goldfish jumping out of the water

In the innovation academic discipline ideas are often separated into two kinds.   They go by different names.  In Innovation Engineering we use descriptive terms calling the disruptive ideas “leap innovations” and the incremental ideas “core innovations.”

Research finds that for a balanced portfolio 85% of projects should be core innovations and 15% leap.  However, it also notes that 50% of profit growth comes from leap innovations.

Recently I’ve been reading Thomas Kuhn’s classic book  The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.  In the book he makes the point (my words not his) – that most “core” innovations are driven by the step changes caused by “leap” innovations.  From the book…

Few people whoa re not actually practitioners of mature science realize how much mop-up work of this sort a paradigm (leap) leaves to be done….Mopping-up operations (core) are what engage most scientists throughout their careers.  They constitute what I am here calling normal science.   

No part of the aim of normal science is to call forth new sorts of phenomena; indeed those that will not fit the box are often not seen at all.  Nor do scientists normally aim to invent new theories, and they are often intolerant of those invented by others.  Instead, normal-scientific research is directed to the articulation of those phenomena and theories that the paradigm already supplies.

What this means is that leap innovations are the driver of not only 50% of profit growth – they are also responsible for much of the core innovations that follow.  These innovations are in new varieties, efficiencies, packagings, upgrades, etc.

When I read this last night – I suddenly understood why even a few LEAP innovations cause such a chain reaction of change to a culture.  They stretch our thinking on what is possible.  And, frankly they create a pile of core innovation opportunities.

Sadly, since 2008 – companies have downsized their R&D efforts, accelerated cost savings and focused on thinking small when it comes to innovation.  The result is a chain reaction of negativity in most corporations.  This negativity is easy to see in our culture surveys.

Fortunately their are leaders who are ready to change.  Over the past 12 months the message I hear from these leaders is a variation of  “Please help us….we need to learn how to win again.”    The good news is it’s not too late to restart the spirit of innovation that created most organizations.   Over and over again we are finding that with the Innovation Engineering “System Driven Innovation” approach that in 6 to 12 months the spark can be reignited.    With each client we are validating Dr. Deming’s finding that “94% of the problem is the system – 6% the employees”

If you want to learn more about how System Driven Innovation can enable LEAP innovations call the Eureka! Ranch at 513 271 9911.  We have an Innovation College set for the week of March 7 where you can immerse yourself in 4 college courses over 5 days.

Cheers – to the innovators, the bold, the brave – you are the ones who set of the chain reaction of innovations in the world.

Doug