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How to create a successful innovation strategy


You most likely already know that you need an innovation strategy. To get you started, here are some important considerations.

There’s no one size fits all approach when creating an innovation strategy, and it’s also impossible for us to fit every possibility into a single guide. 

What is an innovation strategy? 

An innovation strategy creates a structure around the innovation process – a set of behaviours or policies that brings together every part of a business to make innovation happen. 

Your innovation strategy will be completely different to your innovation process. The latter splits innovation into a series of stages that are followed and monitored, from initial idea generation through to the final rollout. An innovation strategy will allow you to link your approach to innovation to the overarching value proposition, vision and mission of your organisation to focus your efforts.  

This link with your business objectives is key. Many businesses fail to tie their innovation strategy to their business goals. This can lead to division between teams, the stifling of ideas, and a lack of coherence when it comes to defining priorities within an organisation.

Looking to improve your innovation management process? Read our full innovation management guide.

How to create an innovation strategy 

There is no one system that fits all companies equally well or works under all circumstances. However, there are a number of steps you can work through to help create the right strategy for your business.

1. Define your goals

Ensure that everyone within the organization has a strong understanding of your business goals - including an understanding of your competitors and their approach, as well as both current and potential future markets in which you wish to operate. Your innovation strategy should also plan for potential future changes of direction and revisions to your business model.

2. Understand both customers and competitors

If your innovation strategy is to succeed, you’ll need to ensure that you understand your target customers and their needs so that you can respond to them as best as possible. You will also need to identify competitors in your market – establishing what they are doing and how your offer will compete.

3. What is your value proposition?

This is simply a statement that details what you will deliver to customers – what they can expect from you – the benefits of choosing your brand, and what you can offer that your competitors can’t.

Your product might be more reliable, more convenient, more durable or easier to use than other products or services on the market. It might have an environmental benefit or a benefit to society.

4. What are your core capabilities?

Once you have defined your proposition, you need to define the capabilities that you need to have in place to achieve your goals.

These could include values, behaviors, skills, knowledge, company culture and R&D. These capabilities might already exist or might need to be developed. It’s important that your innovation strategy details how they will be connected.

5. Which innovation systems and techniques do you need in place?

Innovation will not work without having the right techniques and systems in place. These will serve multiple purposes: not only will they ensure that every element of innovation is linked, but they will also allow you to both execute and measure your innovation effectively.

These might include:

  • Manufacturing, sales, marketing and finance systems
  • Innovation training
  • Company research and development
  • Any systems that are specific to your industry and your route to market

How to ensure your innovation strategy works

There are three key ways in which you can set yourself up for the best possible chance of innovation success:

1. Aligning your innovation strategy with your wider business goals 

When you know what you want your business to achieve overall and what is likely to drive your business forward in the future, your innovation strategy can be leveraged to make it happen. 

2. Creating the right innovation process 

A well-structured innovation process can help you to gain buy-in and input from across the business, allocate budget and resources, understand risk, and establish whether innovation has been successful and given a good return on investment. It will also give innovation more of a sense of purpose, taking it from a vague idea that it would be nice to implement in the future to something more structured and part of business as usual. 

Creating an innovation process involves dividing projects into stages that are carefully defined and managed. Find out how to create a great innnovation process here. 

3. Measuring the impact of innovation 

Finally, you will need to be able to understand how (and indeed, whether at all) your innovation strategy works – and works regularly – or whether it needs refining. A systematic approach to innovation measurement will allow you to track the impact of your efforts, monitoring both your progress and the final outcome.

Looking to put your innovation strategy into practice? A solid innovation management system will make it easier. Find out more about what Acclaim Ideas has to offer.

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