This article is for Innovators, Entrepreneurs, and Business Leaders who are reluctant to engage in continuous innovation activities due to persistently low innovation hit rates.

Innovating can feel complex, complicated, and ambiguous due to the numerous decision factors that you must deal with in an innovation project.  We have identified the primary factors that most influence the speed and hit rate of innovation. 

These factors, which we have organized as correlated dualities, simplify the innovating process, reduce uncertainty, and accelerate innovation. 

People believe that innovating is a complex, complicated, and ambiguous activity.  This belief is supported by the fact that innovating projects yield innovations 40% of the time.  The number of factors, decisions, and kinds of work that are connected by process but disconnected in time, can be overwhelming.

In fact, we have identified 22 factors that require judgment and decisions to be made that affect both the direction and the speed of a project.  Making decisions about each of these factors separately leads to the feeling that innovating is a highly uncertain and chaotic endeavor.

We have organized the 22 factors into correlated pairs called Dualities.  Dualities are related two-factor variables.  The resolution of the Duality can only be achieved by satisfying both factors.  The factors in seven of the Dualities are mutually supportive.  The factors in the other 4 Dualities are paradoxical. 

The need to make decisions about the factors does not occur at the same time.  Knowing which factors are related as Dualities, and when each Duality needs be dealt with in the Innovating Process, is a simplification that greatly decreases the complexity, complications, and ambiguity of innovating. 

Understanding the Dualities

1.     Innovating / Entrepreneurship

This Duality seeks to balance the organizational capabilities of developing a new solution with commercializing that solution. 

Innovating focuses on developing the attractiveness of a new solution.  Entrepreneurship focuses on facilitating adoption of the new solution.  Developing attractiveness is the first stage of the Adoption Process. 

2.     Invention / Introduction Paradox

This Duality is a paradox. 

Invention productivity is grounded in individual design skills.  Introduction productivity is grounded in organizational process skills. 

Individual design skills and organizational process skills are not always compatible in a project environment.  The common ground connecting the two skill sets is found in the New Solution Specification, invented through design and introduced through process.

3.     Threat / Opportunity Paradox

This Duality is a paradox dealing with the urgency of impact for the innovating project. 

The Threat of declining Sales due to competitor actions and customer reactions requires a short term response.  The Opportunity for future profits resulting from new solutions anticipates a longer term response. 

Responding to a threat in the context of “running the business” is a different capability compared to developing a new opportunity in the context of “building the business”.

Achieving the right balance between the two capabilities is a competitive differentiator. 

4.     Purpose / Job-to-be-Done

This Duality seeks to align Business Purpose (i.e. this is what we intend to do and why) with the User desire for a better solution experience.  Aligning Purpose with the Job-to-be-Done motivates both the organization and the customer to change to a better solution.

5.     Cognitive response / Emotional Reaction

There is an available solution for everything a user wants to do and accomplish.  But there is no such thing as a perfect solution.  Every solution elicits a cognitive response (i.e. “Does it work?”, “Is it better?”, “Is it necessary?”) and an emotional reaction (i.e. from “I like it!” to “I hate it!”). 

Understanding both the cognitive and emotional Duality of the user experience with available solutions leads to uncovering problems worth solving.

6.     Trouble / Novelty Paradox

This Duality is a paradox. 

Trouble is the user indicator that there may be a problem worth solving with an available solution.  Trouble is a persistent reaction to both the user experience with an available solution and to the difficulty of changing to a new solution. 

Novelty is a way to generate interest in a new solution.  Novelty is a transient reaction to a new solution that may generate initial interest but does not cause adoption. 

The new solution must have enough novelty to generate customer interest to try it, along with a net reduction in trouble (i.e. less trouble-in-use minus the trouble to change solutions) to become adopted.

7.     Technologies / Problems Worth Solving

A new solution is based upon the Duality of a Problem Worth Solving and an enabling Technology. 

A technology without a problem worth solving is an answer in search of a problem.

A problem worth solving without an enabling technology derails a new solution.

8.     New Knowledge / New Solutions

The genesis of an innovation is always new knowledge.  The genesis of a new solution is always the desirable, feasible, viable, suitable application of new knowledge.   

9. Product / Service

The Product / Service Duality is also a Service / Product Duality. 

In the Product / Service Duality, a Product is distinguished by the Services it performs for the User. 

In the Service / Product Duality, a Service the Customer gets is distinguished by the Products it utilizes. 

10. Momentum / Friction Paradox

This Duality is a paradox. 

The Rate-of-Change in a business is dependent upon the ratio of Momentum for change versus the Friction to maintain the status quo.  If the Rate-of-Change is too low, there is either too much Friction preventing acceptance of change, or too much Momentum causing chaos which suppresses change. 

Managing the ratio of Momentum to Friction optimizes the Rate-of-Change and increases the speed of new solution introduction.

11. Acceptance / Adoption

This Duality recognizes that for the change to a new solution to occur, it must be Accepted by the organization and Adopted by the customers. 

Organizational acceptance is the bottleneck that a new solution must pass through before customer adoption is even possible.  Without Acceptance, the new solution isn’t available for the Adoption Process.  Without Adoption, there is no demand for the organization to respond to. 

Acceptance / Adoption requires mutually supportive business capabilities. 


Needing to deal with the 22 factors is something that every organization experiences in innovating projects.  Making decisions about the factors as Dualities removes much of the complexity, complication, and ambiguity attributed to innovating.  As the complexity, complications, and ambiguity decrease, innovation speed and hit rate increase.

 The Agile Innovating practice integrates the 11 Dualities into the 8 vital process steps increasing both the speed and the hit rate of innovating. 


Twenty two factors

Eleven Dualities

Fast Innovation

-Innovation Haiku, Kevin A Fee, January 31, 2024

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