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LEAD Innovation Blog

Read our latest articles on innovation management and innovation in a wide range of industries.

Date: 24-Jul-2019
Posted by: Tanja ESCHBERGER
Category: Innovation goals

How to define innovation goals with an innovation tree


Innovation goals as superordinate components of an innovation process mark the starting point of the innovation process and define the strategies and process steps derived from them. In this article we show you how you can easily derive and define your innovation goals for the company with an innovation tree.

What is an innovation tree?

When it comes to defining innovation goals, many questions arise first:

  • What types of innovation are sought: Is the focus on products or are new processes or new technologies relevant?
  • How high should the degree of innovation be? Is it just the facelift of a product or is a breakthrough innovation being sought?
  • How many innovations per year should be implemented in which areas?

An effective way to define and formulate innovation goals is to analyze a company's innovation past. In discussions with experienced employees of your company, you can easily find out which products, processes, technologies or services are considered innovative in your company. The LEAD innovation family tree then serves as a graphical representation of the innovations of the past. It provides an overview of innovations and shows which innovations you have been successful in the market with in the past - because important conclusions can be drawn for the future from the past.

To complete the picture of the innovation past, the innovation family tree can be supplemented by a flop family tree. Innovations that either failed at a very early stage of development or failed on the market are then depicted here. The findings are just as instructive for future innovation goals as an innovation tree.

Case Study Strategic Innovation management


Identification of innovations

The next step is to distinguish between an invention and an innovation. According to Schumpeter, a real innovation is when an invention, i.e. an idea, has also been successful on the market. By comparing products, processes, technologies or services with a defined success characteristic, it is easy to find out what was actually an innovation. Thus those products appear in the innovation family tree that are not only considered innovative, but also show success on the market.


Display innovation tree

Once you have defined what an innovation is for your company, you can start developing your innovation tree. The identified innovations of the past are categorized according to product groups or similar criteria and presented in chronological order. This makes three things visible:

  • Type of innovation and degree of innovation:What innovations can you expect from your company because of its past? Have you been successful with Signature Innovations or imitation products, for example? Does your research and development department also have the capacity for a breakthrough innovation?
  • Number and time intervals:How many and how regularly do you place innovations on the market? The family tree shows you in detail, in which time intervals your company has produced important innovations. From this you can then deduce in which periods of time you can set your next innovation goals.
  • Areas with a promising future:In which areas are innovations particularly worthwhile? Where should the focus of innovation lie? The innovation family tree provides information about product groups with which you have been particularly successful in recent years. However, it also shows in which areas there is a need for innovation, since, for example, no innovation has been placed here for twenty years.
  • Pattern:Which patterns have led to successful innovations or flops so far? An innovation family tree helps you to identify successful patterns and apply them to your future innovation activities (e.g. development of innovations with lead users). A flop tree, on the other hand, shows what led to the flop and what you can do better on your next project. Both innovation history charts help you minimize the risk of flops.
  • Industry cycles:Is your industry facing a breakthrough innovation? Disruptive innovations occur in every industry at certain intervals. If you analyze your industry more closely, you can see whether such an innovation can be expected in the near future or not. By placing the development cycles of your industry over your innovation tree, you can align your innovation activity - or create your own breakthrough innovation.

With the help of an innovation family tree you can read a lot for the future - from the number of innovations to degree of innovation and type of innovation to pattern recognition, the family tree gives you an overview of what your company can achieve. In combination with the trend and needs development of the future, important findings for future innovation projects and innovation goals can be derived.


Conclusion: How to define innovation goals with an innovation tree

The innovation process does not just start with the generation of ideas, but already with the definition of innovation goals. The innovation family tree, which you can also add a flop family tree, represents your innovation past. In combination with the analysis of trends, sound innovation goals and the roadmap for your company can be derived from this. For example, it can be seen at a glance that a product will soon be outdated, but that market needs are still present and a new trend will require innovative solutions in the future. The more you know about your innovation past, the more detailed you can plan your innovation goals and the lower the probability of flops.

News about Innovation goals


Born in Lower Austria. At LEAD Innovation she works as Head of Innovation and focuses on agile innovation management via SCRUM.

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