The ten types of innovation were established by Doblin, an innovation consultancy firm founded in 1971, by Larry Keeley and Jay DoblinThe company is now part of Deloitte and is managed by Larry Keeley, the global thought leader for innovation effectiveness.

Larry Kelley and his team studied innovation as science for nearly four decades. They analysed more than 2000 successful companies, including IBM, Amazon and Ford Model T to determine patterns of innovative moves within successful companies but also how innovation fails. The first thing they noticed was that innovative efforts fail because of a lack of discipline, not creativity. Innovation has to be treated with the same rigour we treat for example neurosurgery.

The book “Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs” explores these patterns of innovative moves to identify opportunities within organisations and to evaluate how companies are performing against competitors. In the book, we find ways to fix what causes innovation failures, how to find the right level of research for a topic, and how to de-risk even the most complicated parts of innovation.

How do we build breakthroughs?  

We create products that have a fantastic design and an elegant technology that people want in their lives and a fair business model people think serves them well. This process has to be continuously rethought and reinvented. The three categories of innovation are Configuration, Offering and Experience.



Configuration is related to the profit model, business structure and the process. This is considered the core of the business and the backend of the innovation process. Four types of innovation are listed in this section.

Profit model

This is the way your company makes money, the central focus of your business model. A good example is Airbnb that disrupted the hospitality industry by creating a platform that connects hosts with people looking for accommodation, offering unlimited choice, for every budget, all over the world. They earn a fee from every booking even though they don’t own any rooms.  


Connect with people from the industry, artists, influencers that can make your business stand out, people you can learn from, access their technology and resources. It is imperative in today’s world to practice effective networking. Open innovation is an excellent example of productive networking. Companies adopt a start-up to use their cutting-edge ideas and technology to develop innovative products, test and launch better products faster. In this type of alliance, both parties share the risks and eventual awards and recognition for the innovation they bring to the market.


This category is referring to the tangible and intangible assets that are going to generate profit and create a network. Intrapreneurship is an example of this. An intrapreneur takes risks and drives innovation within a business to better serve the marketplace with superior goods and services.


Process innovation means creating methods that will make your company stand out from the competitors. From a Mckinsey study, we find out that fast fashion companies like Inditex or H&M that have dramatically shortened the production time, from sketch to final product, innovate the fashion industry with the diversity and abundance of choice offered to customers. Zara offers 24 new clothing collections each year; H&M offers 12 to 16 and changes them weekly.


This category of innovation is focused on the products and services offerings.

Product Performance

Innovation that focuses on product features and the value offered to customers. Apple is a great example of innovation when it comes to features, functionality, and design. They charge a premium price, but the products and their universal design have had a loyal following since launch.

Product Systems

A powerful way to innovate is to create complementary systems around the main product offering to reinforce your position on the market and increase brand awareness. Nike expanded the product offering with apps and instruments that increase brand exposure. The Nike Connect app is a combination of innovative digital technology and fashion that connects fans with exclusive offers and events. It also helps NBA fans to get access to tickets and Apple music playlists from the athletes themselves.


How do you innovate user experience and how do you create a great customer-product interaction?


Create an innovative customer experience first of all by understanding client needs. Use these insights to make the overall interaction with your product or service a rewarding one. As mentioned in a previous article, excellent customer service will act as a standalone advertisement for the company.

Burberry has introduced a way of selling products directly from the catwalk online while the presentation of the new collecting is still streaming. Product customization is also possible.


Deliver the product or service to the customer in an innovative way. By using a subscription-based model, Sisley created a personalised beauty box of makeup, haircare, and skincare products delivered directly to customers monthly.


Your brand is one of your most valuable possessions. It is a set of value, beliefs, characteristics. It is how your product is perceived by outsiders. Apple maintains a leading position because it has a strong brand identity and clearly defined values that people identify with.

Customer engagement

Understand your customer’s aspirations, gather consumer insights and use them to create meaningful experiences. Wii is an excellent example of how to foster great user interaction.

Doblin’s ten types of innovation framework highlights areas where you can innovate to stand out from the competition. You just have come up with innovative ideas that are easy to implement and difficult to copy.

Check out the map with the ten types of innovation on Doblin’s site. They’ve also created a free app that will help you generate and evaluate ideas.