Innovations and CPI: What Are They and How Do They Work Together?


Posted by Jade Baranski on Aug 16, 2021 1:21:52 PM

  • The innovation process is always a difficult one from securing funding to development and implementation. Oftentimes many innovators within the Department of Defense experience another layer of difficulty by not quite understanding the difference between an innovation and a CPI, or a continuous process improvement. While they are related, they can both have two completely different avenues to achieving the outcome.

    In brief, the two are defined as such: 

    > Innovation: A brand new idea. At its core, innovation is about solving problems that have yet to be solved through the creation of new processes and products from scratch.

    > CPI: Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) is the process of improving an existing product, service or process, either incrementally or revolutionarily.  Process improvement isn’t a one-time engagement, rather, it runs continuously, necessitating the need to evolve in order to stay useful.

For quick reference, here’s a table comparing the two directly!



Brand new system, process, or idea.

An improvement on an existing system, process, or idea.

Requires substantial testing using prototyping and multiple rounds of validation with stakeholders and users.

Typically quicker to implement as development and evolution happens continuously.

Generates game-changing improvement in value.

Generate limited value.

Knowing the difference between an innovation and a CPI is not only important to leadership, but it’s also in your best interest as a visionary. Innovations and CPIs often have different avenues of funding and different processes for implementation. The best way to know whether or not you’re creating an innovation or a CPI is to do research into the thing or process you’re trying to improve and discern the nature of your improvement from there.

To download our quick reference guide on Innovations and CPI, check out this download!  


For more information on the differences between innovations and CPI, check out the resources we used linked below!


If you are interested in learning more about our new innovation platform Mobilize VISION, please click on the link to schedule some time with our Chief of Staff, Nicole Haun. 


If you’d like to be a part of the greater innovation conversation, join us for our Innovation Open Mic on August 25, 2021 at 1:00 PM EST –  save your spot today!