How To Find Your Innovation Tilt Using Doblin's Ten Types

For many, innovation is a hit or miss affair – left for luck. The “one day I’ll have an aha-moment and become the next Tesla” kind of thinking. Well and great. Few, unfortunately, know how to follow a disciplined approach to assessing their idea against the current competitors in a market. Further yet, they don’t know how to gauge whether or not their idea is robust and actually differentiated from the offerings in the market.

Need help? Let me tell you about Doblin’s Ten Types Framework.

Why do I need to use the Ten Types?

The Ten Types framework provides a way to diagnose and assess the current market you are attempting to enter. Think of it as market diagnosis. By using the framework, you are able to see where the current players in the market are focusing, and what areas they’ve decided to deliberately ignore. As a result, you will be able to find possible innovation tilts that you could explore and possibly differentiate through. Quite powerful, isn’t it? And it is.

What are the Ten Types?

The Ten Types framework provides ten (obviously) distinct forms of innovation. An offering can be a single type (not recommended), or a combination of two or more types. The Ten Types are as follows.

Doblin's Ten Types

The Ten Types are broken down into three clusters: Configuration, Offering and Experience. We can think of configuration as back-end innovation – what the customer does not see. This is mainly true except for the “profit model” type. The way you make money might be through a subscription model, and in that case, your consumer is aware of it. Offering and Experience on the other hand, are purely customer-facing.

Let’s take a look at an example

Matcha Starbucks Pastry in Tokyo

Starbucks has become an icon everywhere around the world. And while its product’s performance (the quality of its coffee) is questionable to some (coffee connoisseurs, take it easy), there is no denying that it heavily focuses on other aspects across the spectrum. Starbucks has successfully positioned its brand as a place between home and work where individuals can enjoy a cup of coffee. It also pays attention to everything it sells alongside its cup of coffee (product system). This tends to be seasonal (pumpkin spice everything) as well as regional (matcha everything in Japan). Besides strengthening and positioning itself, Starbucks heavily enforces customer engagement. It has created an online portal where any customer can log on and post ideas. Those ideas are voted on and may even end up being implemented. In 2008, Starbucks shifted its focus to another type of innovation: Process, by improving its supply chain. Process, according to Doblin’s Ten Types, is a company’s signature or superior method for doing its work.

Starbucks' Innovation Tilts

So how can I use this framework to assess a market?

It is wise to get a feel of where current players in the market are focusing. This will give you remarkable insight into how you can possibly differentiate your offering.

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

According to Doblin’s research, competitors in a market usually only focus on the product itself and neglect other forms of innovation. This is expected. Business owners tend to focus on their product’s features and the way it is designed because that is what they end up selling and handing over to a consumer. Unfortunately, this is a dangerous endeavor. Successful innovators play on other aspects across the spectrum of the Ten Types. My recommendation is to enter a market by zoning in on one of the Ten Types, but nailing it down. Later on, you would move on to combining other types from the spectrum to the one you initially started with (just like Starbucks did by improving its process in 2008).

Should I combine multiple types in my offering?

In a nutshell: yes (but not initially). It is highly recommended that you combine multiple types of innovation in your offering to make it more robust. According to the research that went behind this book, it was found that the number of types used by average innovators is 1.8 types. On the other hand, the number of types used by top innovators Is, on average, 3.6 types. What this basically means is that you are better off combining multiple types of innovation in your offering to increase your odds at success.

Off to you!

You can see how the Ten Types framework, developed by Doblin, is a great tool to diagnose a market and strategize your offering. Have you used the Ten Types framework before? Do you find it valuable? Are there other strategic tools you use to diagnose a market? Sound off in the comments below!

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