A Framework For Innovation

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. The Ten Types of Innovation framework provides a way to identify new opportunities beyond products and develop viable innovations.

Overview of the Discipline

The Ten Types Discipline

At the heart of the framework is our discovery: all great innovations, throughout history, comprise some combination of these ten basic types. This is our Periodic Table.

The Ten Types Discipline

You can use the Ten Types to help your innovation efforts in many ways. It can be a diagnostic tool to assess how you're approaching innovation internally, it can help you analyze your competitive environment, and it can reveal gaps and potential opportunities for doing something different and upending the market.

The Ten Types Discipline

There are over 100 innovation tactics–specific, known ways you can use the Ten Types of Innovation. These are like the elements that bond together to form molecules; you can use them to construct the breakthroughs that will help you make a real impact on your industry.

Explore the Ten Types of Innovation

How might you combine three or four types to open up new possibilities and strengthen your innovation concept?






These types of innovation are focused on the innermost workings of an enterprise and its business system.




These types of innovation are focused on an enterprise's core product or service, or a collection of its products and services.






These types of innovation are focused on more customer-facing elements of an enterprise and its business system.

Profit Model

How you make money

Innovative 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


How you deliver your offerings to customers and users

Channel 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.


How you represent your offerings and busines

Brand 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.

Ten Types

The Book

Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs is the culmination of thirty years of analysis and research.

  • Overview
  • About the Authors
  • Testimonials

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.

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 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 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 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).

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, Dean, INSEAD

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

Ten Types
The Ten Types App

The App

The Ten Types of Innovation App is an interactive toolkit for generating, creating, and evaluating ideas that can lead to bigger and bolder innovations.

  • Overview
  • Learn
  • Explore
  • Create
  • Feedback

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.

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.

“This is something that could be useful to our startup teams as they think about the opportunities available to them.”

“Ideas form slowly in our portfolio companies. I'm interested to show them the tool—maybe it'll help them get to more substantial ideas sooner.”

“Our front end of innovation is not standardized. We’re trying to get there… would be great to give teams the tools they need to develop innovations.”

Download at the App Store
Ten Types
The Ten Types Cards

The Cards

Introducing a better set of building blocks, Innovation Tactics. These cards are a tool for exploring and constructing new offerings and businesses.

  • Overview
  • Feedback
Doblin developed a set of structured, systemic, easy-to-use cards to engage innovators and focus their ideation activities. They are based on our Ten Types of Innovation framework, which helps organizations think comprehensively about innovation. This card set includes over 100 individual Innovation Tactic cards and an overview of ways to use the Innovation Tactics Cards.

“Possibility of [imagining] many business models is the real power of the cards.”

“Great companion tool to the book."


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