Adapted from Radical Innovation, Harvard Business School





Radical  >>>


Cost or feature improvements in existing products, services, or processes

Development of new businesses, products and/or processes that transform the economies of a business

New Product Development: 10 Best Practices


Exploitation of existing technology

Exploration of new technology



Difficult  >>>


Ironing out wrinkles near the end of the design phase

Teaching the market about the new technology and learning from the markets how valuable that technology is in that application arena


Linear and continuous

Sporadic and discontinuous  >>>

Business Case

Detailed plan can be developed at the beginning of the process

Business model and plan evolves through discovery-based market learning

Idea Generation & Opportunity Recognition

Occur at the front end; critical events are largely anticipated

Occur sporadically throughout the life cycle, often in response to discontinuities in the project trajectory

Systemic Innovation: 7 Areas

Key Players

Formal cross-functional teams

Cross-functional individuals, informal networks


Formal, phase-gate model

Informal, flexible model at early stages due to high uncertainties formal at later stages after uncertainties have been reduced

Organizational Structures

Cross-functional project team operates within a business unit

Project starts in R&D migrates into an incubating organization → transitions into a goal-driven project organization

Resources and competencies

Standard resource allocation; the team has all competencies required to complete the process

Creative acquisition of competencies and resources from a variety of internal and external sources  >>>

Operating Unit Involvement

Formal involvement from the very beginning

Informal at early stages  formal at later stages