Innovation has a revolutionary reputation, but an evolutionary reality!
An innovation is (simply) something new and better. [New: didn't exist before in this market space. Better: desirable benefits, a lower price, or both ... compared to the available alternatives.] That's not to imply that the innovation process is simple, by no means! It can be quite complex, even if the final result doesn't necessarily reflect such.
Some types of innovation are pretty simple, pretty straight-forward. A new hot dog stand on a corner can be an example of "positioning" innovation ... simple, yet it does provide something new and better.
Other innovations are indeed quite complex and required high levels of intellect, resources, skills, education, and expertise.
Here are some general categories of innovation:
1. Incremental … basic design concepts are reinforced, linkages between modules are unchanged
2. Component or modular … basic design concepts are overturned, linkages between modules are unchanged
3. Architectural … linkages between modules are changed, basic design concepts are reinforced
4. Radical … basic design concepts are overturned, linkages between modules are changed
5. Disruptive ... technological discontinuity
6. Application ... technology application creates new market ... killer application
7. Product ... improved performance, dominant design
8. Process ... more efficient and/or effective processes
9. Positioning ... establishing a venture in a new space
10. Experiential ... improved customer experience
11. Marketing ... improved marketing relationships
12. Business model ... reframe the value proposition or value chain
13. Structural ... responds to structural changes in the industry
14. Service … give the same products but with much better service
15. Paradigm ... good luck! If we want a paradigm shift, we'll need a solid combination of several simpler innovations!