Incremental or Breakthrough Innovations: Go +1 or x2?

incremental versus breakthrough innovation
Would you rather go +1 or x2 in your ideas and innovations? How about life? How about at work? When innovating and doing things better we have choices. Do we want a slight improvement, a +1, an incremental innovation? Or, do we want a x2, a drastic improvement? This is a breakthrough or even disruptive innovation. With the +1 approach things get slightly better. It is like a CD that now holds one more song, or is 1 inch smaller. The x2 approach is like an Ipod. It looks different and even operates different. It is a breakthrough or a disruption to the way things had been done before. It is a drastic improvement.

Perhaps you view the innovations you are working on in your life as a portfolio of ideas. You have some ideas that are +1s, they are slight improvements, are not risky, and have a good chance of success. This could be like reducing 200 calories in your diet just today by choosing a salad instead of fries. Make sure you are also working on some x2 ideas as well, those that may be drastically different, riskier, but also provide greater rewards. This could be like doing a full week detox or reboot to your body drinking only vegetable and fruit juices.

The process you take to generate and implement +1 and x2 ideas are quite different. Perhaps you are used to slight improvements but not deconstructing a challenge and reconstructing it from the ground up in a new form. These are new thinking skills to develop. Using idea generation tools like SCAMPER are helpful for +1 innovations, tools like metaphors are helpful for x2 innovations.

About The Author

Darin

Darin Eich is the author of Innovation Step-by-Step: How to Create & Develop Ideas for your Challenge and Root Down & Branch Out: Best Practices for Leadership Development Programs and has a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. Darin was also the president and co-founder of BrainReactions, InnovationTraining.org, and other startups. Darin gives speeches and can be hired to help your institution facilitate, create, and develop innovation programs, courses, retreats, and even conduct assessment or coach staff on developing leadership programs. Visit Innovation Training to see for yourself or email darin@programinnovation.com.