Three’s a company – and a charm for innovation

What does innovation mean to you? What does it mean to your business? Don’t worry, this isn’t a test – there are no right or wrong answers. There is a good chance that you believe the answers to those questions need to be something that nobody has ever thought of or tried (and, in some cases, failed at before). But if you read our recent post about innovation for retail and ecommerce for an uncertain future, you’ll know that the answer is much simpler.

We mentioned that Doblin, an innovation-focused firm, spent years analyzing and researching businesses and discovered that innovation can be broken down into ten main silos. Through the coming weeks, we will be exploring each of those in further detail, but before we get there, we’re going to split the ten into three further categories – because that is how you eat an elephant, one bite at a time.

Innovation doesn’t have to mean a new invention. It should just be new to you. It does not even have to be a physical product, it can take on any form – even the stuff your customers might not ever see.

One of the examples we noted in the first article on the subject – Google’s allowance for its employees working on a side hustle leading to the invention of Gmail and Google News – is a prime example of innovation borne out of something that did not directly affect the consumer. Yet the invention itself has gone on to fundamentally change not only Google’s product offering (and profit), but enhance the customer experience, too.

Three innovative buckets

Let’s start off with a quick recap on what the ten silos for innovation are.

Doblin’s ten types of innovation 

  1. Profit Model
  2. Network
  3. Structure
  4. Process
  5. Product Performance
  6. Product System
  7. Service
  8. Channel
  9. Brand
  10. Customer Engagement

The definitions of each of these vary and how innovation will apply to each of them will differ greatly depending on your business and industry. But at the core of these ideas are three fundamentals that will be applicable to all business and if you feel like a psychology 101 – to how we live our lives in general.

Most innovations will combine elements from the three main categories – but when companies go all Power Ranger and powers combine – the resulting innovations tend to be explosive.

Here’s how the ten types of innovation are further broken down.

three parents of innovation


  • Profit Model
  • Network
  • Structure
  • Process 


  • Product Performance
  • Product System



  • Service
  • Channel
  • Brand
  • Customer Engagement


Practical application for retail, life and ecommerce

These three parent categories might seem somewhat simplistic (after all: elephants are big things to eat). 

Configuration is at the core of everything we do. It is how we set up our days, our companies, our marketing strategies, and everything else in between. It also refers to the structure for employees - something which was central to the Gmail invention. 

Offering is what you bring to the table, but you need to know who is sitting at that table. A roast chicken dinner won't go down well with a group of vegans. Just like an elevator pitch is less likely to land if you haven't crunched the numbers or done the marketing research. 

Experience is the final catchall for all the other bits and pieces. If your business is in ecommerce or retail, it might be one of the most important aspects for your innovation considerations – especially during these unpredictable and fluid times. For restaurants and online grocery stores, this might mean innovating in how products are delivered. All over the world, restaurants have had to adapt to lockdown restrictions with some conjuring up inventive ideas like sending a cook-your-own meal kit with ingredients of their best selling menu items.

Many of the innovations we’ll see in the wake of the pandemic would have eventually seen the light of day – they have just been given the impetus to accelerate because of the need to respond to a crisis.

But there will also be innovations that entrepreneurs will wonder why they’d never considered before – the meal kits from fine dining restaurants being a case in point.

Lesson? Innovation can be found in the most unlikely places. Knowing some of its most popular hiding spots might help you unlock them.

Wanna unlock your transformation potential? Let’s chat here.


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