Larry Keeley’s Ten Types of Innovation

Leading expert on innovation Larry Keeley spoke Monday evening to an audience of entrepreneurs at a function hosted by Deloitte Private.

As President and co-founder of innovation strategy firm Doblin, Mr. Keeley was in New Zealand from his Chicago base, and earlier in the day had presented an innovation workshop at Callaghan Innovation.

A theme of the presentation was that too often in New Zealand there’s too narrow a focus on product innovation, ignoring the other equally important types of innovation that contribute to business success.

This rang true to me, as one who had been on the frustrating end of discussions in the pre-Callaghan days of TechNZ, when ‘innovation’ seemed to be defined as ‘patentable science’, which to me never made much sense.

In contrast, Doblin identifies ten types of innovation, grouped into three categories. Only one of these categories relates to the product itself, the other categories of innovation relating to business configuration and to the customer experience.

Doblin Ten Types of InnovationDoblin uses the diagram above to illustrate the ten types of innovation. The Doblin website and iPad app explain each type of innovation and provide examples.

Mr. Keeley provided the guideline that a successful idea should include elements of at least five or six of these types of innovation, with at least one innovation in each of the three colour-coded categories.

Innovation is a discipline.”

Another point made very clearly by Mr. Keeley was that innovation is a discipline, not a creative activity. Dreaming up new products or features, in isolation, “provides the lowest return on investment and the least competitive advantage.”

This Ten Types framework can be used to evaluate innovation ideas and proposals. How does your latest pet project measure up?


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