Definition of Change in Kind

What Is a Change in Kind?

Change in kind is a qualitative form of change or difference. This form of change stands in strong contrast to change in degree. It is not an improvement but significantly – qualitatively different. Change in kind involves a discontinuity with other things. In everyday speech we often refer to this with the analogy: “you cannot compare apples to oranges”.

Another way to think of this form of difference is that it is a “difference that makes a difference” (G. Bateson).

Qualitites of change in kind

How Does Change in Kind in Creative Processes Work?

When a change in kind is novel it is something that is radically and disruptively new. It is giving rise to a novel world and not simple a discreet novel thing. This form of novelty cannot be understood based upon what is known. This means that techniques such as ideation and imagination are not helpful as they fundamentally rely on the known. Many of the most popular current methods for innovation (such as Design Thinking) in that they begin or focus on ideation are not helpful for creative practices that are seeking to make something qualitatively new emerge. The techniques that lead to a novel change in kind are directly experimental, and involve blocking, exaptations and feedforward logics.

Example of Change in Kind

An example of a change in kind is horses to cars – this was a novel shift in worlds – from animal powered transportation, to combustion engines (an entirely new and different world.).

The Innovation Design Approach is a good example of a framework to generate a change in kind.

See: Change, Difference, Change in Degree, World Making, Innovation Design Approach, Exaptation, Feedforward, Blocking

on What Is Innovation, and How to Innovate

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