Business leaders agree — innovation is important, but it’s difficult to define. Vague definitions like “the process of innovating” or “making changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products” don’t clear anything up.
At PLM Group, we define innovation as: “executing an idea that addresses a specific challenge and achieves value for both the company and the customer.” There are many ways in which we make you innovate, but to get there we must first look at the different types of innovation to understand that it is more than just creating a new product.
How we innovate is as important than what we innovate. And how starts with people. With the right team, nothing is impossible. Brilliant innovations are born when people work together. Innovation stems from you and the innovative culture you create within your organization. It is the values, behaviors, and actions of your people that fuel innovation. Innovation is ready to happen within your organization, all you have to do is encourage and enable your employees to unleash it. It is not enough to buy new software or platform and hope that it will increase creativity, efficiency, and collaboration.
Innovation management – create a culture of innovation
While structure can help bring expected results, it’s important to remember that the path to innovation is not straightforward.
A typical innovation management model starts with people, culture, and organization, which leads to ideas, selection, and implementation, and finally your innovation strategy. All those aspects are crucial to foster innovation, but the process will look anything but organized.
The Team Dimensional Profile (TDP) aims to explain this organized chaos. It starts with people and focuses on their roles and strengths. As a leader, you can use it to ensure that people are doing what they like and are good at in an organized environment. In turn, they’ll innovate products, services, and processes across the organization.
TDP recognizes four different approaches to work:
- Conceptual – work with new ideas and their alternatives
- Spontaneous – build unexpected connections and breakdown boundaries
- Normative – connect ideas to practice
- Methodical – document and organize
Between these approaches people tend to fall into roles, or categories, that correspond to their working styles.
Five Roles in the Team Dimension Profile explained
A Creator looks for non-traditional ideas to develop. They are not afraid of making mistakes or failure. Creators are rarely restricted by rules.
An Advancer acknowledges new ideas and alternatives, but can also develop existing ideas. They like to plan thoroughly and draw on past experience. Thinking and acting beyond the confinement of rules is normal for them.
A Refiner questions ideas. They analyze and use methodical methods to look for mistakes and shortcomings. They are good at reevaluating ideas and finding alternatives. Successful outcomes are always the aim.
An Executor follows up on the team’s goals and visions, implements mutual ideas and solutions, and is thorough in their planning. They strive for quality and precision, letting others control the team’s work. They are satisfied when the end result is consistent with the original idea.
A Facilitator sits in the middle of all four approaches. They focus on the contribution and development of all of the team members. They follow the whole innovation process from start to finish directing and supporting cooperation within the team. They ensure that everyone is working together by coordinating and balancing the team.
Chances are, you already have these types of thinkers within your organization. Your role as a manager is to empower these personalities by enabling collaborative approaches through digitalization. A simple way to encourage your team members with various skill sets and role types to collaborate is by creating points of interaction. For example, the 3DExperience platform enables all teams to contribute to projects — giving that “procurement Advancer” a chance to work alongside the “design team Creator”. When the various role types on your team are able to collaborate seamlessly, your organization will innovate in all areas.
The ten types of innovation
Once your organization leverages collaboration through digitalization your talented team members will be able to combine their strengths and work styles to focus on innovation.
Again, innovation isn’t a single — or single — process. It can take place across the organization and its functions. Doblin’s Ten Types of Innovation offers a framework for innovation. It’s not just about the new products you create; that is only one way to innovate. This framework shows you how to identify new opportunities and transform existing business models into profitable and sustainable ones.
The types of innovation are separated into three subcategories: configuration, offering, and experience. Configuration types are mostly internally focused and not customer-facing. Offering and experience categories are partially or entirely customer-facing.
- Profit Model – How do you make money?
All too often, profit models can go unquestioned for decades. Innovative profit models challenge the status quo of what the industry sells, how much it charges, or how revenue is collected. By implementing innovative profit models, you can turn your offerings into profit. It shows that you know what your customers actually want and where new revenue opportunities may be found.
- Structure – How do you organize and align talent and assets?
The innovative structure organizes your company’s assets in new ways. These can be hard, human, or intangible — how you manage your talent or how you disrupt your company’s fixed costs in departments like HR, R&D, and IT. This, in turn, will help you attract and retain new talent by creating a highly productive work environment where new ideas are welcomed and creativity is encouraged (a breeding ground for innovation).
- Network – How do you connect with others to create value?
It’s impossible to do everything on your own, nor should you need to. Network innovations look at how to take advantage of the processes, offerings, technologies, channels, and brands of other companies. This way you focus on what your company is good at and entrust the rest to others with those strengths. There are infinite possibilities for collaborations with close business partners or even your competition.
- Process – How do you use a signature or superior method to do your work?
Process innovation looks at how your primary offerings are created. Innovating here means a drastic overhaul of your margins, increasing efficiency, and adapting quickly to change. These new processes could potentially become proprietary and give you an advantage over your competitors in the future. It’s your trademark way of making your product that your competitors can’t replicate.
- Product Performance – How do you develop distinguishing features and functionality?
Too often people believe that product performance is what innovation is about. It’s an important part, but remember there are nine other types of innovation.
Innovative product performance addresses the value, features, and quality of your offerings. These can be completely new products or updates to existing products that add value. Product performance is about delivering a long-term competitive advantage, rather than simply replicating a slightly better version of a product your competitors are making.
- Product System – How do you create complementary products and services?
Product system innovations look at how individual products and services are connected. It looks at ways of creating valuable connections between very different offerings. These innovations then help you build an environment that engages your customers and separates you from competitors.
- Service – How do you support and amplify the value of your offerings?
Service innovations enhance the use, performance, and value of your products and services. It makes products and services easier to try, use and enjoy, and fixes bugs to ease the customer experience. If you succeed here, you’ll engage your customers in a way that will have them returning for more.
- Brand – How do you represent your offerings and business?
How do you want your brand to be known and remembered? Ultimately your brand influences your customers to choose you over your competitors. Brands often make a promise to attract customers, which is implemented through communication, marketing, and service interactions. When done right, brand innovations can turn your product or service into something prized. Brand innovation sets you apart.
- Channel – How do you deliver your offerings to customers and users?
Channel innovations help you connect with your customers. e-Commerce is a good example of this, but physical stores still play an important role in how we interact with our customers. Innovative solutions use multiple yet complementary methods in bringing their products to customers. You want to ensure that your customers can buy what they want — conveniently and affordably.
- Customer Engagement – How do you foster compelling interactions?
Customer engagement is all about understanding customers and using these insights to foster a meaningful connection between your brand and them. This could be process automation, creating a sense of community or belonging, or humanizing your brand through a consistent voice.
External innovation is the development of product and service offers. It’s also how customers interact with your company and its products.
Internal innovation is the organizational structure, internal processes, and how the company makes money. It’s the innovation that enables external changes to take place.
Innovation through digitalization
The ten types of innovation could effectively reimagine your company. You can look at how innovation is being approached internally, you can use it to analyze your competition, or use it to help you find gaps and new opportunities for trying something completely new. At PLM, we look at innovation through the lens of digitalization and sustainability to build successful and lasting businesses.
We help our clients connect people, ideas, product data, and solutions into a single and collaborative environment through 3DExperience, a SaaS-based product innovation platform. It empowers everyone involved in an innovative project to easily imagine, design, simulate, and deliver a superior customer experience. Increased collaboration, improved execution, and accelerated innovation help manufacturing companies grow and become more profitable.
Our digital product development solutions are the ultimate customizable toolbox that will make your rethink the entire development process. Product development is not only about creating a product your customers want, with collaboration and efficiency it gets products to market faster.
Additive manufacturing allows you to create entirely new products while reducing the lead times and costs throughout the entire value chain. You can leverage additive manufacturing to find new business opportunities and lower your production costs.
Innovation starts with you (and your people)
Your people will lead you to innovate. In every part of your organization, you already have creators, advancers, refiners, executors, and facilitators. It’s up to you to ensure they are in their ideal roles and that you provide the right environment for fostering innovation.
Innovation will happen in your organization with an environment where employees share their ideas, build on them together, and get to test for results. It’s through collaboration and experimentation that new ideas and new approaches are born. By providing the right tools through our 3D Ecosystem — product development solutions, additive manufacturing, and our digital innovation platform 3DEXPERIENCE — manufacturing companies can transform existing business models into sustainable ones.
Flush your old tech and get onboard with a sustainable workflows. PLM Group provides you with the tools, knowledge, and inspiration to discover possibilities beyond your imagination. Simply put: We make you innovate.
Get in touch to learn how you can put your company on the path to innovation.