Creating an innovation strategy can be a daunting task because the term feels so all-encompassing.
You want to affect change with innovation initiatives big and small, which only adds pressure and makes committing a plan to paper even more intimidating.
Whether you are feeling paralyzed by the challenge of creating an innovation strategy or overwhelmed by the number of ideas coming in, these guidelines will help you organize your thoughts and tackle this task one step at a time.
There are five steps to finalizing your 2019 innovation strategy:
1. Define Your Innovation Goals
First and foremost, you need to define your overarching innovation goals.
This will provide you with a certain amount of direction and help you focus your efforts in the coming year. At this point, you don’t have to worry about how you will get there, you just need to create a clear vision of where you want to be.
Do you want to renew interest in your existing market by improving tried-and-true products and/or services?
Are you looking to scale up your offering by entering new markets?
Is your goal to create entirely new markets that change the way people live and work?
Defining your innovation goals is the first step to achieving them.
2. Choose an Innovation Approach
When it comes to fostering innovation, companies have two options: open innovation and internal innovation.
Businesses can either find new ways to tap into their existing resources or turn to external partners for new ideas and growth.
Both approaches come with their own set of benefits and imply different corporate focuses and priorities. Choosing one approach will allow you to move forward and make deliberate decisions about how time and money are spent.
Open innovation is a decentralized approach based on collaborations with external companies. Essentially, you will seek out vendors that provide the solution your company needs to achieve its desired innovation objectives.
The advantage of this approach is that companies have access to a broader scope of innovation resources that open opportunities while also increasing the pace of innovation for the corporation.
Internal innovation is the exact opposite of open innovation. This approach involves turning inward and relying completely on existing employees and resources for innovation.
Internal innovation can be problematic because it adds innovation to the list of employees’ core responsibilities. Without concrete goals, implementation plans and a dedicated program, innovation becomes another item on the to-do list.
Both approaches to innovation come with their pros and cons. Understanding these differences is crucial to choosing the best strategy that will propel your company ahead of your competitors in an organized way.
3. Map out Your Innovation Projects
This step is where strategic thinking transitions into tactical decision making to prioritize projects for the coming year.
The previous steps will make this process easier and allow you to further hone your innovation strategy.
Consider these examples:
A company looking for ways to improve the customer experience may prioritize the implementation of a customer-facing chatbot; For a company looking to improve internal processes and change the way factories operate across industries, the right innovation project might involve incorporating AI and IoT technologies into their facilities.
Choosing projects and prioritizing them will all you to allocate time and resources smartly throughout the year.
4. Organize Your Proof-of-Concepts (PoC)
Once your projects have been chosen, it is time to invest time into finding the right technology to support your efforts.
With the right tools in place, you will be able to test and evaluate multiple viable solutions and choose the right technology partner for your innovation goals.
For example, the company looking to improve the customer service experience would run a PoC on chatbot technologies to find the ideal solution. The company that wants to transform their manufacturing practices would run PoCs on AI and IoT tools.
Organizing your proof-of-concept efforts helps you understand what steps lay ahead of you to achieve the innovation goals you defined earlier.
5. Plan Your Budget
Lack of budget is one of the most common barriers to corporate innovation.
This step can certainly be challenging, but it is also essential to forming an actionable strategy. Without a written budget proposal, innovation efforts can quickly become derailed.
How you budget your resources is another way of clarifying and supporting priorities, which inevitably makes it easier to meet your goals.
While every company’s budget will look different, the most important thing is to plan your spending intelligently when it comes to the fundamental components of innovation programs, such as PoC efforts.
2019 Can Be Your Year for Corporate Innovation
No matter how daunting a task appears at first glance, breaking it down into essential steps makes it more manageable.
If you are struggling to take the first steps in creating your innovation strategy, use this checklist to create an actionable innovation plan.
With the right tools and a clear strategy, 2019 can be your year for innovation.