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Winning the Innovation Strategy Game

Platforms for Innovation

Ericsson conducted a study to explore this question as it looked to pin down the nuts and bolts of an innovation strategy. In “5 ways to master the new innovation game,” Ericsson identified some broader points that it could leverage as the company developed its own innovation game.

  1. Insight: Understanding people and understanding the problem. A key viewpoint is that innovation is essentially about understanding human beings. The problems that are supposed to be solved by a structured innovation approach are ultimately human, not corporate.
  2. Outsight: Keeping track of the world around us. Innovation not only requires a solid understanding of end users, but it also requires keeping track of how the world at large is changing and which implications this will have on our culture in general, and your area of business specifically.
  3. Innovation vision. We are entering an era where organizations are increasingly driven by missions, and employees are motivated by the unique user value that they can help provide. Successful innovation comes from coming up with ideas that fill real needs and serve a purpose. Open, flat and decentralized organizations with a creative and playful organizational culture also require more visionary leadership.
  4. Culture as fuel for innovation. Culture is a core focus for organizations that aim to be at the forefront in terms of creativity. The old maxim “culture beats strategy” could actually be rephrased as “culture is strategy.” Culture plays a key role in addressing the challenge of gluing teams together and making them committed to the company mission, as well as creating an environment where innovation will thrive.
  5. Structure for creativity. For the longest time there was a bias towards viewing innovation as something that just happens in a “magical” way in a black box of creativity. But now, innovation is often described as a systematic management process and an organizational structure, which enables innovation. Companies should have a defined process for how to drive innovation within the organization, and should be able to measure and follow up on their innovation efforts just like they do in any other department of their business.

Culture Climate

In “Growing a Culture for Business Innovation,” All Things Innovation looked further at how innovation leaders can encourage and create a culture for change, research and development. Whether it entails a large jump or a small step, the innovation pipeline for a business keeps it moving forward through a competitive landscape. Business innovation is an organization’s process for introducing new ideas, workflows, methodologies, services or products. This can create long-term brand loyalty and brand differentiation.

Looking forward to FEI 2024? The conference, which will be held June 10 to 12, will feature a session called, “The Innovation Strategy Game: Establishing An End-To-End Vision,” held by Angelina Carvajal, Strategy and Innovation Partner, Senior Director at United Health Group. A good strategy executive attacks a problem like a scientist, aiming to set a hypothesis by asking questions. What are you innovating for? Answer those questions and a hypothesis can be set. Deliver on that hypothesis and you’re then winning the innovation strategy game. Register for FEI 2024 here.

Master of Innovation

Mastering the innovation strategy game with an end-to-end vision requires a combination of strategic thinking, organizational alignment, and a commitment to fostering a culture of innovation. We asked ChatGPT just what are key steps that agile-oriented leaders and organizations can take to achieve this?

  1. Define Clear Objectives and Goals: Clearly articulate the organization’s overall objectives and how innovation aligns with these goals. Establish specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives for innovation efforts.
  2. Leadership Commitment: Demonstrate strong commitment from top leadership to support and drive innovation initiatives. Communicate the importance of innovation as a strategic priority throughout the organization.
  3. Cultivate a Culture of Innovation: Foster a work environment that encourages creativity, risk-taking, and learning from failure. Recognize and reward innovative thinking and contributions. Encourage collaboration and cross-functional communication to break down silos.
  4. Develop an Innovation Strategy: Create a comprehensive innovation strategy that aligns with the organization’s overall strategy. Identify areas for innovation, whether in products, services, processes, or business models. Consider partnering with external organizations, startups, or research institutions to enhance innovation capabilities.
  5. Invest in Research and Development: Allocate resources and budget for research and development activities. Stay informed about industry trends, emerging technologies, and market opportunities.
  6. Implement a Stage-Gate Process: Establish a structured stage-gate process to evaluate and prioritize innovation projects. Regularly review and assess the progress of projects at each stage, making data-driven decisions.
  7. Encourage Cross-Functional Collaboration: Foster collaboration between different departments and teams to bring diverse perspectives to the innovation process. Break down barriers that may impede communication and idea-sharing.
  8. Embrace Open Innovation: Look beyond internal capabilities and seek external input and collaboration. Engage with customers, partners, and the broader ecosystem to gather insights and ideas.
  9. Invest in Talent and Skills: Hire and develop employees with diverse skill sets and backgrounds. Provide training and development opportunities to enhance the innovation capabilities of the workforce.
  10. Measure and Iterate: Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of innovation initiatives. Regularly review and analyze results, and be willing to iterate and pivot based on feedback and outcomes.

Sharpen Your Vision

Staying agile and willing to adapt the innovation strategy based on changing market conditions and feedback is also key. Learn from both successes and failures to continuously improve the innovation process. Strive for human-centricity as you structure your innovation initiatives. By integrating these steps into their approach, leaders and organizations can enhance their ability to master the innovation strategy game with a comprehensive end-to-end vision.

Video courtesy of Professor Melissa Schilling

Contributor

  • Matt Kramer

    Matthew Kramer is the Digital Editor for All Things Insights & All Things Innovation. He has over 20 years of experience working in publishing and media companies, on a variety of business-to-business publications, websites and trade shows.

 
 

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