incremental, but just a better target for optimization?  Or is it something existential that may only happen to people in a hightened state of mind or with higher skills?  I suppose if I truly knew the answer, I’d be a more successful innovator!  That said, while I think creativity and skill plays a great part in it, innovation is probably not as likely if one doesn’t focus attention on the steps required to accomplish tasks, and the tasks which come before and after a task–which is what this book helps to do.  For communication of that mindset, I find it valuable.


~ by John Peltier on September 16, 2009.

One Response to “Is innovation really that simple?”

  1. A product enables or improves task performance. Incremental may do both. But, wholesale will do the former, the enabled task performance.

    What might get lost here is that if an innovation is radical or disruptive enough, like container shipping, it might eliminate a whole slew of tasks while enabling new task performance. This is were increasing returns economics lives, aka the wholesale creation of a new value chain. This is also where wealth is created.

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