Your White Space for Innovation

Do you know where to look for innovation opportunities in the AEC business?  The Ten Types of Innovation® by Doblin is a great tool for identifying opportunities and testing concepts.

Quoting from www.doblin.com:

“Initially developed in 1998, the Ten Types of Innovation showed that companies that integrate multiple types of innovation will develop offerings that are more difficult to copy and that generate higher returns.

The Ten Types rapidly became a key tool for innovators everywhere—used by entrepreneurs at startups and by industry leaders across the globe.

In 2011, we updated the framework to reflect how business and the world have evolved in the last 15 years. With all-new analysis, data and insights, one thing hasn’t changed: the Ten Types of Innovation framework still provides a great way to identify new opportunities and develop defensible innovations.”

The framework consist of 10 opportunity areas in three domains. I included some examples of opportunities as inspiration:

1. Configuration

  • Profit Model –The way in which you make money. Consider a “freemium” model to make money. Offer a possibility to lease when others require buying.
  • Network –Connections with others to create value. Work with renowned external designers or specialists to differentiate yourself. Partner up to create a virtual company.
  • Structure –Alignment of your talent and assets. Create a “fire brigade” or “SWAT team” unit of specialtists for unexpected tasks that require rapid response.
  • Process –Signature or superior methods for doing your work. Eliminate material and process waste by using lean methods. Offer a turn key process.

2. Offering

  • Product Performance –Distinguishing features and functionality. Offer mass-produced apartments that can be customized online, at a reasonable price.
  • Product System –Complementary products and services. Provide homeowners a detailed checkup report to help them maintain their home’s value.

3. Experience

  • Service –Support and enhancements that surround your offerings. Deliver WOW experiences through service.
  • Channel – How your offerings are delivered to customers and users. Let real estate agents sell your home improvement services. Create a customer club for homeowners that live in homes that your company built.
  • Brand –Representation of your offerings and business. Extend your brand from physical products to information products.
  • Customer Engagement –Distinctive interactions you foster. Use social media for open innovation.

Evaluate how active the competition is in each of the 10 areas on a scale of Minimal/None to Non-stop activity. Where there’s little or no activity, there is opportunity. I devised a quick example just to visualize the principle (see the illustration). The white space is clearly visible.

innovation white space

Of course, all opportunities are not equal. Ogilvie and Ezell suggested that you ask the following questions:

  • Is it feasible? – Technical domain
  • Is it desirable? – Customer domain
  • Is it profitable? – Financial domain

You are probably onto something when you can answer ‘yes’ to all of the three questions.

Photo: iStockphoto, Illustration: Aarni Heiskanen