Book review: Ten Types of Innovation

I’ve been reading Ten Types of Innovation by Larry Keeley and Helen Walters lately and am thoroughly enjoying it. Their framework is applicable to companies of all sizes (start-ups to corporate behemoths who have been around for eons.)

In their book, Keeley et al argue that innovation is not the practice of a single creative genius randomly striking eureka moments out of the blue but rather, a systematic and disciplined process that a company as a whole can engage in.

The following types of innovation represent areas where the authors believe companies can start thinking about opportunities for change and disruption:

  1. Profit Model: how you make money.
  2. Network: how you connect with others to create value.
  3. Structure: how you organise and align your talent and assets.
  4. Process: how you use signature or superior methods to do your work.
  5. Product Performance: how you develop distinguishing features and functionality.
  6. Product System: how you create complimentary products and services.
  7. Service: how you support and amplify the value of your offerings.
  8. Channel: how you deliver your offerings to customers and users.
  9. Brand: how you represent your offerings and business.
  10. Customer Engagement: how you foster compelling interactions.

One of the main reasons I’m a strong advocate for this framework is because of its breadth and depth.

In the past, innovation theory has been quite limited (to say the least.) The focus has often been on incremental vs radical or product vs service innovation. While these distinctions are important, they can severely limit one’s imagination when looking for ways to approach innovation or install it as a regular discipline within an organisation.

The real litmus test for any framework is its implementation practicality. The authors have devoted an entire section to this subject (Part Six: Fostering Innovation.) Establishing metrics and frequently measuring performance will determine whether investments in innovation are paying off.

All in all, well worth the read for entrepreneurs, industry captains, product managers and those within organisations constantly looking to push the envelope.