Ten Types of Innovation:
The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs


Innovation almost never fails
due to a lack of creativity.

It's almost always because
of a lack of discipline.

Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs, Doblin's new book to help you innovate your way to meaningful and sustainable growth.

Successful innovators analyze the patterns of innovation in their industry. Then they make conscious, considered choices to innovate in different ways.

Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs is the culmination of thirty years of analysis and research. The innovation framework was built around a seminal Doblin discovery, that there are ten distinct types of innovation that need to be orchestrated with care to make game-changing innovations.

We wrote this book to address how you can think about innovating effectively; how you can work to get the future to show up just slightly ahead of its regularly scheduled arrival; and how you can ensure your teams are equipped with the robust methods they need to succeed.

Learn more about the Ten Types of Innovation.


I have long admired the innovation work of Larry Keeley and am thrilled that he has shared his concepts, insights, and experience with the world in his terrific book. Ten Types of Innovation is a must-read for any manager seriously interested in building an innovation culture rather than waiting around hoping for the next immaculate conception.”

Roger L. Martin
Dean, Rotman School of Management

Ten Types of Innovation will become the indispensable ‘how to do it’ textbook of disruptive innovation, providing an executable roadmap for transformative change in any industry.”

Dr. Nicholas F. LaRusso
Medical Director, Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation

Innovation is not for amateurs and most meaningful developments are not accidents. Great innovators follow disciplined approaches and Larry Keeley outlines an evidence-based methodology which takes innovation well beyond product tweaking. Ten Types of Innovation provides great frameworks to help you rethink the role innovation plays in your business and will raise the quality of the innovation dialogue from a black art to a serious science.”

Ralph Jerome
VP of Corporate Innovation, Mars, Inc.

Ten Types of Innovation captures the entire innovation ecosystem, from essential organizational structures and processes to critical aspects of the product or service being introduced. It distills three decades of innovation research into an action-oriented framework, offering a comprehensive map to guide creative teams as they venture into challenging new territory.”

Dipak C. Jain

Doblin helped us achieve our goal to continuously and successfully introduce transformational innovations to our customers. Ten Types of Innovation provides the insights necessary to get you started on your innovation journey.”

Curt Nonomaque
President and CEO, VHA


Part One



Now and then a new science emerges that radically changes how a field is conducted. This is precisely what is occurring now in the modern practice of innovation. But beware: myths are abundant and are exceptionally hard to eradicate.

Part Two



At the heart of any new discipline there often lies a simple, organizing system — an underlying structure and order governing what works and what fails. This is what the Ten Types framework brings to innovation. Consciously understanding it makes innovation easier and more effective.

Part Three



Using more types of innovation produces more sophisticated and surprising results — and does so in ways competitors can't easily spot or copy.

Part Four



Innovations that change industries can seem like they come out of nowhere. In fact, you can see the early warning signals that reveal when big changes are needed — and then seize on them.

Part Five



Sophisticated innovations share similar components at their core. By deconstructing and distilling the work of successful innovations, the building blocks for new concepts emerge.

Part Six



Everyone is in favor of innovation. Yet nearly every organization conspires to kill it. Here are principles on how to build an enterprise innovation system that fosters, rewards, and delivers results.

Part Seven



Go beyond the book to create your own innovation revolution.


Larry Keeley

Larry Keeley is a globally recognized leader in innovation effectiveness, a topic he tackles as a professor in design and business schools, and a speaker, writer, and researcher. Obsessed with understanding why innovation mostly fails, he has worked to grow the field as a science rather than an exercise in applied creativity. Along with his mentor Jay Doblin, he cofounded Doblin back in 1981 and since 2013 he has been a director in Monitor Deloitte, where he serves as thought leader for the firm’s global innovation practice.

Larry has worked on innovation challenges in 55 different industries and with many of the world’s leading firms and philanthropies. He is both a board member and adjunct professor at Chicago’s Institute of Design — the first design school in the United States to offer a PhD in the topic. He lectures at executive education programs at Kellogg Graduate School of Management and is an adjunct faculty member in the core MBA program and in Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering, where he teaches in the Masters of Manufacturing Management program. Larry was a Senior Fellow of the Center for Business Innovation in Boston, serves on the external advisory council for the Mayo Clinic, and is also a board member for Chicago Public Radio, where he helped to develop shows like This American Life and other innovative programs.

Ryan Pikkel

Ryan Pikkel is a design strategist at Doblin. He is responsible for guiding clients and teams through innovation programs to articulate and develop solutions that will benefit both the client and the end user. In addition, Ryan makes significant contributions to developing Doblin’s own tools and processes — including the Ten Types of Innovation framework, the Innovation Tactics, associated Tactics cards and the Ten Types app. His work has spanned industries, while he has helped to establish innovation capabilities for clients in Seoul and Mumbai. Ryan is also a member of adjunct faculty at the Institute of Design at IIT, where he teaches innovation tools and techniques.

Brian Quinn

Brian Quinn is a leader at Doblin. He is responsible for designing and overseeing scaled innovation programs with some of our largest clients — working with them both to innovate and become more effective innovators. He helps advance the company’s leadership in building innovation capabilities and implementing innovations for clients, and is a key member of the team that continues to evolve the Ten Types of Innovation framework. His work has spanned many industries, but he has particular experience in health care. Brian has also worked as a screenwriter for the film industry, and is fascinated by the power of narrative.

Helen Walters

Helen Walters is the Ideas Editor at TED. At Doblin she worked on The Ten Types of Innovation as a writer, editor, and researcher. Previously the editor of innovation and design at BusinessWeek (and then at Bloomberg BusinessWeek), she joined the firm to help develop editorial strategy. She writes and publishes the regular blog, Thought You Should See This. And she tweets incessantly (@helenwalters).


Stop innovating in the dark.
Start innovating with confidence.

From startups to corporations, venture capitalists to entrepreneurs, the Ten Types of Innovation App is the interactive toolkit that will help you generate, create, and evaluate ideas that can lead to bigger and bolder innovations.

At Doblin, we’ve discovered that innovation almost never fails due to a lack of creativity—it almost always fails due to a lack of discipline. The Ten Types of Innovation® App for iPad® bundles more than 100 building blocks of innovation with a sketchpad and curated newsfeed to provide a systematic framework to discover, build, and test your ideas, helping you innovate with confidence.


Take a deep dive into each of the innovation types and more than 100 tactics and learn how they can be combined to create more effective business opportunities for your organization.

Upgrade: Premium users can also share Innovation Tactics by email and tag favorites for quick access.


Be inspired by leading innovators through our carefully curated innovation newsfeed. We apply a Ten Types lens to each article so that you can see the various combinations other organizations are using to build and grow their businesses.

Upgrade: Premium users can capture insights and data points and bookmark articles for easy reference.


Build your own breakthrough ideas with our step-by-step prompts and tools that guide you through this systematic approach to concept development. Choose from preset tactics combinations or create your own as you build your idea and bring it to life visually and financially in the sketchpad.

Upgrade: Premium users can create unlimited concepts as well as package and share their ideas with others via email.


Unlock the full potential of the Ten Types of Innovation experience by upgrading to the premium level. In addition to the features of the free version—curated newsfeed, interactive Ten Types of Innovation framework, 100+ building blocks of innovation and one concept development—you will be able to:

  • Create an unlimited number of concepts
  • Bookmark articles in your newsfeed for future reference
  • Tag and share innovation tactics
  • Create and share your own innovation tactics
  • Package and share the concepts you’ve developed


Innovate more effectively and confidently with these Ten Types of Innovation resources:

For the App:Privacy PolicyTerms and Conditions

For many years, executives equated innovation with the development
of new products. But creating new products is only one way to innovate, and on its own, it provides the lowest return on investment and the least competitive advantage.

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.


Learn more about each type of innovation by clicking through the boxes below.

Product Performance
Product System
Customer Engagement




Profit Model | How you make moneyInnovative profit models find a fresh way to convert a firm’s offerings and other sources of value into cash. Great ones reflect a deep understanding of what customers and users actually cherish and where new revenue or pricing opportunities might lie. Innovative profit models often challenge an industry’s tired old assumptions about what to offer, what to charge, or how to collect revenues. This is a big part of their power: in most industries the dominant profit model often goes unquestioned for decades.
Network | How you connect with others to create value In today’s hyper-connected world, no company can or should do everything alone. Network innovations provide a way for firms to take advantage of other companies’ processes, technologies, offerings, channels, and brands —pretty much any and every component of a business. These innovations mean a firm can capitalize on its own strengths while harnessing the capabilities and assets of others. Network innovations also help executives to share risk in developing new offers and ventures. These collaborations can be brief or enduring, and they can be formed between close allies or even staunch competitors.
Structure | How you organize and align your talent and assets Structure innovations are focused on organizing company assets — hard, human, or intangible — in unique ways that create value. They can include everything from superior talent management systems to ingenious configurations of heavy capital equipment. An enterprise’s fixed costs and corporate functions can also be improved through Structure innovations, including departments such as Human Resources, R&D, and IT. Ideally, such innovations also help attract talent to the organization by creating supremely productive working environments or fostering a level of performance that competitors can’t match.
Process | How you use signature or superior methods to do your work Process innovations involve the activities and operations that produce an enterprise’s primary offerings. Innovating here requires a dramatic change from “business as usual” that enables the company to use unique capabilities, function efficiently, adapt quickly, and build market–leading margins. Process innovations often form the core competency of an enterprise, and may include patented or proprietary approaches that yield advantage for years or even decades. Ideally, they are the “special sauce” you use that competitors simply can’t replicate.
Product Performance How you develop distinguishing features and functionality Product Performance innovations address the value, features, and quality of a company’s offering. This type of innovation involves both entirely new products as well as updates and line extensions that add substantial value. Too often, people mistake Product Performance for the sum of innovation. It’s certainly important, but it’s always worth remembering that it is only one of the Ten Types of Innovation, and it’s often the easiest for competitors to copy. Think about any product or feature war you’ve witnessed—whether torque and toughness in trucks, toothbrushes that are easier to hold and use, even with baby strollers. Too quickly, it all devolves into an expensive mad dash to parity. Product Performance innovations that deliver long-term competitive advantage are the exception rather than the rule.
Product System How you create complementary products and services Product System innovations are rooted in how individual products and services connect or bundle together to create a robust and scalable system. This is fostered through interoperability, modularity, integration, and other ways of creating valuable connections between otherwise distinct and disparate offerings. Product System innovations help you build ecosystems that captivate and delight customers and defend against competitors.
Service How you support and amplify the value of your offerings Service innovations ensure and enhance the utility, performance, and apparent value of an offering. They make a product easier to try, use, and enjoy; they reveal features and functionality customers might otherwise overlook; and they fix problems and smooth rough patches in the customer journey. Done well, they elevate even bland and average products into compelling experiences that customers come back for again and again.
Channel | How you deliver your offerings to customers and usersChannel innovations encompass all the ways that you connect your company’s offerings with your customers and users. While e-commerce has emerged as a dominant force in recent years, traditional channels such as physical stores are still important — particularly when it comes to creating immersive experiences. Skilled innovators in this type often find multiple but complementary ways to bring their products and services to customers. Their goal is to ensure that users can buy what they want, when and how they want it, with minimal friction and cost and maximum delight.
Brand | How you represent your offerings and businessBrand innovations help to ensure that customers and users recognize, remember, and prefer your offerings to those of competitors or substitutes. Great ones distill a “promise” that attracts buyers and conveys a distinct identity. They are typically the result of carefully crafted strategies that are implemented across many touchpoints between your company and your customers, including communications, advertising, service interactions, channel environments, and employee and business partner conduct. Brand innovations can transform commodities into prized products, and confer meaning, intent, and value to your offerings and your enterprise.
Customer Engagement | How you foster compelling interactions Customer Engagement innovations are all about understanding the deep-seated aspirations of customers and users, and using those insights to develop meaningful connections between them and your company. Great Customer Engagement innovations provide broad avenues for exploration, and help people find ways to make parts of their lives more memorable, fulfilling, delightful — even magical.