Dynamic Innovation Explained

  • This page should explain that "Dynamic Innovation" consists of understanding three core ideas: (1) what Purposeful Innovation is, (2) what Emergent Innovation is, and (3) that there can be dynamic iteration between these two models of innovation. 
  • Figure 1 should be used to highlight point (3) from above, and therefore I think it should be the last thing on the page.
  • This page should end with a link at the bottom of the page for "Why Dynamic Innovation?" or "Why is this important?"
  • As a result, I also think that this "Dynamic Innovation" should be the first tab at the top of the homepage. the "Why" tab should come second.
Dynamic Innovation is a powerful new framework that helps people understand how to navigate through the immense uncertainty of developing breakthrough innovations by pursuing two different paths of innovation that we call Purposeful Innovation and Emergent Innovation.
Purposeful innovation refers to a process that is typically already used in most organizations, in which people first spend a lot of time and energy creating a well-defined problem for an innovation to solve, and then subsequently spend a lot of financial and material resources to develop a viable solution to the problem. For example, many breakthrough innovations such as the commercial light bulb and autonomous vehicles have been developed through this process.

Emergent innovation refers to a completely inverted process, in which people first spend a small amount of time and energy developing an initial idea or prototype for an innovation, and then subsequently explore that idea or prototype in the context of an industry until a specific problem and solution emerge together. This process has been used to develop breakthrough innovations such as Penicillin, the Post-It Note, and the Nintendo Wii, but it has not yet been formalized and implemented in organizations more broadly.

While both Purposeful and Emergent Innovation are viable paths for developing breakthrough innovations, they require a completely different set of thinking styles, collaboration dynamics, and leadership skills to be effective. The framework of Dynamic Innovation shows how people can use Purposeful Innovation, Emergent Innovation, or a dynamic shift between them to succeed, which depends on the environmental conditions they face. As shown in the following figure, Purposeful Innovation thrives when people are working on a highly constrained problem and have relatively unconstrained resources to develop a solution. Alternatively, Emergent Innovation thrives when people are working with highly constrained resources and have a relatively unconstrained problem to explore their ideas. If people find themselves working with too much—or too little—constraint, they will be operating in innovation dead zones and are likely to fail at developing a breakthrough innovation.