What is Incremental innovation? Is Vetter Incremental innovation software?

by Duncan

Definition of incremental innovation

In an interview with Dustin Mattison, Schneider Electric’s Joel Larner said, “Incremental innovation is taking products, solutions and technologies which you currently have today and doing some small advancement on the same technologies or solutions”.

Examples of incremental innovation - bicycles and soccer balls

Incremental innovation is all around us. The piece of technology that you are reading this on was improved and honed in a multitude of steps, incorporating research and ideas from employees and researchers over years. The humble bicycle has evolved over time with new materials (particularly in the frames) new components (no gears back in the old days), and accessories such as lights. A soccer ball (a ‘football’ to me) is another product that has evolved from the humble beginnings of a pig bladder to the light, extremely fast and a nightmare for goalkeepers, balls that we see today.

Incremental innovation v.s. radical innovation

Incremental innovation is the sensible brother of other types of innovation such as radical innovation which has produced such products as the 1st aeroplane and Dyson’s 1st vacuum cleaner. Although the latter could also fall into the incremental innovation camp seeing as Dyson did make 5127 prototypes of it before being content. As you may have guessed, radical innovation is much less widespread. This balance will not revers if management guru Tom Peters advice that businesses should only allocate 15 percent of their budget for “truly radical” ideas is followed. My feeling is that this is a good rough average but varies significantly between industries. I can’t imagine our office cleaning company allocating 15% for radical innovation, can you?

Incremental innovation v.s. continuous innovation / Kai-zen

‘Kaizen’ is the Japanese word for ‘improvement’ and is a term generally used in the West to refer to a company’s broad focus on continuous improvement, usually in manufacturing. A
suggestion scheme may help with getting continuous improvement ideas.The big difference between incremental innovation and continuous innovation is that continuous innovation is more concerned with processes rather than the actual products/services themselves. Adding machine conveyors to ‘enable a flow style of operation and synchronize the processes’ might not be employee creativity’s finest work, but it was innovations like that which led to Toyota’s rise to the position of No.1 in the car industry.

So could Vetter be used to implement an incremental innovation program?

In our admittedly biased view - Vetter’s online solution could serve as an excellent incremental innovation software or continuous innovation software tool for your company. Why not take a Trial and see?

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"We wanted an online suggestion box that's easy to run and Vetter fits the bill"

Heather Saunders; ECITB Product Dev. Platform Manager

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