Innovation is a sound of every corner. What may be new and radical for someone, may be old news for others. Despite this subjectivity in identifying and classifying innovation, there has been valuable work in thinking about the focus of different innovation processes, guided by the question: what is it that innovation processes seek to change and improve?
INNOVATION 4P MODEL
The ‘4Ps’ model of John Bessant and Joe Tidd gives a powerful tool for such analysis. Its foundation based on the hypothesis that successful innovation is essentially about positive change, and puts forward 4 major categories where such change can take place
Perhaps the by and large understood type of innovation is that which introduces or improves the value of a product or service. The Split AC is an example of a product innovation, which has also benefited from a range of incremental innovations since its original invention.
There may also be innovative products which help to achieve organizational goals. For example, the Life Straw is a portable water filter developed by Vestergaard-Frandsen which enables individuals to drink clean water from almost any source. Product innovation leads to product development approaches.
Innovations also focus on processes through which products are produced or delivered to customers. By improving the process into innovative process organizations mostly enhance their efficiency and effectiveness. Examples of process innovations that have had a positive effect on organizational performance are automated packing, Adoption of CNC etc.
The third focus of innovation is re-positioning the perception of an existing product/services or process in a specific context. Position-based innovations refer to changes in how a specific product or process is perceived representatively and how they are used to achieve the organizational goals . For example, Levi-Strauss jeans are a well know global product line, formerly developed as manual workers’ clothing materials, but then re-branded as a fashion item.
The final ‘P’ of 4P innovation model relates to innovation that defines or redefines the dominant paradigms of an organization or entire sector. Paradigm-based innovations relate to the mental models which shape what an organization or business is about. Henry Ford provides a pithy quote, when talking about the development of the Model T motor car: ‘If I asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a five-legged horse’.