13 Dimensions of Innovation

by Daniel Nolan

13 Dimensions of Innovation - Innovation ExcellenceWhen the word “innovation” is used in today’s business environment, the connotation of new and exciting products come to mind. The latest gadget and how it will make our lives easier, more productive or more fun is the topic of conversation and highlighted on the morning social media feed. But innovation is more than a new product. There are many dimensions in which innovation can, and possibly should, occur.

Innovation can occur in one or more of 13 different dimensions

The Innovation Radar, developed by Mohanbir Sawhney, Robert C. Wolcott, and Inigo Arroniz, provides the initial 12 areas available for business innovation.  By adding the business model to the list presents a holistic and comprehensive approach, yielding 13 dimensions an organization can review for innovation.

13 dimensions of innovation include:

  • Product/Service
  • Platform
  • Solution
  • Customer Needs
  • Customer Experience
  • Communication
  • Process
  • Revenue Generation
  • Management
  • Supply Chain
  • Channel
  • Partnership
  • Business Model

In addition, each of the 13 dimensions of innovation can be placed in one of three buckets, growth opportunities, core capabilities and operations, and the over arching business model.  The segmentation of the dimensions assist in ensuring that the areas selected for innovation align with the business and innovation strategy set at the beginning of the initiative.  Figure 1 outlines each of the innovation dimensions.

Figure 1

The value of defining the dimensions of potential innovation provides a guide as well as consistent vocabulary for innovation.

It is a flexible tool that, when based on the strategy, helps point the company toward the areas that will benefit the most for incremental or disruptive changes.  This applies to growth opportunities, core capabilities and operations, as well as the overarching business model.  Leveraging the dimensions also allows for consistent measurement and management of innovation over time.  It creates a profile of a company’s current and future innovation strategy reflected in the project portfolio.

One thing to consider is that it is often advantageous if not critical to look at changing more than one dimension to attain true innovation.  If a new product is developed, innovating in the Business Model dimension is advised.  A new product may open opportunities for new customers or new customer segments, a new way to get paid, develop a new message for marketing, improve or change processes, or change parts of the supply chain.  For a disruptive innovation, innovating in more than one dimension is needed.

Business innovation comes in 13 dimensions, often at once.  Awareness of the dimensions aids in pushing an innovation program farther or at least allows for the discussion of how far the organization is willing to go.  Viewing innovation as a tool that can impact many areas of a company offers many more opportunities than looking only at products.

image credit: wikimedia.org

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Daniel Nolan is the Founder & Chief Idea Guy/Principal Consultant at Denovo, an innovation consulting group, where he partners with clients to promote sustainable growth and build innovation capabilities. Daniel developed the Rapid Deployed Innovation System (RDIS) and Holistic Integrated Innovation Framework (HIIF). His company is dedicated to a holistic approach based on real world consulting experience, psychology of the creative process, and current academic research.

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