Innovate for Strategic Gains

Innovate for Strategic Gains
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When it comes to innovation, it’s not just about a major technology breakthrough or giant paradigm shift!  More often than not, it’s about shifting mindset and performing sound strategic thinking. At the strategic level, it’s about taking a holistic and high level view and thinking about direction, and all the factors that influence direction.  It’s about daring to recognize where you are, but also to think as if nothing was there to constrain you…and then to marry the two. Innovation is as much about disciplined and systematic thinking as it is about creativity and open-mindedness.  This article explores how to get into that strategic innovation mindset.

This is the first of a series of four articles on “Innovation”, where we explore how to innovate at various levels and in different domains.  This article, Part 1 in the series, “Innovate for Strategic Gains”, looks at how to get into the right mindset to innovate at the strategic level.  Part 2, “Innovate for Tactical Improvements,” looks at how to innovate while focused on implementing at the tactical level. Part 3, “Innovate for Incremental Benefits,” raises the idea that innovation is not just done up front, but can effectively transform projects in the execution phase.  Finally, Part 4, “Innovate to Increase Personal Effectiveness”, encourages you to apply innovation in a number of ways related to our most important resources, people!  

Here are four key areas to think about to get into the right frame of mind for strategic innovation.  They overlap, or affect one another, so you will likely need to go through them two or three times until you feel you are reaching a stable consensus.

  1. What do your customers want?  Think broadly…about what they want now, but also what they might want in the future.  In addition, think about potential customers – about others you’re your organization might serve in the future if you positioned your offerings, or company, differently.
  2. Is your product or service position sustainable?  What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and threats (do a SWOT analysis).  What and who you are competing against (do a SWOT analysis on your competitors)?  
  3. What macro forces are at work?  Think in terms of all external factors that might affect your company.  This includes trends of regional, political, economic, generational, and cultural nature. Where have things been, where are they now, and where are they going…and how does that affect your company?
  4. What regulatory forces are at work?  What regulations are in force right now, and what is their effect?  How are they likely to change and when? Will any regulations be eliminated, and will any be added?  Are there adjacent areas where regulations might spill over and affect your domain?

The key to shifting to a mindset where you can perform strategic innovation is to start asking and answering the right question.  It’s best to start with the basics, and then see where it takes you. Broad participation is key.

Is your organizational management team in the right mindset to perform strategic innovation?

This Article is Part of the Series: Innovation

These articles explore how to innovate at various levels and in different domains.

  1. Innovate for Strategic Gains
  2. Innovate for Tactile Improvements
  3. Innovate for Incremental Benefits
  4. Innovate to Increase Personal Effectiveness