The topic of innovation can send people in a lot of different directions. Perhaps the simplest definition of innovation is “something that provides new value to customers.” When we think about innovation as providing new value, it opens up a world of opportunities to us. And customers can be both external and internal. So innovation can enable us to provide new value both within the organization and to our external customers.

When you consider that there are 14 types of innovation (yes, there’s more than just product innovation), it gives us a great range of places to explore new value. Cirque du Soleil is a good example of a company that has provided experiential innovation or new external value (who knew the body can move like that?) to differentiate itself in the world of entertainment. McDonald’s has sold more than 99 billion burgers due in large part to its process innovation or new internal value–extracting costs from the processes that enable them to make a good, consistent burger.

Think about your innovation efforts over the past 12 months. What types of innovation have you explored? Has the innovation added new value internally, externally, or both?

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