The greatest ideas start off as even better plans. Design a solid innovation strategy to take your best ideas to the next level.
To innovate is to survive.
As an overwhelming 80% of founders believe innovation to be the heart of organizational growth, employing an innovation strategy that promotes, facilitates, and feeds innovation is essential.
Developing a solid plan for facilitating innovation in your organization is a necessary step in your company’s growth. In this article, we’ll discuss the best ways to harness innovation as we explore the following topics:
- The Source of Innovation
- What is an Innovation Strategy?
- Strategizing for Innovation
- Innovating from Within
- A System of Innovation
The Source of Innovation
Innovation often feels like a form of magic: it’s a powerful yet elusive force that drives the best ideas and creates the greatest breakthroughs. While some prefer to wait for inspiration to strike, happenstance is hardly the driving force behind innovation.
The true source of innovation is the organization itself. Leaders must intentionally create systems, processes, and strategies that allow for innovation at every turn.
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Innovation is similar to any other corporate function as it requires careful strategizing to make the best ideas come to life. In doing this, leaders can set the stage and make the most innovative ideas and processes a regular practice in their organization. Ultimately, innovation may appear in the initial spark of a great idea, but it takes purposeful, thoughtful, and conscious planning for a great idea to exist beyond that moment of genius.
What is an Innovation Strategy?
Driving organizational innovation starts with creating an innovation strategy. An innovation strategy identifies processes that allow for the most creative and effective solutions.
The ideal innovation strategy allows an organization to zero in on its audience’s expectations by:
- Identifying customers’ unmet needs
- Targeting these needs for growth
A healthy innovation strategy allows an organization to create the most efficient pathways to resolving these needs and growing its company. Effective strategies for innovation follow a prioritization method to help teams understand which ideas hold the highest return. In creating a solid innovation strategy, leaders must develop a system that can be repeated time and again.
Strategizing for Innovation
From defining your goals to using tech to transform your organization into a hybrid model, the possibilities are endless when it comes to innovation. As you design your innovation strategy, it’s essential to understand the nuances of innovation. Working with an innovation consultant can help you iron out a strategy that’s best for your team. With an expert in innovation, you’ll be able to better determine effective next steps toward the business’s goals.
Consultants are equipped to explain the subtleties in innovative strategizing, such as the various types of innovation:
- Routine Innovation.
Routine innovation is a building block that adds to the company’s pre-existing structure, such as its customer base or earlier versions of a product.
- Disruptive Innovation.
Disruptive innovation results in a new business model that disrupts or challenges the competition’s business models.
- Radical Innovation.
Radical innovation introduces new inventions, software, or technology to completely transform an existing business model. This type of innovation is best used to help organizations achieve a competitive advantage in the market.
- Architectural Innovation.
Architectural innovation uses new technology to create new markets. Essentially, architectural innovation changes the entire overall design of a product by redesigning existing components.
In creating the best innovation strategy for your current needs, take into account the following guidelines:
- Clarifying your goals and priorities.
The right innovation strategy outlines your organizational goals and efforts to identify the best actionable steps to achieve these goals.
- Fostering alignment within your organization.
Alignment should be at the center of any innovation strategy. Everyone must be aligned in pursuing a common goal for an organization to achieve new ideas and an innovative way of working.
- Encouraging your team to keep improving.
Complacency kills innovation. Make sure your company is always ready to move on to the next great idea by making continuous growth and development a key part of your innovation strategy.
- Reaching long-term success.
Focusing on reaching long-term success is an essential part of any innovation strategy.
Innovating From Within
An innovation strategy becomes the most effective when leaders can ingrain the processes and practices into their culture. Once innovation becomes an integral part of how a team works, they’ll be able to keep innovation top-of-mind.
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By innovating from within, you’ll create a sustainable innovation strategy that becomes part of your company culture. Consider these pillars of innovation as you center innovation strategy at the heart of your company:
- Models: Innovation strategies fall into two models:
- Business model innovation
In this process, an organization completely adapts its business model to add value to its customers.
- Leveraging an existing business model
This process allows an organization to use its existing business model while bringing innovation to the business itself.
Intrapreneurship empowers employees to act as entrepreneurs while working within the company. This encourages each person to create and act on their ideas, thus fostering a culture of ongoing company-wide innovation.
- Corporate Accelerator
Corporate accelerators are programs started by larger enterprises, offering aspiring entrepreneurs the opportunity to find mentors, access seed capital, and make important connections.
- Innovation Labs
Innovation labs are a starting point for R&D teams and startups to facilitate new ideas.
- Open Innovation Program
This model of R&D encourages existing employees to collaborate on new business ideas that add value to the company.
- External Accelerators
Though external accelerators don’t meet in-house, they can add incredible value to an organization. Businesses can use external accelerators to advance startups and drive concepts that align with their goals and needs without covering the costs of running an in-house program.
Collaboration is an integral component in shaping a cohesive innovation strategy. Through constant discussion, interaction, and creative collaboration, all members of an organization work together to bring their ideas to life.
Managing innovation requires organizations to manage ideation. In doing so, leaders work to identify the best plans for analyzing, gathering, and implementing the right ideas. Ultimately, companies need an effective system that will transform an idea into a process that gets results.
Innovation strategies should include a plan to measure success by considering relevant metrics for each goal. For example, KPIs such as email subscribers, website traffic, and social shares are excellent metrics for tracking brand awareness.
A System of Innovation
Developing a comprehensive innovation strategy must go beyond general objectives such as achieving growth, creating value, and beating competitors. To truly create company-wide change through innovation, organizations should clearly articulate specific objectives that will allow for the most sustainable competitive advantage.
A thorough innovation strategy successfully embeds innovation in the very system of an organization. To implement such systemic innovation, design your innovation strategy with the following objectives:
- Creating Long-Term Value for Potential Customers
An innovation strategy should always consider the most effective ways to create long-term value for customers. In developing a cohesive strategy, consider the type of value you’re aiming to create through innovation. Value can be created in many ways, including improving customer experience, making a product more affordable, or benefiting society at large.
In your efforts to identify what values to zero in on, consider those that will have the greatest impact in the long term. This way, your innovation strategy will include continuously iterating towards better designs in the future.
- Capturing Value Generated From Innovations
Innovations easily attract competitors that can pose a risk to the original product or idea. In your efforts to create a thorough innovation strategy, consider how your company plans to capture the value its innovations create.
For example, a company that creates an exciting new product should be prepared for its competition to create more affordable prototypes. In the worst-case scenario, the competition may capture the value of the innovation.
Consider these risks in your innovation strategy by identifying what complementary services, products, assets, and capabilities may improve customer loyalty. This way, you’ll already have a plan in place to ensure your organization continues to profit from every innovation.
- Strategizing for Business Model Innovation
Technology plays an important role in innovation but isn’t the only path to new ideas. In developing a robust innovation strategy, consider the level of technology and your preferred method of innovation to pursue.
Harnessing the magic of innovation takes careful planning. Need help driving innovation in your organization? At Voltage Control, we help leaders develop innovative strategies through change! Contact us today to discuss the best path to innovation.