The way(s) to innovation

Today innovation has become key to companies’ success: companies need to improve and change their way of doing business to survive.

When trying to innovate, companies often mistake considering just one way to reach innovation. The truth is that innovation takes many forms. How can companies find the innovation approach suitable for them?

To find the best approach to innovation, companies should perform an innovation mapping starting with two questions: (1) How well is the problem defined? (Problem definition) – (2) Who is best placed to solve it? (Domain definition).

Providing answers to the questions above allows to build the innovation matrix, and understand which of the following four quadrants the needed innovation belongs to:

  1. Breakthrough innovation: the problem is defined but hard to solve – need to explore unconventional skill domains.
  2. Sustaining innovation: problem and domain are both well defined, it concerns the improvement of existing capabilities in an existing market – seeking to get better at what we’re already doing.
  3. Disruptive innovation: the problem is not well defined. It occurs when the basis of the competition changes (ex. technological shift) – to innovate the business model.
  4. Basic research: problem and domain are not well defined. It can be considered the first step to a more detailed definition of the problem and the domain – focus on the discovery of a new phenomenon.


Depending on the quadrant companies can identify the best strategy to apply in order to pursue their innovation objective and reach effectiveness and efficiency of operations.

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