Continuous innovation is modest, gradational, ongoing upgrades or enhancements of existing technologies or products; continuous innovation generally does not fundamentally change the dynamics of an industry, nor does it typically require end-users to change behavior. The opposite of continuous innovation is discontinuous innovation, also known as disruptive innovation.
Continuous innovation is the other extreme where an existing product undergoes marginal changes without altering customer habits. Sometimes, the customer may not even perceive these products to be new though they may invest a lot of money to improve their existing products. For instance, a shampoo that is different from existing products only in its brand name, fragrance, color, the packaging is also a new product, though it is continuous innovation.
The continuous innovation should be above the perceptual threshold of the customer, and there should be a ‘Just Noticeable Difference’ (jnd) between the continuous innovation and the existing options for the customer to perceive this innovation as an improvement.
Dynamically continuous innovation falls between discontinuous and continuous innovation. The changes in customer habits caused by such innovation are not as large as discontinuous innovation and not as negligible as continuous innovation.
Continuous Innovation Process steps
- Focus – this step focuses on the result that is wanted. It involves developing short-term and long-term outcome-based goals.
- Explore – this step involves finding ways and necessary tools to achieve the goals that have been developed in step one.
- Select – this is the step when all options and ideas introduced in step two are considered. During this step you should select the best options.
- Design – this step involves designing the necessary action to implement the options decided upon in step three. Measures that track performance should also be implemented.
- Action – this step is about staying on track with the activities designed in step four and measuring how well it performs.
- Assess – this step involves assessing how well the action is helping achieve the goals given in the first step. Is the action working? If so, great! If not, what new action needs to be taken? Are there any unexpected problems that came up that need to be addressed?
- Create – creativity needs to be used in this step to develop even more ideas for continued improvements.
- Re-focus – in this step, we’re circling back to the beginning. It’s time to consider the result and develop new goals.