Here are 5 things that we believe make up a good innovation strategy:
First, an innovation strategy needs to be truly inspiring and should describe a desirable future state for the company or brand. Books tell us that the innovation strategy should cascade from the corporate strategy, which isn’t entirely wrong, but what about if the opportunities and possibilities formulated from the innovation strategy actually provide input and help to shape the overall corporate strategy? Try not to think of innovation strategy as a linear exercise.
Ensure the innovation strategy is ambitious and allows you to break away from the competition and create new spaces. Too many innovation strategies that we have seen tend to be “me too”. Your innovation strategy should aim higher and help the company out-pace anyone else in that space. If the so-called strategy does not push those boundaries, then the strategy is probably just a product road map of line extensions, not an innovation strategy.
The process of developing the strategy needs to be open. Bring the outside world in. There are so many unearthed insights that may not exist within your company’s current boundaries – scout them out and accept that you will need to look in places that don’t seem typical or appropriate at the time.
Write your strategy in the present. Ground it in the reality of your company’s environment, and ensure it reflects the available capabilities and also the gaps to be filled. Essentially, you will want to identify platforms/ ideas that are ‘quick wins’ and those that are longer-term, where investment in resources and time will be required. A healthy innovation strategy has a good balance of both, and it is certainly possible to create category-breaking ‘quick wins’, despite industry myth.
Do not set your innovation strategy in stone. It is critical that you adapt and evolve it over time. You will be constantly learning and uncovering new insight, and your competitors will be forever raising and changing their games. Change course and cut your losses if required. It may mean you end up moving in multiple directions to achieve the aspiration you set at the beginning. Accept that innovation is unpredictable and it may take more time than originally estimated, but the rewards of getting it really right are worth it.