It is essential to define breakthrough innovation with precise terminology. There are mainly two criteria to discuss: discontinuity and value. When we talk about discontinuity, the breakthrough is determined by the principles of technology, science, economics, design, and many other knowledge domains. They establish a new approach to future innovation by altering what is possible. However, it is also essential to understand that not all breakthroughs can be considered purely technical or scientific. For example, the search engine invention of Google was a technological breakthrough. Still, the cost-per-click model of the company created a new business model that upended the advertising industry economics.
On the other side, if we talk about value, breakthroughs create new sources of value by simply solving fundamental problems or creating rising demands for a previously unknown niche. For instance, at some stage, digital cameras killed the business of film photography. But at present, a massive range of photos are taken digitally, and the count is much higher than ever observed with film. Moreover, digital images have led a storm on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook while creating outstanding economic value.
With innovation, it is common to see a generation of variance. People must look into new ways to seek further understanding and do new things. However, in most cases, innovation restricts their thinking to some refinement and tweaks of ideas that are expected to work. For example, the thought of making cars less damaging to the environment and more fuel-efficient led to several engine design improvements over the years. Manufacturers added many innovative systems, such as turbochargers and electronic controls, to make vehicles more advanced, lighter, and efficient. All such improvements in vehicle design were a part of the internal combustion engine in the beginning.
Breakthrough innovation needs contemplation of available options beyond current design, technological, scientific, and economic horizons. For example, with time, lithium-ion batteries became a highly efficient solution for vehicle manufacturers. All this happened just because of the advancements in the portable electronics business, making electric vehicles one of the most popular choices for buyers worldwide. However, such changes in market trends do not appear suddenly. Instead, they are derived from cognitive biases, adherence to dogma, misaligned incentives, and many other forces that can hinder speculations—the design processes must be improved to overcome these barriers.
Innovation teams often need to work on a hypothesis but experience much pressure to validate it. Experts at Global Investment Strategies recommend developing a reliable approach with a problem-driven strategy. At the same time, the hypothesis needs to have an amorphous vision. Moreover, at every step, they need to handle the pressure of various resources while doing detailed experimentation on every aspect. Emergent discoveries can benefit the industry but are usually expensive and risky. However, leaders who follow a trustworthy approach to managing and designing these strategies can ensure enhanced efficiency.