Discontinuous Innovation: Radically change how you think

Continuous innovation, discontinuous innovation, incremental innovation, disruptive innovation. So, what’s the difference between them and how do you use them in your company?

Before we delve deeper into these different discontinuous innovation classifications, let’s take a look at the latest insights into the global innovation scene.

According to Strategy&, based on its 2016 Global Innovation Study, some surprising information has emerged in the innovation landscape recently.

First, health and wellness care have shown a tendency to receive more Research & Development resources than Computing and Electronics areas up to 2018.

Check out these numbers:
  • A 19% drop in resource allocation for Product Development Research & Development
  • Only 0.04% growth in global R & D expenditures
  • A prediction that Research & Development budgets on products will fall 19% (compared to 2010) by 2020.
  • Companies that apply 25% or more of their R & D budget to software grow faster.
  • $ 680 billion was spent on Research and Development in 2016.

Apparently, we are going through a change in the way companies invest in Research & Development.

This may indicate two trends:

  1. Companies are shifting their innovation investments into consumer software products in a first move to invest in health and well-being later on.
  2. Companies have understood that software investment is the basis for working better and that the quality of this investment in innovation (not the monetary amount) is what makes the difference.

This perception is reinforced when we look at the ranking of the most innovative companies, where Apple, for 7 consecutive years, has been considered the most innovative organization in the world, even with a significantly lower budget than the second position (this is a trend that has been repeated since 2010).

See the 2016 ranking:

what is discontinuous innovation

In this context, we will address some service or product innovation concepts, their different classifications, and how your company can take advantage of discontinuous innovation in your business.

Learn more: What is disruptive innovation? The great decision that changes an era!

What is discontinuous innovation? The 3 most accepted classifications

The truth is that despite the somewhat different names, the concepts involved in these 3 innovation classifications are quite similar.

First Classification:

  • Continuous Innovation:

    That which only adds something or a new feature to an already existing concept. Example: Adding anti-bacterial ingredients to soap.

  • Dynamically Continuous Innovation:

    There is more than one addition, but one characteristic that defines the product changes. However, without changing consumption patterns. Example: The launch of liquid soap in place of traditional bar soaps. There’s a change in an intrinsic feature of the product, but the same people consume it for the same purpose.

  • Discontinuous Innovation:

    A new product is launched, totally different from the previous, leading to a significant change in consumption habits. Example: Disposable sanitizing tissues to be used on the body instead of the shower or bath.

See also: Disruptive innovation: Is it the new fashionable business expression?

Second classification:

  • Incremental Innovation:

    The same concept of continuous innovation, that is, characteristics added to a product or service, such as the launch of the automatic gearbox instead of the manual gearbox in vehicles.

  • Transformational Innovation:

    Along the lines of dynamically discontinuous innovation. An example would be electric cars, which use an alternative driving force, but in which people continue to have to drive them to their destinations.

  • Radical Innovation:

    Similar to discontinuous innovation, again this type of innovation must include a change in how you interact with the product and how it’s consumed.

Cars with no need for drivers are an example. Before, the pleasure of driving was part of the product.

With driverless cars, it’s possible to work, sleep, play and do anything else while the car moves you. This will radically change the way the product is consumed.

Even if you want to deliver an order to someone, soon you’ll be able to just send your car. The recipient accepts the package, and the car goes back to its garage on its own.

Check out: Disruptive Business Models: The Formula Revealed

Third Classification:

We should reaffirm that all these classifications are very similar, but, currently, most companies use this third innovation classification.

  • Improvement:

    It’s not even really an innovation, for example, paper strainers that came to replace cloth strainers.

  • Incremental Innovation:

    It has already been mentioned in the previous classification. In this case, though it’s more similar to transformational innovation (a mere graduation issue between one classification and another). We can suggest the emergence of soluble coffees or domestic electric coffee machines as examples.

  • Disruptive Innovation:

    Its concept is based on discontinuous or radical innovation. There’s a revolution in the way to consume the product and conduct business, or the creation of a new market.

Espresso machines with aluminum capsules that preserve coffee aroma and taste, that previously only specialized coffee shops could achieve with the aid of high-pressure compressors, are a good example.

No longer you do need to go to an Italian coffee shop, or another establishment to taste your espresso in the most different and refined flavors. Now, you can have that pleasure at home.

In addition, there was the creation of a whole new industry, both for the supply of special coffee powders and aluminum capsules from manufacturers, as well as for the manufacturers of the machines themselves.

See also: Disruptive Leadership: Respect your subordinates and look to the future

As you have seen, rather than adding features or launching new products, discontinuous (disruptive or radical) innovation introduces a new way of observing, managing and producing in a business area.

Businesses are altering their processes, and the big players are gradually abandoning the old way.

Do you want to analyze your processes thoroughly and find a way to introduce discontinuous innovation to your company by revolutionizing the market?

Try HEFLO, the free and web based process modeling tool in the cloud, which helps you to continuously improve processes in an agile and intuitive way.

1 Comment. Leave new

  • David W. Locke
    July 19, 2020 9:25 pm

    When did Apple innovate last? Apple is stuck. It has no next technology.

    The table that tells us what is being invested is reflecting the industry into which the investment is being made, not the technology that is actually being invested. Tesla is about batteries.

    There only two types of ideas: discontinuous and continuous. The rest of the terminology is noise. Oh, well.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.