We have just launched the most comprehensive guide to innovation: download it today!


The 4 waves of Industrial Revolution

This ground-breaking model outlines the four waves of industrial and cultural revolution that human civilization has undergone over its history, breaking down the most critical factors for each period.

Clear visual representation of the entire history of human civilization with an emphasis on cultural, technological and organizational development

Helps you understand the interconnected nature of industry and culture

Allows you to understand what has happened, what is happening in our world today, and offers a glimpse into the future

What the download contains

  • The 4 waves of Industrial Revolution
  • Examples of exponentially accelerating change, helping you understand why the life expectancy of S&P 500 companies is decreasing
  • The UNITE Business Model Environment Canvas, allowing you to strategically assess the emerging trends and disruptive forces that affect your business model and organizatoin
  • Overview of the entire UNITE Business Model Framework, helping you understand the role of the Business Model Environment Canvas in context
What People Are Saying

Why we use it:

We are far beyond what we think of as the Industrial Revolution, in fact we are in the midst of a third wave, an information revolution. Regardless of your sector, it is impossible to ignore the power of data and digital technologies. This model helps you see the ways in which cultural and industrial revolutions have shaped our societies over time. It also helps you understand the interconnected nature of industry and culture and provides a glimpse into what may lay ahead of us.


Human development has proceeded in a series of waves that we call cradle, agrarian, industrial, informational, and integrated. Of course, like a wave, a change in the mode of value creation doesn’t alter everything at the snap of a finger. In fact, all of the waves coexist right now across the world, sometimes even within the same society or business. For the purposes of analysis, however, we can divide them into somewhat distinct periods.

Often, changes in human organization are driven by new technologies. For instance, humans developed the ability to grow crops and raise livestock, sparking the agrarian revolution. Then they harnessed the power of fossil fuels with the steam engine and electric generator, sparking the industrial revolution. As each of these technological changes happened, however, it led to deeper changes in how we saw ourselves and the world around us, creating new movements in thought, politics, economics and culture. We also developed new values and new goals.

In the last 50 years, we have moved from a world powered by fossil fuel to a world powered by information. This information revolution has increased the rate of acceleration; it is now happening at breakneck speed. And yet, from a cultural perspective, people are beginning to realize that the demarcation between self and collective is false. As we move into an integrated world, we see these differences fall away, and we envision an economy and society that integrates the needs of the individual with the needs of society and of the planet.

What is the goal of the model?

Changing your mindset: The tools, technologies and approaches that worked 20 or even 10 years ago, will no longer ensure future success. Understanding the ways in which industry, business and culture has evolved helps you understand that change is the only constant. The 4 Waves of Industrial Revolution helps you envision a different path for your company, a path of innovation.



Related tools
& models

The following tools and models support the one you are exploring. If you’re ready to go further, check them out. Download the models below and continue your journey …

Related tools & models


The following tools and models support the one you are exploring. If you’re ready to go further, check them out., download the models below and continue your journey …


Related categories

Explore the other models in the category you started with or take a look at these related categories. There is no right way to use these tools. Follow the path that works best for you and your team.

Looking for more in-depth explanation? Sign up for our wait
list and we will let you know as soon as the book is ready for download.

The Origin of this Model:
» How to Create Innovation «

How to Create Innovation is a practical, comprehensive, OpenSource guide for successful corporate innovation. The UNITE initiative and movement, spearheaded by Stefan F. Dieffenbacher and Caroline Hüttinger and supported by a diverse team of industry leaders and innovation researchers, aims to spark a revolution in global innovation and transformation.


How to CREATE INNOVATION is a workbook for students, innovators, designers, and government and corporate leaders who appreciate and are curious about emerging technologies and the accelerating pace of innovation. It challenges the status quo and supports the development of the mindset, beliefs and strategies necessary for the next stage of business evolution. Leverage the UNITE innovation framework to conceptualize and build the future of your business.

Benefit from Digital
Leaderships’ experience

Digital Leadership is a strategy-execution firm built on strong and innovative values. We support our customers in strategizing, building and securing their future through the creation of fully digitally enabled, and extraordinarily successful, products and businesses. Our agile, lean, fast-track business setup, coupled with access to an extensive pool of highly specialized and trusted resources (customized for each customer’s journey), allows for ideating and building in an effective and meaningful way.

Shared goals are the cornerstone of our customer approach. To date, our team has successfully led 74 projects with numerous global players across all industry sectors, ranging from $50,000 projects to $100 million ones. But helping our customers’ build their futures is not enough. We are committed to changing the world through the sharing of powerful innovation and transformation practices. Join the UNITE movement and help us start an innovation revolution.
Stefan F. Dieffenbacher
Founder & Managing Director of Digital Leadership

»We build digital winners.
It's what we are made for. Let's create winning digital businesses – together. And, at the same time, let’s create a world worth living in.«


Select your currency
EUR Euro
USD United States (US) dollar