How to keep innovation efforts from failing before they even get off the ground

A surefire way to guarantee that an innovation effort will fail is to incorrectly define the type of innovation at its core, according to Kumar Mehta, PhD, principal and founder of innovation think tank Bridges Insight.

Therefore, the first step in launching any initiative is to determine which category it falls into — broadly divided into incremental and transformational innovation — and form a plan of action that best serves that category, Dr. Mehta wrote in an op-ed for Forbes.

Most innovations are incremental: improvements or upgrades to existing products and services. According to Dr. Mehta, succeeding in this category requires a clearly defined goal and an unambiguous improvement plan, as well as one unified team and a single, cohesive set of priorities.

Transformational innovation, meanwhile, comprises entirely new and unprecedented inventions. In these cases, success will be determined not by a heavy reliance on careful analysis and planning, but by flexibility, open-mindedness and a diverse community-based approach to problem-solving while working toward a more broadly defined outcome.

"Understanding the differences between these two innovation activities can help resolve a common pain point facing most organizations," Dr. Mehta wrote. "Not all innovation is equal. Understanding the differences between types of innovation and matching the right activities to the desired outcomes gets you started on the right track."

More articles on innovation:
Purdue U invests $500K in university-affiliated AI startup
Houston Methodist CMIO: How transformational innovation is 'bringing the joy back to healthcare'
Texas Children's joins Team USA's medical technology, innovation fund

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