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Incremental and Radical Innovation: Design Research vs. Technology and Meaning Change

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Incremental and Radical Innovation: Design Research vs. Technology and Meaning Change Donald A. Norman, Roberto Verganti Donald A. Norman and Stephen W. Draper, Centered System Design: New Perspectives on Human–Computer Inter- action (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1986); Donald A. Norman, “Human-Centered Product Development,” Chapter 10 in The Invisible Computer: Why Good Products Can Fail, the Personal Computer Is So Complex, and Information Appliances Are the Solution (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998), Background Our work began independently. Norman was one of the originators of the class of design exploration now commonly known as user- centered or human-centered design (HCD). 1 These methods have a common framework: an iterative cycle of investigation—usually characterized by observations, an ideation phase, and rapid proto- type and testing. Each iteration builds on the lessons learned from the previous cycle, and the process terminates either when the results are appropriate or when the allotted time has run out. Norman realized that this continual process of checking with the intended users would indeed lead to incremental enhancements of the product; he also realized that it actually was a form of hill climbing—a well-known mathematical procedure for finding local optimization. In hill climbing’s application to design, consider a multi-dimensional hill where position on one dimen- sion—height along the vertical axis—represents product quality; and where position along the other dimensions, represents choices among various design parameters. This image is usually illus- trated with just two axes: product quality along the vertical axis and design parameters along the horizontal, as shown in Figure 1. Hill-climbing is used in situations, such as design, where the shape of the hill cannot be known in advance. Therefore, one makes tiny movements along all the design dimensions and selects the one that yields an increase in height, repeating until satisfied. This movement is precisely what the repeated rapid prototyping and testing is doing in HCD. Think of a blindfolded person trying to reach the top of a hill by feeling the ground in all directions around the current position and then moving to the highest posi- tion, repeating until the “ground” in all directions is lower than the current one: This position would be the top of the hill. Although the hill-climbing procedure guarantees continual improvement, with eventual termination at the peak of the hill, it has a well-known limit: “Climbers” have no way of knowing whether even higher hills might be scaled in some other part of the design space. Hill-climbing methods get trapped in local maxima. © 2013 Massachusetts Institute of Technology DesignIssues: Volume 30, Number 1 Winter 2014 doi:10.1162/DESI_a_00250
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... Incremental innovation is one that derives from existing knowledge (Hitt et al., 2010) and results from an exploitative innovation process that seeks to improve the current technologies (Han et al., 2020;Mei et al., 2013). Incremental innovation can occur more routinely and is also conducive to technological catch-up, resulting in additional competitive advantages, and displays low-risk characteristics (Norman & Verganti, 2014). Incremental innovation allows for small adjustments and improvements in current product lines (Chang et al., 2011;Hitt et al., 2010), which makes it possible to improve the performance of these products, reduce costs, and increase desire (Norman & Verganti, 2014). ...
... Incremental innovation can occur more routinely and is also conducive to technological catch-up, resulting in additional competitive advantages, and displays low-risk characteristics (Norman & Verganti, 2014). Incremental innovation allows for small adjustments and improvements in current product lines (Chang et al., 2011;Hitt et al., 2010), which makes it possible to improve the performance of these products, reduce costs, and increase desire (Norman & Verganti, 2014). Radical innovation generates deep changes in the industry, thus the literature often addressed radical innovation (Vanhaverbeke, 2013) but paid less attention to the research on incremental innovation (Han et al., 2020). ...
... Radical innovation generates deep changes in the industry, thus the literature often addressed radical innovation (Vanhaverbeke, 2013) but paid less attention to the research on incremental innovation (Han et al., 2020). Incremental innovation, being more usual, is also capable of originating technological developments that support competitive advantages at lower-risk levels than radical innovation (Norman & Verganti, 2014). It requires less time to develop and it reaches markets faster (Shaikh & Colarelli O'Connor, 2020). ...
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... According to the literature on the rise of different stakeholders (RI), organisational transparency and deliberate involvement should be used to create a social framework that ensures the effectiveness and validity of change [28]. Those innovation features do not seem to align with the concept of technological mechanisation [29][30]. S. However, they should generally be considered as the basic areas that create entry requirements based on the organisation's cultural and environmental context, considering the world's cultural structure. ...
... This insight expands the way for further inquiry into the key and linked topic of technologies that automate discoveries and facilitate the whole cycle of their integration. It is a challenge that applies to development and operational research and breakthrough and technological design [30]. ...
... Thus Krippendorff (2006) puts forward the concept of meaning as a new conceptual foundation of design emphasizing its interpretative dimension. So far, change in meaning has been explored as a way to radically innovate products (Norman andVerganti, 2014, Verganti, 2008). Although meaning and value seem to share common characteristics, a more detailed exploration of meaning and value as two core concepts in designing for service has not followed. ...
... Geldes et al. (2017) and Khan et al. (2019), among other researchers, classified innovations into two categories thus technological innovation (products and processes) and non-technological innovation also consists of (marketing and organizational). Others have also defined innovations as radical (Tellis et al., 2009;Tiberius et al., 2021) and incremental innovation (Bourreau et al., 2012;Norman and Verganti, 2014;Lennerts et al., 2020), major and minor innovations (Tambo and Wünscher, 2017;Storz et al., 2021). The classification of innovations as major and minor helps to differentiate the extent to which these inventions are novel to the firm or the market. ...
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