Discover more from Run the Business
Types of Product Innovation
I've been thinking about the different ways products are invented, and so far I've enumerated these different "invention categories" that are the foundation for something new...what am I missing?
1/ technology...obvious...many products are the result of new tech
2/ workflow...re-imagining a workflow to be simpler is common
3/ financial...this is a new one for me, but some products involve introducing new forms of payments / transactions whereby the innovator takes a cut
4/ logistical...some products are built on the back of improvements to physical distribution...think Uber rideshare fleet or Amazon fulfillment centers
5/ models...not sure this is a category but some products are the result of a new abstraction / framework...for example a navigation map or a game controller...before these things navigating the physical / virtual world was trial and error or just impossible
6/ brand...many companies are built on mimetic desire and people buy their products to be associated with the brand...this is a type of innovation but it's unclear (other than great / timeless / long-term marketing) how this happens
7/ behavioral...I'm still mulling over whether this is a category or a side product...for example Instagram makes it normal to share selfies or Kindle convinces you to buy tons of books...user behavior changes...but is this just because of technology or is there a complementary UX innovation as well?
8/ network...sometimes a product unlocks a type of collaboration or exchange that was previously not possible...marketplaces are a great example (from the old world bazaar to web examples like eBay or Craigslist)
9/ community...many products benefit from building mindshare with their userbase...for example IKEA hacking as a subculture generates business for IKEA ultimately
10/ communication...this might be a subcategory of technology but things like cell phones or video conference or even email are foundational product inventions
11/ multi-category...there might be inventions that arise from the intersection of other mini innovations...like the Internet is a cross between communication, technology, and network inventions
12/ complementary...some inventions require parallel innovation...MP3s as a music format and portable music players like the iPod have a symbiotic relationship
As always, I’d also love to hear from readers about their approaches to product innovation - please chime in via comments👇 or join the chat via the Substack app.
And if you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing.
further reading / references
I didn’t find much writing along these lines online, but this post on Doblin’s Ten Types of Innovation caught my eye because it also tries to disentangle the idea that inventions have multiple dimensions that intersect
childish drawing / interpretation