Missed the radical innovation boat? Then why bother?


Missed the radical innovation boat? Then why bother?



Innovation strategy

Most innovation strategies are heavily biased towards short-term, incremental innovation goals. It is indeed a common perception that this happens only because people are obsessed with short-term goals and metrics and ‘can’t see the forest for the trees’.

However, many executives report that a key reason their organisation has not embarked on a robust, strategic (and significant) approach to longer-term, more radical innovation, is that the organisation has ‘already missed those boats’ and that the best thing to do is focus on the now – you know, ‘pick the low hanging fruit’ and worry about the future, well, in the future. Statements like, “We’re not Tesla and we never will be” are increasingly being used to avoid taking a serious approach to dealing with impending disruption, or rapidly evolving customer behaviours, or the patently obvious need to develop entirely new value propositions for the future, or anything else that feels like it will take a long time with no guarantees of calculable returns, right now.

If that resembles some of the rhetoric in your organisation, here’s a relevant Chinese proverb:
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Of course, best-practice innovation methods can be utilized to create and capture more value from the current organisational structures, business models and marketplaces or eco-systems in which the organisation exists. But high quality innovation strategies are always balanced.

The balance

If you want to do things like: deal with the threat of disruption, create disruption yourself, create entirely new ways in which the organisation will create and capture value, adapt to trends which are yet to emerge in their entirety, the list of radical, game-changing endeavours goes on, then that will require some forward thinking and planning. You’ll need a balanced innovation strategy.

Innovation strategies should always be developed to include clear areas for focus on both squeezing more out of what currently exists, and critically, also developing ways in which the organisation will create and capture value in entirely new ways in the future.

Yes, the world is changing quickly. Yes, it might seem like it is changing more quickly than your organisation is changing, however, the best response to that isn’t to become myopic in your approach to innovation! It is to develop (and execute) an innovation strategy which is truly balanced.

Obviously, developing a high-quality innovation strategy is a complex and multi-faceted task (it’s a little too complex to dive into too deeply in a Cuttlebutt article!). However, to at least get you started on how you might think about the “entirely new ways in the future” stuff…

Here are some simple steps

  1. Gather comprehensive insights on:
  • The competitive environment, including
    • Market forces
    • External forces
    • Competitors
    • Competitor core competencies
    • Disruption/Disruptors
    • Organisational core competencies
    • Technological knowledge
    • Complementors
  • Technologies, including
    • Emerging technologies
    • Knowledge availability
    • Complementary technologies
  • Trends, including
    • Market
    • Customer
    • Broader, general trends
  • There are many more areas but this will give you a good start!
  1. Summarize your key insights for each category
  2. Create some stimulus for each these insight summaries (Use tools like Trends Lens and The Probe – contact us if you would like some info on these tools)
  3. Armed with all of your stimulus, and your organisation’s broader strategy or competitive strategy, get some key people together and ask: “Where, realistically, could we focus?”
  4. Use your insight stimulus (not your pre-conceived notions and ideas) to generate outputs and remember that your output at this stage is an area for focus, not a business plan!

If you’d like to find out more about innovation strategy development, I’d love to hear from you mark@orangesquid.com.au I really do love talking about this stuff and I’m always more than happy to discuss it further over a coffee!

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