Strategic Innovation

Effective innovation is not just looking for ideas

Ideas are part of the tactical delivery of an innovation programme but, before tactics can be deployed, a strategic basis for innovation is needed!

Why strategic innovation?

Innovation in established organizations is at a crucial stage of development. Many companies are convinced that innovation is important to their success and have set up innovation programmes. However, while these programmes have yielded some substantial benefits, they are also encountering numerous obstacles. Many leaders in the field have realised that they need a different approach.

The background to this issue is summarised here: ”Organizational Innovation”, which concludes that there is a long way to go before this situation is resolved.

The direction in which leading organizations believe that innovation programmes need to go, as described in the 2020 edition of the survey by Innovation Leader, is towards alignment within an organization’s strategy. In the report, Linda Tong, VP of Innovation at AppDynamics (part of Cisco) says that those leading innovation should be able to explain to teams within the business how their programme “ties back to the core of the business”

So, what is needed?!

What makes innovation strategic?

In general terms, the strategy of an organization is its overall approach to achieving its purpose. A successful strategy is based on a sound understanding of the fields in which it operates and takes into account its circumstances, both internal and external.

Strategic innovation is, broadly, innovation on a strategic basis. That requires the organization’s strategy to include innovation. Those aspects are the role of innovation in achieving its purpose and the organization’s disposition to innovation in its fields of operation. To be effective, these must be based on an understanding of innovation, including what it is and how it happens.

The difficulty for many organizations is that they have little or no strategic basis for their innovation activities. Their activities are generally tactical in nature, focussing mainly on idea generation, and sporadic in timing.

Who benefits from strategic innovation?

The value of clarifying the innovation aspects of the strategy is that:

  • everyone in the organization has a better understanding of the role of innovation and their contributions to successful innovation and therefore to the success of the organization overall
  • those involved in innovation operations can understand the strategic basis, including where to focus their attention and effort, and can implement criteria by which opportunities to innovate are assessed
  • leaders of innovation in the organization can formulate that strategic basis and communicate it to the people who need to know about it and are less likely to come up against internal resistance as they are able to demonstrate clear alignment to the organization’s overall purpose.

Neat Strategy has developed a suite of offerings which enables these three groups within organizations to develop, implement, and effectively communicate a strategic basis for their innovation programmes. If you would like to find out more about Neat Strategy, please contact us here.