As most businesses are beginning to discover, innovation is key to maintaining relevance in a landscape that’s moving quicker than many of us can keep up with. And it’s safe to say that these businesses are also starting to discover that innovation can’t be approached randomly!
As a key decision maker in your company, it’s up to you to develop an innovation strategy that keeps your business innovation on the right track; that identities the most important opportunities for your organisation, and drives the sort of change that’s going to help you grab these opportunities.
And by now, you probably already know that all eyes are on you. They always are when you set out to do something different. It’s natural. But it does mean you’re under a lot of pressure to deliver real, tangible results. That’s why it’s worth making the effort to do it in the right way.
There are three critical steps to building an impactful business innovation strategy:
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start by taking a deep dive into the first step - structuring - exploring the four essential things you need to know about developing your strategy:
1. A Good Strategy is Shaped by Business Goals
Got a ton of ideas floating around your head? Great! But the truth of the matter is that you can’t carry business innovation alone. You need to have the support of key players in your organisation, and for that to happen you need ideas that are going to excite everyone.
A business innovation strategy can’t be shaped by ideas alone. It must be shaped by your overall corporate goals, aligning innovation with business objectives to get the attention of the powerful board-level execs that are going to make it all possible. Develop your strategy in a way that builds and nurtures a close connection between new developments and the short and long term vision of the business, and will help to drive the company towards its targets.
When you’ve got an idea in your head about what business innovation will look like for you, it’s incredibly easy to develop tunnel vision: to focus on the innovation, and the innovation alone. But it’s important that your strategy takes a broader approach, looking beyond specific ideas.
Why? Because business innovation isn’t the end of the story. We don’t innovate for the sake of it; we do it to bring some sort of value to the organisation. And that’s what a good strategy should focus on: value. What value will business innovation bring? How will it help you to stand out from the competition? Have you got the core capabilities to deliver this value? Do you know how to implement innovation in the workforce? Without considering value, you risk investing in ideas that don’t do anything to elevate your business.
With some types of business innovation, like product innovation, the customer is clearly at the heart of the change. However, with something like organisational innovation, it’s easy to put the customer in the backseat. But understanding the customer is key to building your strategy and fostering a fruitful innovative mindset.
When the time is taken to assess, analyse, and understand customer needs, you can build strong insights that help you to see where you should focus your business innovation strategy. No matter what sort of innovation you’re planning, your customers matter. Every customer has different needs, and if you’re unable to fulfil these needs in one way or another, you risk losing them. A good innovation strategy is organised in a way that ensures that doesn’t happen.
… and that’s OK! In fact, it’s expected. One of the most important things to know about developing a business innovation strategy is that there’s a lot of trial and error involved. There’s not a business out there that hasn’t had to reassess and adjust at some point along the way in order to create an innovation process that actually works.
So, it’s really important that your business innovation strategy is built in a way that’s both flexible and scalable. If it’s not, business growth and development can quickly become stagnant as you may not be able to adapt as needed to changes across the industry, and in customer behaviours, or develop new innovations at the speed required to rapidly meet demand. A business development strategy isn’t a onetime thing; it needs to be kept up-to-date.
Is there a lot that goes into developing a good business innovation strategy? There can be. So is it all worth it? Well ask yourself this: When you’re knee deep in innovation, can you really afford to be pausing constantly to evaluate if you’re still on the right track? If you’re still doing the right things? If you’re still hearing the right signals? No. You won’t be able to move quickly.
By putting the effort in during the initial planning stages, you’re generating a roadmap that will guide you through the business innovation process, helping you to not only innovate quickly, but to innovate in a way that drives real, tangible results that will set your organisation apart.