The Innovation Life Cycle outlines the typical stages an innovation goes through - from the initial idea generation to development, implementation, evaluation, and adoption. This concept is closely related to product and technology life cycles, but it encompasses all types of innovations (not just those for products or technologies).
Stages of the innovation life cycle
At each stage in the life cycle, different tasks and stakeholders are involved depending on what is needed to help the innovation progress.
First off, there's the idea generation stage - this is all about coming up with concepts or solutions to a specific problem. These ideas can come from either internal and external sources, such as customers, competitors, employees, or consultants.
Then, during development, these ideas are evaluated for feasibility to ensure they're effective at solving the issues they set out to solve.
Once a team believes the innovation is feasible, the implementation phase can begin. This sees an innovation take shape on a small scale (usually in the form of a new product or service released to a few people or stores).
However, after implementation, it's important to monitor an innovation closely. There are often unexpected problems or complications when trying something for the first time, so it's important to identify these issues early on and and address them to maximize the chances of success.
Finally, during the diffusion stage, the innovation heads out into the wider world and is adopted on a larger scale. At this point, users need to understand how best to use the new product, service, or technology so they can benefit fully from it - so a company often has the role of educating its users on how something works.
Fluid, transitional, and specific stages
The stages in the life cycle outlined above can also be broken down into three broad stages: Fluid, transitional, and specific.
In the fluid stage, an innovation is constantly changing since innovators are trying to define the opportunity and obtain patents for it.
Once the innovation has been clearly defined, the transitional stage develops the business model of the innovation.
Finally, in the specific stage, innovators focus on fine-tuning the production process. This minimizes costs and decreases the development cycle time.
What to expect from the innovation life cycle
While all innovation life cycles follow the same broad path, they can differ depending on the type of innovation being developed. Sometimes, an innovation moves through the phases quickly; other times, a concept is more complex and requires more preparation, or needs to operate on a greater scale. These factors can result in something moving through the life cycle more slowly.
There are also other variables that can influence how the life cycle progresses, such as as culture, regulations, and market dynamics. For example, if a company is trying to carry out an innovation in the form of a new software platform, it would need to consider factors like user interface design and whether technical infrastructure meets regulatory compliance standards around the world.
Meanwhile, a firm developing a mobile app would have different considerations than a company making software for desktop computers - user experience design is more much important in smaller devices due to size constraints and battery limitations.
However, it's not just the stages themselves that matter - firms also need to pay attention to how activities leading up to each stage can maximize the chances of successful outcomes. For instance, carrying out customer segmentation prior to idea generation gives an organization a better understanding of its audience, helping it to produce a better product and identify the best opportunities before launching.
Overall, effective management of each phase in the innovation life cycle is crucial for leading a successful innovation with greater uptake that provides more value for organizations and individuals.
Related Keywords: Idea Generation, Development, Implementation, Evaluation, Adoption/Diffusion
What is Innovation Life Cycle?
The Innovation Life Cycle is a framework for the stages of an innovation from its inception through to adoption and diffusion.