Radical Innovation: a designer's drive
Being a designer, I am driven by radically different ideas. It excites me when some new product/service disrupts an entire market, and turns out to be ahead of its competitiors (Uber, Spotify and services alike). This concerns both startups and big organizations entirely reworking their services/products/strategies (remember when Xerox introduced a product-service-system?).
There is something that makes these companies so groundbreaking. As companies grow bigger, they grow towards incremental innovation instead of being radical innovators. As Mr. Chesbrough writes in "The era of open innovation", there is closed and open innovation. Closed innovation strictly focuses on internal values, and internal R&D. Open innovation keeps the boundaries of the company open; it embraces innovation from the outside (buying new startups, acquiring new talent to innovate). You see this at Apple, Google, Microsoft and many other big tech giants. Like Google acquiring Nest, Microsoft acquiring Acompli and Minecraft. For big companies with vast structures, it is a way to radically innovate, or open up to new markets.
But how about the small startups? They are operating from a purer core value, I'd say. They don't have a large number of departments or difficult bureaucracy. Next to that, they are more agile than big companies. They can change radically (or even "pivot", as it is called in the world of entrepreneurship). Like Mr. Chandy and Mr. Tellis discuss in "The Incumbent’s Curse? Incumbency, Size, and Radical Product Innovation", only the really small and really big companies are best at innovating. Small companies for their agility, (really) big companies for their massive budgets to engage into sidetracks.
Then again, what is innovation? Mr. Norman and Mr. Verganti distinguish two dimensions in “Incremental And Radical Innovation: Design Research Versus Technology And Meaning Change”: technological and meaningful innovation. These can be combined: new technologies can give new meanings to products or services. But innovation can also stick to one of them: either technological or meaningful. For me as a designer, the meaningful innovation is the most exciting. How can I change society with my concept? Is it for the good or the worse? Can I disrupt markets with new meaningful services/products like Apple did way back with iTunes and the iPod? This kind of disruption gets you ahead of the competition!
If I look at the shift is going on right now, it is that products become services, and people want to buy the value they would get, rather than the product that it contains. It calls for designers that design for the user experience, the experience people get by buying or subscribing for the values you can offer. That is currently the unique selling point that sets one service apart from the others. And if done well, it is meaningful innovation. If it different from the competition, it is radical innovation. Together, it can disrupt markets as they are. And service design as well as user experience are the key here!
We designers are able to generate wicked ideas, and turn it into radically innovatives products, services and experiences. Whether it is a small or a big company you work for, there is always a gap for radical, meaningful, disruptive innovation.