British financier James Goldsmith said, “If you see a bandwagon, it’s too late” meaning that in the marketplace it’s more profitable to lead instead of to follow the crowd. You lead, of course, through innovation. An Innovation Strategy is about beating the Competition and to beat the competition means you must provide radically better value in both your products and services. Most organizations invest time into an annual planning process but often takes few risks, and have few new ideas. We must think strategically and even when our plan is created, we must have a plan that can be changed. Sun Tzu said in The Art of War: “No battle plan ever surveys first contact with the enemy.”  

The new Innovation Management Standard ISO 56002 takes you into Innovation Strategy.  You can learn more about the new ISO 56002 standard here.

The Market Challenge

The perfect business strategy is to find a market place where there is no competition and this means creating an offering that is unique and no one can copy. Innovation is driven by Unmet Customer Need, not by Technology but the Customer thinks of today's needs not tomorrow's. Strategic changes such as legislation, technology, and foreign competition affect your customer. Failing product or shrinking market are your customers verdict on your offering.

The Forces

Your strategic plan must address both external and internal forces. The external forces influence market need and opportunity. The internal forces influence the ability to address that external opportunity and these are issues such as culture, competence and business performance.

The Answer

Listen to what are mavericks saying to you. Ask what new technologies are games changers. The tool for identifying these macro effects is the ‘environmental scan’. Learn and your customer will respect your knowledge and then be more willing to share their own ‘pain’. Once we have collected the data, we need to make forward strategy decisions based on business need and business capability. Strategists develop a portfolio of short, medium and long-term projects.

Strategy Issues

Partnering is a critical aspect of strategy. You don’t know everything, and you can’t do everything. Ask yourself, “Where are my organization’s skill shortages, and how can I address them?” Look for partners who are short on your own particular strengths. In the early stages of your strategy you will need to allow time and space for creativity and this may mean ‘behaving differently’ from the way your organization does at present. Chance is you will also need culture change (see the page Innovation Culture for more on this). Competition can copy an idea, but it takes much longer for them to copy culture and competencies. These are what give you the competitive edge.

Fail Early

As new knowledge is gained, new opportunities are found while at the same time what we thought was a good idea turns out to be impracticable. The strategy must include the criteria for killing a project. A popular maxim for innovators is, “Fail early.” In addition, competitive advantage is transient. This underlines the need for you to evaluate your threats and opportunities continually in this fast-changing world.

What will I gain?

The most Innovative companies are the most profitable. Giving people the opportunity to be more creative engages them and you beat the competition!

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What can I do next?

The Innovation Project Plan will give you more detail on strategy deployment.

An 56002 Gap Analysis will give you the detail of the issues you need to address.