4 Dimensions of Innovation | Product, Process, Position, Paradigm


The 4 dimensions of innovation are based on the 4 Ps of Innovation space model, developed by Professors John Bessant and Joe Tidd. It presents a comprehensive framework for understanding and implementing innovation. It extends beyond the traditional focus on products to encompass all aspects that can be innovated within a business: Product, Process, Position, and Paradigm.

Product Innovation: The Forefront of Change

Product innovation stands as the most conspicuous facet of innovation, manifesting through the introduction of novel products or the enhancement of existing ones. It’s the innovation that consumers directly interact with and benefit from, often propelling a company to the forefront of industry advancements.

Example: Apple Inc.’s iPhone amalgamated a phone, an internet device, and a music player, redefining the mobile phone landscape with its innovative design and functionality.

Process Innovation: The Operational Backbone

While product innovation captures consumer attention, process innovation is the unsung hero that fortifies a company’s operational capabilities. It encompasses the refinement or creation of new production, delivery, and support methodologies, emphasizing efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Example: Toyota’s Just-In-Time (JIT) production model drastically minimized inventory costs while streamlining manufacturing processes, showcasing operational excellence.

Position Innovation: Reframing Perception

Position innovation transcends product alterations, focusing instead on modifying the market’s perception of a product or service. It involves strategic shifts in branding, marketing, and target segmentation to reposition an organization’s offerings.

Example: Starbucks transformed from a coffee bean retailer to a purveyor of the complete coffee experience, altering the societal role of coffee shops.

Paradigm Innovation: Redefining Realities

At its deepest level, paradigm innovation reshapes the foundational beliefs and business models of an organization. It has the potential to overhaul industry standards and create significant market shifts.

Example: Netflix’s transition from DVD rentals to a streaming service model revolutionized entertainment distribution, setting new industry benchmarks.

The Symbiosis of Incremental and Radical Innovation

The 4 Ps framework also illustrates the synergy between incremental and radical innovations. Incremental innovations make continuous, impactful improvements, while radical innovations introduce substantial market shifts, often birthing entirely new markets. Incremental innovation is about doing something better while radical innovation is about doing something different.

Application of the 4 Ps in Business Strategy

Businesses can harness the 4 dimensions of innovation to systematically scrutinize various innovation avenues, promoting a holistic approach. This ensures that every business aspect is a candidate for innovation, from tangible products to intangible business paradigms, fostering comprehensive growth and market resilience.