By Thomas M. Loarie

BOOK REVIEW: There is No Excuse Not to Innovate; Stakes are High and Time is Short

March 17, 2015
Column: CEO Learnings

We live in a period of accelerating change—socially, culturally, and organizationally. Old norms and old institutions are being challenged, transformed and destroyed as never before. The massive structural change that is underway makes this period very different from all previous periods.

I see this first-hand in the work I do with a parish ministry focused on helping those who are in transition—more than 1,000 executives and professionals, from a broad swath of industries. We provide emotional and professional support to help members successfully re-invent themselves so that they can adapt and fit into a rapidly changing market—the “new normal.” Career innovation is the goal and we have a proven systematic process that leads to success for those who follow it.

Author Larry Keeley, in his Ten Types of Innovation, has done something similar, but for organizations. He has pioneered many ideas and methods at the core of innovation effectiveness, including the 10 types of innovation presented here. He has spent more than 30 years learning and thinking about what makes an innovation succeed or fail.  His stated goal of the book is to help us think through “what needs to be done when problems are real, stakes are high, time is short, and abstract answers are inadequate.” 

Ten Types of Innovation codifies, structures, and simplifies three decades of work by Keeley and his colleagues. He and his co-authors show how you can innovate effectively without falling prey to old, “goofy techniques” and myths like brainstorming which have been discredited and fail more than 98% of the time.  Instead, with ground-breaking tools and techniques, they offer a systemic modular approach that moves the field from being an art form to  being a science-based discipline.

The heart of this book are the Ten Types of Innovation which were developed and codified over 30 years by the authors.  All great innovations throughout history comprise some combination of these 10 basic types.  Keeley has organized these into three categories (configuration, offering and experience), and calls the 10 types “our periodic table.” He and his colleagues have seen the application of this so-calledc periodic table to “demonstrably increase the innovation hit rate.”

The 10 Types of Innovation are:

  1. The profit model – how you make money
  2. The network- how you connect with others to create value
  3. The structure – how you organize and align your talent and assets
  4. The process –  using superior methods to do the work
  5. The product performance – how you distinguish features and functionality
  6. The product system – how you create complementary products and services
  7. The service – how you support and amplify the value of your offerings
  8. The channel – how you deliver your offerings to your customers and users
  9. The brand – how you represent your offerings and business
  10. And customer engagement – how you foster compelling interactions

The books contains many abbreviated mentions of innovative companies including Procter & Gamble, Henry Ford West Bloomfield hospital, Lego, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Google, Ford, Amazon, Starbucks and Virgin.

Why you need to read this book? Because we live in a period of “Black Swans,” causing not-so-creative destruction to organizations  and careers. All of us need to be engaged in innovation so that we can “get the future to show up” slightly ahead of its scheduled (and unscheduled) arrival. Innovation is not the domain of geniuses.


BUY NOW FROM AMAZON: The Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs, by Larry Keeley, Helen Walters, Ryan Pikkel, Brian Quinn


Thomas M. Loarie is the CEO of BryoLogyx, a rotating host of THE MENTORS RADIO SHOW, and a senior editorial advisor and columnist for Catholic Business Journal. He may be reached at


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