Adjacent Innovations


If you are focused on innovation, then you should definitely be listening to the Phil McKinney, Killer Innovations podcast.  Not only does he have great ideas, but he puts so much structure around them that you are well on your way to implementation.

A few months ago Phil talked about Adjacent Innovation.  The general concept is that your business is currently operating in the bottom left quadrant of the picture above.  If you would like to grow into new products/markets, there are a number of ways that you can do that.

Phil recommends reaching in both adjacent directions from your core.  The bottom right is new products.  The top left is new markets.  New Markets can be new ways of going to your existing market or new customer segments.  Phil recommends strongly against reaching directly for the top right quadrant.

This does not mean that you cannot reach for both adjacent quadrants at the same time, you just can’t do them together.  That is a subtle difference so let me explain with an example.  A division that is responsible for new product development is working with Marketing to support the new products.  According to Phil’s guidance, Marketing should NOT use new methods or go to new markets to promote the new products.  Phil suggests that you can/should market the new products with the existing methods to the existing customers (bottom right) and at the same time start to market to new people and/or in new ways with your existing products (top left).

What this does for you is create an effort/experience that is not too foreign to your people or your market and therefore affords a much greater chance for success.  Down the line when you decide to stretch again, you will find that your core has been extended and you can reach further in the two adjacent directions effectively reaching the top right, but in two or more steps.

Future Businesses that want to be able to sell new products to new markets are going to find it close to impossible if they are not able to move effectively into both adjacent quadrants.  Keep this in mind when you are thinking about how your organization is innovating.


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