It seems like every organization has a vision and a mission statement, and some even have mantra’s. My personal innovation mantra is to make innovation and marketing insights accessible for the greater good.
At the same time organizations are creating their mission statement, many take the time to create an organizational strategy, only to then neglect the creation of an innovation strategy.
I believe that every organization should create an innovation strategy with the same diligence and precision that they attempt to create their organizational strategy with. Has your organization created an innovation strategy?
An innovation strategy, what’s that?
An innovation strategy sets the innovation direction for an organization. It gives members of the organization an idea of what new achievements and directions will best benefit the organization when it comes to innovation. As with organizational strategy, innovation strategy must determine WHAT the organization should focus on (and WHAT NOT to) so that tactics can be developed for HOW to get there.
There are two main kinds of innovation – directed innovation (or intellectual innovation) and emergent innovation (or instinctual innovation). An innovation strategy benefits both types. An innovation strategy provides the contraints that the organization’s directed innovation needs, while also providing the focus that helps emergent innovation, well, emerge over time as members refer back to the innovation strategy.
Best practices indicate that innovation succeeds best when it is constrained. But for some people, it doesn’t make sense that innovation needs to be constrained. – “Don’t great ideas come from giving people free reign?”
The short answer is no. By giving people constraints, it actually sets their creativity free, but in a directed fashion.
A well-defined innovation strategy helps the organization define which innovation challenges to focus on and what tactics will best help the organization overcome those challenges. An innovation strategy provides a map to refer back to as projects and ideas are being evaluated.
An innovation strategy should communicate to the organization the kinds of innovation that will be most valuable to the organization in helping it achieve its corporate strategy. It is best practice for an innovation strategy to support the organizational strategy.
Without an innovation strategy, an organization can find itself pulled in many different directions, dissipating its innovation energy and preventing it from accelerating its innovation pace by combining the outcomes of strategically-related innovation efforts.
Finally, even those organizations that have successfully created an innovation strategy, often miss the most important part – to communicate it out very clearly to all members of the organization, so that members know exactly what the innovation strategy is and precisely how to contribute. If you’ve done a good job of this, you won’t be afraid to ask your members the following question – What is our innovation strategy?
Are you afraid?
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I think Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsille should have read this before they started patting themselves on the back at RIM all those years ago.