3 Kinds of Leadership for 3 Kinds of Innovation

20 copies available!!

Leave a comment on this guest post by Matt Chanoff to become eligible for one of 20 complimentary copies of his new book, The Heart of Innovation: A Field Guide for Navigating to Authentic Demand.

Deadline for eligibility is 11/11/2023. International winners will receive electronic version.

To lead transformative innovation, be psychologically acute; avoid, recognize and deal with resistance. Image of a person letting in the sun.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

There are three kinds of innovation, each calling for distinct leadership techniques. 

 #1. Informative innovation:

Train engines already exist. Informative innovation is building a more efficient train engine.

All businesses have a form encompassing value propositions, brands, customers, competitors, and investors. Informative innovation adds value within that form.

To be an informative innovation leader, protect your people and keep them pointed toward customer demand.

Resistance is where fruit waits to emerge. Image of a nut being cracked.

 #2. Transformative innovation:

Transformative innovation changes a business’s essential form. The CEO says, “We’re not a railroad; we’re a transportation company. Let’s expand to planes and ships.” 

The biggest problem is immunity to change. 

It’ll turn out the insurance department doesn’t know the airfreight insurance market, the scheduler’s software can’t deal with port delays, the salespeople only know customers shipping bulk items that don’t fit on planes, and so on down the line.

Immunity to change means people throughout the company actively or passively resist transformation.

To lead transformative innovation, be psychologically acute; avoid, recognize, and deal with resistance.

#3. Formative innovation.

Formative innovation leads to brand-new business lines that leverage a company’s strengths to meet demands that were previously unrecognized.

In the 1870s, telegraph companies needed to run wires between cities, so they went to the railroads, which owned the right of way along their tracks. Soon, telegraph wires were strung up beside tracks around the country, and the railroads had a whole new revenue stream. 

To lead formative innovation, build a new toolkit to uncover and build businesses around authentic demand. 

How important is innovation to your business?

Which form of innovation seems most relevant to your business?

Matt Chanoff is a San Francisco-based angel investor who has worked with more than 30 early-stage companies, helping them to design business models and strategies and develop marketing and implementation strategies. His book, The Heart of Innovation: A Field Guide for Navigating to Authentic Demand, co-written with Merrick Furst, Daniel Sabbah, and Mark Wegman, outlines the secrets of Authentic Demand and is available from Berrett-Koehler Publishers (November 7, 2023).