Understanding innovations and why it is fundamental to innovate is one thing. Yet, those points still don’t guarantee success. The innovation process is a structural process and must not be confused with creativity and other similar activities. Innovation must be approached in a systematic way, with clear goals and objectives. That’s why it is important to create/define an innovation strategy that will guide you throughout the entire innovation process and, simultaneously, make sure that what you are doing is in line with your business strategy.
Why is it important to create an innovation strategy?
Innovation strategy is not a business strategy, but it is its part and should be in sync with it. So when creating it, you should make sure that it doesn’t oppose the goals of your business strategy. A clear innovation strategy helps avoid conflict between different sectors, and helps attain a coherent innovation culture. It serves as a guideline for everyone engaged in the innovation process and advances the achieving of specific innovational goals that have been set. A well-defined innovation strategy lowers the risk of setting conflicted priorities, therefore allowing you to focus your attention on the most important aspects of the innovation process.
These are some of the key points you should pay attention to when creating your own innovation strategy:
Before you start making any plans, it is important to do some digging. Do a full analysis, internal and external so you can get a full picture of your standpoint. One of the most commonly used techniques in strategic management is the SWOT analysis that helps you scan your organization as well as the environment, and identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This is also helpful when creating an innovation strategy. Another one is Benchmarking which is a useful tool that provides the ability to learn and change behavior based on comparison with market leaders.
What you should also investigate are the customers and their needs. You should look for those segments that have been overlooked by your competition and the needs that have been unmet. Although sometimes small, these segments can be quite profitable. Also, you should look for those segments which needs aren’t met in the most adequate way. Your job is to identify these gaps in the market and bridge them.
These techniques and tools give you vital insight about your innovation potential. They also help you identify the main and subsidiary trends, and what possible courses they might take in the future so that you can plan ahead.
There is no universal innovation strategy that could be applied to every business. Just because it works for some businesses, it does not mean that it will bring you success. You can always look at other strategies for ideas, but have in mind that your innovation strategy must be unique and in sync with your own goals. When defining goals in your innovation strategy it is useful to follow the SMART principle. Your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. This will provide you guidance and reduce the risk of defining wrong goals. It will also make it easier for you to track the progress and see if there are any digressions or inconsistencies.
Although precise goals mean less confusion and make it clear what needs to be done, that still leaves the room for some flexibility. Some things are just impossible to predict, and things don’t always go the way which is strictly predicted. That is why it is always ok to leave some room for possible adjustments along the way.
Once you have set your goals, it will be easier to determine what activities, measures and resources you will need in order to maximize their realization. It will also be easier for you to decide, after considering alternatives, which alternative is the right choice for you. These decisions can be about resources, workforce, or whatever kind of innovations you would like to have ‒ whether it is improvement of existing products or services or completely new categories; incorporating technical innovations or focusing more on innovation opportunities concerning your existing business model.
Ambidextrous approach is quite a useful approach when it comes to creating a strategy. Due to the fact that most businesses are part of a diverse and dynamic environment, it is almost impossible to have one approach that will work under all circumstances. It is necessary to be adaptable. This approach will allow you to easily mix and match different types of innovations and incorporate them into your innovation strategy. It allows you to work on smaller improvements while at the same time working on breakthroughs. The innovation strategy like any other strategy needs to be rigid to a certain extent and follow a specific set of rules and policies while, at the same time, it has to be flexible and allow the innovation process to flourish to its full potential.
The innovation process is a strenuous process with lots of ups and downs. When creating your innovation strategy make sure you include the right people with the right set of skills. Different perspectives will improve a good innovation strategy. The partner that is gaining its popularity in the innovation process is Crowdsourcing. You can always turn to your customers during the ideation process and ask for their valuable ideas and feedback, and incorporate this way of gathering ideas in your innovation strategy, as well.
With the rise of technology, you have at your disposal many platforms that will guide you throughout your whole innovation process and make sure that you execute your innovation strategy in the right way. With years of experience in the field of innovations, Innovation Cloud is certainly your best potential partner. Its unique software solution and expert consultants will make sure that you create and successfully execute your innovation strategy, and become an innovation expert yourself!