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The Poles of Innovation

Updated: Apr 29, 2022

How to maintain the balance between Radical and Incremental innovation

Understanding history is important to architects, artists, designers, filmmakers, musicians, writers, and other creators. Instead of needlessly reinventing the wheel, historical knowledge provides insight for authentic creativity and accelerates real innovation to gain a significant competitive advantage by leapfrogging over contemporaries.

Few movements survive long-term without embracing both radical and incremental innovation. Every successful artist, entrepreneur, and business needs to innovate continuously, or risk being surpassed by competition in the longer term.

Radical innovation introduces a new business model and way of doing, where its invention dismantles and surpasses an existing business model and the status quo that surrounds it. In the business continuum, it typically equates to higher risks, but can offer higher returns. It requires the ability to envision and treat failure as a step forward, not a step backward or a reason to disengage. Startups are typically biased toward radical innovation by having significantly fewer constraints than larger organizations. They can afford to take greater risks, focus on the bigger picture, have more inspirational objectives, and be willing to experiment, reimagine, and design for the new with fewer inhibitors.

Incremental innovation is small improvements made to an existing business model, product, service, or experience to achieve the desired business goal and differentiate from the competition by building on current value propositions and offerings to an existing and known market. Mature businesses tend to be biased toward innovating incrementally to maintain their existing customers' needs and grow their customer base in a risk-mitigated and tangible way. Typically characterized by narrower objectives and quantitative goals, they also take advantage of market research, focus groups, and prototyping. These large organizations focus on continuous improvement. They work toward defined milestones and rely upon internal sources of information to fill knowledge gaps.

Nothing survives long term without embracing both radical innovation and incremental innovation

Every successful individual, movement, organization, or team needs to continuously innovate, or they will be surpassed by competition in the longer term. They key is to maintain a balance between the two poles of innovation

Learn about how to manage innovation and maintain a balance between the poles of innovation.

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Roy Sharples

Founder and CEO of Unknown Origins, a creative studio on a mission to save the world from unoriginality by unleashing the power of creativity. Author of "Creativity Without Frontiers: How to make the invisible visible by lighting the way into the future."

Attitude. Imagination. Execution.

Unknown Origins. All rights reserved © copyright 2021.

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