Ten Types of Innovation
Larry Keeley and others (2013)
Categorising innovation is rarely done, and leads to confusion and lack of focus. Keeley and his team have done a good job in capturing how the term ‘innovation’ can be applied across different areas of business, and how to make an effective impact. Keeley reminds the reader that innovation is more than just a brainstorm (usually just a collection of random ideas, sometimes also call a ‘thought shower’), and that focus and discipline are the keys to successful innovation.
Xerox has long had a reputation for innovation at PARC in California. Less well-known was its UK research base where work was being done in the 1970’s into technologies that are present in products of today.
Xerox’s US management set the UK labs an extraordinary challenge. In the days when Xerox copiers were substantial, floor-standing systems, they challenged the UK team to develop a table-top copier within 18 months.
This was a bold reverse engineering challenge. The product would be directed at a completely new market, at a lower price point, and could only be developed through radical innovation. Everything in the Xerox copier orthodoxy was challenged, from the paper to the lamp.
The fruits of that innovation changed Xerox’s perception of what was possible, and today’s multi-function, desk-top printers contain many features from that innovation.
Effective reverse innovation is a route to new markets and new products – often in ways not evident at the point of innovation.
NOTE: This case study is drawn from personal experience; it is not a formally approved case study from Xerox.