Innovation glossary

You guide to key innovation management terms.


Adjacent innovation

The exploration of new ideas closely related to existing offerings, leveraging current capabilities to diversify and expand innovation efforts.

Agile development

An approach to software development under which requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams and their customer or end user.

Analogy thinking

The creative process of finding connections between unrelated ideas to inspire innovative solutions.


Awards or honors given to employees or partners for their achievements or contributions in various fields, often in the form of prizes or rewards.


Blue ocean strategy

A marketing theory (and title of a book) which suggests companies are better off searching for ways to gain “uncontested market space” than competing with similar companies.


A group creativity technique designed to generate a ideas to solve a problem.

Breakthrough innovation

Create radically transformative products or ideas that disrupt markets, often requiring unconventional approaches and high levels of creativity and risk.

Build-measure-learn framework

An iterative process in innovation and product development that emphasizes building a minimum viable product, measuring its performance, and learning from user feedback to inform subsequent iterations and improvements.

Business game

Business management simulation or game used for educational or training purposes to develop skills in decision-making, strategy, and problem-solving.

Business model canvas

A strategic management tool that provides a visual framework for developing, describing, and analyzing the key components of a business model, encompassing aspects such as customer segments, value proposition, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, key resources, key activities, key partners, and cost structure.


Call for startups

A process through which a company actively seeks participation and innovative idea proposals from startups, often as part of open innovation initiatives.

Challenge statement (how-might-we framework)

A concise and open-ended question that articulates a problem or opportunity, serving as a catalyst for creative ideation and problem-solving in the innovation process.


A collaborative process involving the active engagement of various stakeholders, both internal and external, in the design, development, and implementation of new ideas, products, or services.

Collective intelligence

Mobilizing the knowledge, skills and ideas of a group or community to solve problems or innovate collaboratively.

Continuous improvement

Continuous improvement is a methodical approach aimed at achieving incremental and ongoing enhancements in processes, services, or products.


Gathering ideas, services, or content through collective input by inviting contributions from a large group of people, typically from an online community.

Customer development

A formal methodology for building startups and new corporate ventures, it is one of the three parts that make up a lean startup, or a hypothesis-driven approach to business development.

Customer journey mapping

A visual or graphical interpretation of the overall story from an individual’s perspective of their relationship with an organization, service, product or brand, over time and across channels.

Customer validation

The process of obtaining feedback and real-world confirmation from potential customers to assess the viability and acceptance of a product or service within the target market, helping to refine and validate the business idea or innovation.


Design thinking

A non-linear, iterative process used by teams to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems, and craft innovative solutions that are subsequently prototyped and tested.

Digital transformation

Integrating digital technology into all facets of a business, resulting in a fundamental change in operational methods and the delivery of value to customers.

Disruptive innovation

An innovation that involves creating entirely new products or services that significantly alter the market landscape.


Empathy map

A visual tool that captures key insights and emotions of a target user or customer, helping teams understand and empathize with their perspective during the design and innovation process.

Employer branding

The reputation of a company as an employer, including its values, corporate culture, and initiatives that enhance its attractiveness to talent.

Employee challenge (also called employee innovation competition)

An initiative within organizations that motivates employees to engage in creative problem-solving and innovation, fostering a culture of collaboration to tackle specific business objectives or develop new ideas.

Employee engagement

Measurement of employee engagement, motivation, and satisfaction within the company.


The systematic process of testing and learning through controlled trials or tests to gain insights, optimize strategies, or validate hypotheses in various domains such as product development or business operations.



The practice of predicting and planning for future challenges and opportunities, often involves systematic and participatory methods for gathering intelligence about the future.



The strategy and execution plan for introducing and promoting a new product or service in the market, covering activities like marketing, sales, and distribution.



A competition in which innovators submit their solutions to a business problem.

How-now-wow matrix

A strategic tool that categorizes ideas or projects based on their feasibility, desirability, and viability, helping organizations prioritize and strategize their innovation efforts by distinguishing between incremental improvements (How), current offerings (Now), and breakthrough innovations (Wow).


Idea box

System that allows communities (typically employees) to propose ideas for improvement or innovation in an organization.

Idea funnel

The process represents the progression of ideas from conception to implementation, involving the stages of idea generation, evaluation, development, and eventual market introduction, with the goal of filtering and refining concepts to ensure successful innovation outcomes.

Idea generation

The process of igniting and cultivating original ideas through the stimulation of creative thinking and associative connections.

Idea management

The systematic process of capturing, documenting, and developing ideas within an organization and turning them into actionable projects.

Idea management software

A solution that centralizes the collection, organization, and development of ideas, facilitating a structured approach to innovation by enabling companies to capture and refine insights from employees and stakeholders into tangible outcomes.


The creative process of generating, developing and communicating ideas, often used to stimulate innovation within an organization.

Ideation platform

An online tool that allows employees to submit, discuss, and develop innovative ideas.

Incremental innovation

Slight improvements or upgrades made to a company’s existing products, services, processes, or methods.


Successful integration of new and useful ideas into an organization’s processes, products, services or practices, resulting in competitive advantage or value creation.

Innovation competition

A collaborative process that involves the active engagement of various stakeholders, both internal and external, in the design, development, and implementation of new ideas, products, or services.

Innovation ecosystem

A network or a system which contains interconnected organizations, individuals, and processes that foster, support, and promote innovation.

Innovation management

The process of managing an organization’s innovation process, starting from the initial stage of ideation, through to selection, development, and commercialization of ideas.

Innovation management software

A digital platform designed to streamline the innovation process, foster collaboration across teams, and efficiently turn ideas into actionable projects, thereby accelerating an organization’s capacity to innovate and grow.

Innovation matrix

A strategic tool that helps assess and prioritize innovation projects based on criteria such as feasibility, desirability, viability, and strategic fit, providing a visual framework to guide decision-making and resource allocation within an organization’s innovation portfolio.

Innovation process

A structured set of steps and methodologies used to stimulate, assess, and implement new ideas within an organization, from conception to realization.


A method of encouraging employees to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset within the company, encouraging them to develop innovative projects and contribute to internal innovation.


The repetitive and incremental process of refining and revising a product, idea, or project through multiple cycles of development, testing, and feedback, aiming to enhance and optimize outcomes over time.


Jobs-to-be-done framework

A theory and approach in innovation that focuses on understanding the underlying functional and emotional “jobs” or tasks that customers hire a product or service to accomplish, helping businesses better address user needs and preferences in product development.



A visual project management method, originally developed in the context of manufacturing, that uses boards to visualize tasks, their progress, and optimize workflow.

Knowledge management

The strategic coordination and harmonization of organizational knowledge assets, fostering seamless collaboration, retrieval, and synthesis to enhance overall decision-making and innovation.


Lean startup

A strategy in business and product development that strives to minimize product development cycles and quickly ascertain the viability of a proposed business model.


Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

The most pared-down version of a product that can still be released to market with a core set of features that allow it to be deployed and tested against users.


Open innovation

A collaborative approach that encourages companies to seek out and integrate external ideas, technologies, and skills to stimulate innovation, by establishing partnerships with external actors such as startups, students, recent graduates, or their suppliers.



A brief and persuasive presentation aiming to communicate the value, key features, and potential impact of a product, service, or idea to secure support, funding, or collaboration from investors, stakeholders, or potential partners.

Problem sizing

The process of quantifying and assessing the scope, impact, and significance of a specific problem or challenge, aiding in prioritization and resource allocation for effective problem-solving.

Problem validation

Problem validation is the process of confirming the existence and significance of a specific problem in a target market, ensuring clarity and relevance before proceeding with innovation efforts.

Process innovation

Implementing new methods or approaches to improve efficiency, productivity, or effectiveness within an organization.

Product innovation

Introducing novel or improved products to meet evolving customer needs or preferences.

Proof of Concept (PoC)

An exercise to validate the technical feasibility of an idea or concept, demonstrating its feasibility and verifying that some concept or theory has practical potential.


The creation of prototypes to transform initial concepts into tangible representations, allowing for hands-on exploration and iterative enhancement during the early development phase.


Radical innovation

Creating groundbreaking and transformative products, services, or ideas that bring about significant change in industries.



The inherent quality of a system or process to effortlessly adapt and expand in response to escalating demands, ensuring seamless performance and efficiency as requirements evolve.

Solution validation

The process of systematically assessing and confirming the effectiveness and suitability of a proposed solution to a problem, ensuring alignment with user needs and project goals.

Stakeholder engagement

The strategic coordination and collaboration with all relevant parties, ensuring their needs, perspectives, and contributions are synchronized for effective project advancement and stakeholder satisfaction.

Startup competition (also called startup innovation challenge)

A competition aimed at identifying, supporting, and promoting innovative startups by encouraging participation in challenges and dedicated events.

Startup scouting

A process of researching and identifying innovative startups that can add value to the company.

Student innovation challenge (also called student innovation competition)

Competition that aims to engage students in an innovation program to stimulate creativity and identify new talent.

Sustainable innovation

Innovation that improves an organization’s environmental and social performance, as well as its financial or economic success.


Talent acquisition

The strategic process of recruiting and integrating talent within a company, aimed at identifying and attracting qualified individuals to support innovation and growth.

Talent management

A set of processes and strategies designed to identify, develop and retain individuals with key competencies within the company, thereby fostering innovation and growth.

Technology adoption lifecycle

A model that categorizes consumers into segments based on their readiness to adopt new technologies, offering businesses insights on targeting and approaching diverse stages of market acceptance.

Technology innovation

Developing and implementing new technologies or leveraging existing ones to create innovative solutions, products, or processes.


User experience (UX)

The integration of user insights and interactions to form a cohesive and insightful user experience.


Value proposition design

A process where a company or entrepreneur identifies, creates, and tests the value that their products or services offer to customers.

Venture capital

A form of financial backing where investors assume risks alongside entrepreneurs in ventures, contributing capital in exchange for a stake in potential success.