Let’s get started by talking about what you can expect from this article because it’s not a comprehensive list of all the innovation types. Just like innovation itself, this article is not complete. Instead, it focuses on the 4 most important types of innovation and highlights why they are so important for product companies.

Disruptive Innovation

Let’s take a look at the four types of innovation and how they work.

The first of these is Disruptive Innovation. Disruptive innovations introduce new products and services that serve emerging or new markets or create new ones.

An example of disruptive innovation would be Netflix in 1997: customers had an entirely new way to watch movies, via streaming through the internet. Netflix didn’t replace movie theatres, but it did replace VHS tapes, DVDs (and eventually Blockbuster), allowing customers to watch what they wanted when they wanted on their own time.

Another well-known example is Airbnb: the company created a whole new market for consumers and hosts who could rent out their homes to people looking for lodging when travelling instead of traditional hotels or hostels. Airbnb ultimately disrupted the entire hospitality industry by opening up a large market share to non-hotel companies.

Incremental innovation

The second type of innovation is incremental innovation.

This is a popular form of innovation and most companies do it at some level. It’s about continuous improvement of a product, service or process. Incremental innovation can take different forms and range from fixing a problem to adding something new. In other words, it is the process of making something better or more efficient by making small changes instead of reinventing the wheel every time. It is often used as a strategy for testing out new ideas as well as a simple way to develop a new product or service without having to invest too many resources in the early stage. This means that incremental innovations are usually cheaper and faster than radical innovations because they are usually built on existing products (or what we call “the platform”). If you have ever heard about “faster time-to-market” then chances are that this was the development strategy behind it.

Sustaining innovation

You take something that already works and makes it better, making sure not to change the core value proposition of the product. The end result is a better version of an established product.

Radical Innovation

Radical innovation is risky but offers a big reward. It is not possible to predict the results of radical innovation, although we can try our best to take advantage of it if we recognize it when it happens. Radical innovation can change the way we do things or how we think about them entirely.

The risk of radical innovation is balanced by the reward.

There are many different ways to innovate.

In general, there are four types of innovation: disruptive, incremental, sustaining, and transformational.

Disruptive innovation is when a new technology leads to the creation of a new market or value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network. An example of this type of innovation is the internet. Even though it was first invented in 1969 by the US military, it wasn’t until the 1990s that it became known as the World Wide Web. This led to a change in how people could access information. Before the internet was available on personal computers, people had to go to libraries or bookstores or ask experts for information. By making research more accessible online, though, Google created a new market and disrupted older systems of information seeking.

Incremental innovation refers to changes that improve products or services without fundamentally altering how they work or how they fit into customers’ lives. In contrast with a disruptive innovation which creates something entirely new and can lead businesses to create different strategies for selling their goods and services, incremental innovation involves modifying products over time based on customer feedback so that businesses do not have to change their strategies significantly.


As we try to figure out what innovation means for our design, we are faced with determining the best way to help our company grow. Rather than focusing on making the next new thing, think about implementing a framework that drives your innovation strategy. There are plenty of frameworks out there and some may work better than others, but the objective should be to find one that works for your organization.

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