There are many organizations which have found success doing incremental rather than radical innovation.
Google, the search giant, is an example of a company that’s managed to stay on top of its game with a sharp focus on incremental improvement.
Apart from the very significant market changes Google forced on the media market through pay-per-click advertising (an innovation it did not invent, by the way), the company has spent a significant amount of time innovating in the area that first brought it success.
PageRank, the algorithm that first propelled its success, by making search results results better than competitors, was only an incremental improvement on the search engines of the time. Google has continued its leadership in the area, though, by tweaking and enhancing what it already knows how to do. It has proved a very successful strategy indeed.
Naturally, it is stupid to argue that big hits from radical innovation are always failures. Furthermore, not all firms have had to manage the long series of failures that companies such as Apple have had to endure in order to create those few, golden hit products.
The evidence, though, is that those companies which have had the big hit without the failures have been extremely lucky. The chances are your organization will not have such luck
For some people, buying a lottery ticket is a little like an idiot-tax. The ticket is bought in the hope it will win, but in order to secure the win, people have only to put a little change across the counter. They’re buying hope, but more often than not, they experience disappointment when most of the time, they don’t win anything at all.
A focus on radical innovation in the hope it will create a hit product is an idiot-tax on your business. It is not a sensible strategy to leave something to luck when it is possible to reduce the risk of a return by creating a balanced portfolio of innovation which contain both radical and incremental components.