How do you define what’s innovative versus what’s really, really innovative?

During Brainzooming innovation workshops, we frequently use the poster below. It creates an interactive experience for organizing ideas. Those could be pre-existing ideas that the group already has at the event’s start or concepts that they generate while using Brainzooming exercises.




The time frames listed on the poster are clear.

Participants typically ask, though, about the three definitions related to the magnitude of innovation. I prefer to be vague about the definitions. Why is that? Because assessing innovation is in the eye of the organization that’s both imagining new concepts and on the hook to implement them.

When pressed, how do we define innovation?

One client really needed specifics for defining innovation. Yes, the participant list was full of engineers. For that client, we offered a framework describing each of the three innovation levels.

To get out of the client’s industry yet pick something that our seasoned participants would find familiar, we chose for-hire car rides to define the innovation levels. The scenarios spanned both cabs and Uber to underscore how new types of competitors can more readily advance disruptive innovation.

Here they are, with the hope that they stretch your team’s innovative thinking to bolder levels.

New and Impactful Innovation

Innovation 1 - Cabs began accepting credit cards: This innovative change made the cab UX easier, more convenient, and less cumbersome. Suddenly, there was no need to anticipate how many cab rides you’d take on a trip and what they’d cost to ensure you carried enough cash. And yes, for younger readers, there was a time that cabs were largely cash-only rides.

Innovative Growth

Innovation 2 – Cab and limo drivers began soliciting future rides: Certain cab and limo drivers would encourage and accept pick-up scheduling on the side. This helped better coordinate the UX experience and set expectations and familiarity with the UX. Through having a better sense of what you’re paying, heavy cab users would see the advantages from being able to pre-plan and eliminate uncertainty.

Disruptive Innovation

Innovation 3 – A completely different UX: We pushed workshop participants to only place ideas at this level if they represented a fundamentally new experience, as Uber created in personal transportation. Uber introduced a multi-market, branded user experience with an app interface. This new UX was easy, transparent, standard (with tiers of expectations), and ultimately anticipatory (shares driver details upfront, system learns you and professionals).

What innovation means for you is most important!

Feel free to grab a copy of this poster (let me know if you need details on how we use it). If you want to supply innovation definitions as part of the exercise, be sure to pick something outside of your own industry. Even if you want to choose something different than the personal transportation-based definition, you’ll benefit by picking something outside your industry. Mike Brown

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming email updates.

Download Disrupting Thinking