Sustainable Growth:

Innovation System

Innovation Process

Traditional and New Approaches

Vadim Kotelnikov personal logo Vadim Kotelnikov

Founder, Ten3 Business e-Coach Inspiration and Innovation unlimited!





One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man."  – Elber Hubbard

More Innovation Process Quotes



29 Obstacles To Innovation

  • Inelegant systems and processes

  • Risk aversion... More

Freedom To Fail


10 Commandments of Innovation

Innovation Practice Tips


  • Break rules and "fail forward" so that change is part of the culture, and little setback is experienced... More

The JAZZ of INNOVATION (Ten3 Mini-course)

  • Low gatekeeper knowledge leads to poor judgments

  • Slow and serial

  • Concept frozen too early

  • Focused on gates, not the customer

  • Long review preparation time

  • Narrow criteria

  • Maturity focus versus learning focus.

Effective Innovation Process

7 Lessons from Silicon Valley Firms

  1. Seed new knowledge about innovation, including reinventing the innovation process itself...  More

3 Strategies of Market Leaders


10 Ways To Murder Creativity

  1. Ask for a 200-page document to justify every new idea... More

The Nature of Innovation

Rapid innovation requires an effective innovation process. "The process of innovation is a rhythm of search and selection, exploration and synthesis, cycles of divergent thinking followed by convergence".3

Holistic Approach

Innovation is the key driver of competitive advantage, growth, and profitability.

There are many parts of the whole field of innovation: strategy innovation, new product development, creative approaches to problem solving, idea management, suggestion systems, etc. All of these components are important. "Yet approaching them piecemeal will bring piecemeal results... These seemingly disparate issues must be integrated into a single overarching strategy if they are to be mobilized in the quest for growth."6 In this new era of systemic innovation, you must design your firm's innovation process holistically.

The Traditional Phase-Gate Model

Born in heavy manufacturing, the phase-gate approach is the oldest and by far the most common innovation paradigm in the world. It breaks innovation into a series of sequential phases, with gates that must be cleared before you can proceed to the next phase. Ideally, the criteria for passing through each gate and the person (“gatekeeper”) who decides whether the criteria have been met are clearly defined beforehand. The project progressively gains maturity, which is tested at each gate until completion. The gates provide a clear and distinct mechanism to ask and answer the question, should we continue? Driven by the need to reduce the risk of change when ordering expensive tools with long lead times, the phase-gate model’s hallmark is an early “design freeze” that creates a stable target for the reminder of the innovation process

The traditional phase-gate model has many weaknesses

and works well only when:

  • the time required to innovate is shorter than the rate of change in the business environment

  • the quality, reliability, and safety requirements are critical

  • a company has never had a defined innovation process and can use the phase-gate paradigm as a good first step to stabilize innovation before trying to speed it up.

The Jazz of Innovation

The improvisation-driven model for innovation project management doesn’t discard structure, just as there is a clear structure to good jazz.

In innovation, this structure is created through roadmaps, guiding principles, business processes, systems and organizational charts. Strategic-planning and road-mapping processes cannot guarantee brilliant flashes of creative insight, but they can prepare minds and increase the odds that such flashes occur in real time. Thus structure, as chords do in jazz, serves as a basis for improvisation, experimentations, discoveries and innovation... More

The Jazz of Innovation: 11 Practice Tips

Noble Failure

Publicly Defined  Innovation Process

In any socio-technical system the people in the system work better when they understand how they fit into the system as a whole. Road-mapping provides strategic aligning, a common language for innovation, and builds bridges between technologists and business managers within your corporation, and with your major suppliers and customers.

"When a firm lacks a publicly defined innovation process, everyone operates based on their own past experience and assumptions. Because these are likely to be different, task timing, deliverables, and interfaces won't match up."1

In successful medium and large companies, the innovation process is documented explicitly via maps and charts, and implicitly communicated by words and practice. In young companies, the innovation process is often a part of the firm's tacit knowledge base, and therefore it is invisible. To grow substantially, though, young firms must eventually make the core element of their innovation process explicit.

Radical vs Incremental Innovation

Incremental innovation projects, due to low levels of uncertainties, are usually follow the orderly phase-gate process.

Radical innovation projects, due to high levels of uncertainties, use the flexible model. "Even though the radical innovation life cycle includes many of the same sets of activities and decision points, the reality of managing the process is strikingly different for radical versus incremental innovation.2"... More




  1. "Relentless Growth", Christopher Meyer

  2. "Radical Innovation", Harvard Business School

  3. "The Role of Tacit Knowledge in Group Innovation", Dorothy Leonard and Silvia Sensiper

  4. "Driving Growth Through Innovation", Robert B. Tucker

  5. Innovation Management Techniques (IMTs)

  6. DEGAP Tool: Thinking in Three Dimensions (EU)

  7. Systemic Innovation, Vadim Kotelnikov

  8. Business BLISS, Vadim Kotelnikov

  9. Creating a Culture for Innovation, Soren Kaplan

  10. Keeping Eyes Open for Inspiration, IDEO

  11. How To Transform Your Business Into an Innovative and Creative Culture, Ten3 NZ Ltd.