How Many Types of Innovation Are There? The Answer May Surprise You.

Organizing the types of innovation can help streamline your processes and boost results.

The pool from which innovation emerges is filled with big ideas and endless creativity. Thus, in a way, innovation is infinite, bound only by the depth of thought processes. However,  without limits or structure, innovation can be impossible to harness, rendering it useless. For this reason, thought leaders grapple with generating methods of categorizing types of innovation as a means of channeling some of the creativity.

Nick Skillicorn, CEO of Improvides Innovation Consulting, provides consulting services to companies looking to bring more new ideas to their projects and processes, thereby solving problems more quickly and expanding their offerings. He has mapped out 15 types of innovation that can help you and your company break new ground. In an easy-to-understand-and-remember format, Skillicorn expresses his ideas succinctly in bullet points in an infographic that company leaders can post in every employee’s office.

A few examples include:

Innovation Type 1: TRIZ

One particularly thorough exercise in unleashing innovation is known by the acronym TRIZ for its name in Russian, or in English, TIPS (Theory of Inventive Problem-Solving). 

So often at work, we encounter problems that seem unsolvable. Sometimes walking away and coming back later helps, and other times brainstorming with colleagues is beneficial. 

However, there are some drawbacks to these approaches. While the human brain can be amazing, it’s full of functions that aren’t always useful to innovation such as emotions, preconceived notions, and extraneous sensory and neurological information. TRIZ is based on data — hard facts — and their logical application. It introduces predictability into the creative process.

TRIZ outlines 40 principles you can apply to problem-solving and invention that can greatly boost your chances of success. Basic tenets include discerning problems and solutions and eradicating contradictions.

Innovation Type 2: Building a Culture of Innovation

Most everyone has had the experience of working in an office where the higher-ups claim they welcome and encourage new ideas, but when they get them, they either shoot them down without even looking at them or steal them and use them as their own. 

The above scenario is on the toxic end of the spectrum. However, many other companies honestly want ideas and aren’t even aware of how they inadvertently thwart them all. 

So much can go wrong with group dynamics. Your workers may suffer from low morale or issues with an intangible pecking order. Every meeting might drag on for hours as management makes an effort to allow everyone’s ideas to be heard.

Building a culture of innovation isn’t a series of specific steps, the way TRIZ is. There is no one correct way to achieve innovation in a company. What works for one may not work for another. Each company must evaluate its corporate culture before mapping out its plan for success.

The word innovation written on a wall along with illustrations of people, charts and graphs.
Brainstorming can work, but you need rules.

Innovation Type 3: Effective Brainstorming

The key word here is effective. Too often, team members gather around a conference table and trumpet ideas in a stream-of-consciousness fashion that results in little useful information. defines brainstorming as a “group discussion to produce ideas or solve problems.” But it’s so much more complex than that. 

When there are no rules to brainstorming, your employees can end up falling down the rabbit hole, getting bogged down with too many suggestions, feeling like they must give weight to each one, wasting time trying to build on the ones that won’t work, overthinking, and getting stuck. 

IdeaScale & Innovation

These are just three snippets of the 15 types of innovation Skillicorn outlines. The infographic delivers concise descriptions and concrete examples to get you thinking about how to make changes at your company. 

IdeaScale loves to bring you new ideas in new formats. Download the infographic, then get our Innovation Starter Kit.

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