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continuous innovation

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Continuous innovation is an iterative process of incorporating both modest, incremental and radical revolutionary improvements in processes, product designs, services and technologies.

Both gradual refinement of an existing product or service and significant redesigns and new products and services are enabled by continuous innovation. Continuous innovation seeks not to just fulfill expectations but also create products and services that provide only imagined functions or even entirely unexpected revolutionary changes.

Continuous improvement vs. continuous innovation

Continuous improvement, also known as Kaizen, is a cousin to continuous innovation, does enable consistent improvements and can provide a better product over time. Continuous improvement processes don’t generally produce a new solution to existing problems or even guarantee good solutions to new problems. These leaps in design require vision and creativity beyond observation and care. Enabling continuous improvement requires supporting and inspiring the creative vision of employees as well as allowing them to the take risks associated with such dramatic change – an innovation culture.

Not merely a matter of having the best services or designs available, continuous innovation enables a company to be agile and responsive to change. The changes in customer needs and the markets can sometimes not be adequately addressed by continuous improvement and will require real innovation to provide a satisfactory solution. The company used to continuous innovation will be better able to come up with new solutions to address these needs, allowing them to stand out with a unique and effective solution.

This was last updated in July 2019

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