In my previous blog I discussed about networks and how they are crucial for innovation management; today I’d like to discuss about pyramids.
Pyramids have been built by civilizations in different parts of the world and charmed not only scholars, but also by many common people for centuries.
Yet pyramids are not only mighty monumental structures: they are also a way of thinking. What does pyramidal thinking mean? It means to look at complex systems at different levels of abstraction and according to different interconnected layers that conceptually build on each other.
Applying pyramidal thinking to a business context, you get the so called business pyramid:a business can be represented in term of vision, mission, strategy, business model, solution portfolio, organization and processes, technology and competencies.
Each layer of the business pyramid constitutes a scope and context for innovation. For example, incremental solution innovation for automotive delineates requirements on assisted-driving and guides the company’s technology innovation, for example in the area of night vision systems.
What is the conceptual consequence for innovation management?
Each layer directly influences the scope and focus of incremental innovationand indirectly influences the scope and focus of incremental innovation for the levels below.
For example, the need for improving a feature of an existing solution (product and/or service) influences the scope of the underlying technology innovation activities.
On the other hand breakthrough innovationderives from an unconstrained, open exploration, a deep understanding of needs and problem re-framing that have the potential to have feedback mechanism towards the upper layers and ultimately change them.
For example, a profound process innovation can challenge and even ultimately change the company’s business model.
What is the practical consequence for innovation management? You can design innovation along the business pyramid:
Consider all types of innovation along the pyramid – each layer is a possible innovation scope and focus area.
For each layer (i.e. type of innovation) consider the current situation in your company – it represents the context of your innovation activities.
Think through the implications of the other layers of the business pyramid on the layer you are considering - e.g. implications of process innovation for business models, or implications of technology innovation for products and services innovation, etc.