People often ask when is the best time to innovate: early in the pipeline process, middle, or late. Teams tend to resist innovation late in the process when they are busy launching a new product. Teams tend to resist innovating in the middle of the NPD process because they are too busy developing the next generation product. Teams tend to resist innovating early in the process because they are too busy developing franchise strategy. So when is the best time to innovate? Anytime.
How do you tie innovation to strategy? Professor Christie Nordhielm from the University of Michigan has developed what I consider the best single contribution to marketing thought since the 4P's. Her Big Picture framework of the marketing management process provides the context for innovating across the entire business model. Applying systematic innovation tools to each aspect of her Big Picture model can yield amazing insights at both the strategic and tactical levels of the business. It is the intersection of these two ideas...Big Picture Strategy and Systematic Inventive Thinking...that will yield consistent, profitable results. Innovation follows strategy...not the other way around.
Innovation that is linked to strategy is seen as more realistic and supportable. Innovating is efficient because you avoid creating ideas that are out of scope. Firms struggle with this as Idris Mootee observed in his blog, Innovation Playground:
"The most amazing thing with strategic experience innovation is that it takes one kind of company and leadership to create the idea and another kind of company to scale it up and drive industry transformation and we see it in markets after market."
Andrew Hinton offered this insight on his blog, Inkblut:
"We hear the words Strategy and Innovation thrown around a lot, and often we hear them said together. “We need an innovation strategy.” Or perhaps “We need a more innovative strategy” which, of course, is a different animal. But I don’t hear people questioning much exactly what we mean when we say these things. It’s as if we all agree already on what we mean by strategy and innovation, and that they just fit together automatically."
There are two approaches to linking innovation and strategy: Strategy-Informs-Innovation and Innovation-Informs-Strategy. Here is how:
An innovative corporate culture is one that supports the creation of new ideas and the implementation of those ideas. Leaders need to help employees see innovation in the right light. The most innovative companies do the following:
How do you know if someone is truly innovative? I look for three things. First, does the person have a cognitive process for generating new ideas? Innovation is a skill, not a gift. It can trained and learned like any other skill. So I expect successful innovators to have such training and be able to deploy ideation methods - on demand.
Second, is the person motivated and hopeful about the future? Hope is defined as a positive motivational belief in one's future; the feeling that what is wanted can be had; that events will turn out for the best. Research shows that an employee's sense of hope explains their creative output at work. Hope predicts creativity.
Third, and perhaps most elusive: do they have the innovation senses to know how their efforts will succeed? I call these the Five Senses of Innovation.
In Innovating Out of Crisis, How Fujifilm Survived (and Thrived) As Its Core Business Was Vanishing, published by Stone Bridge Press, Berkeley, California, Shigetaka Komori, FUJIFILM Holdings Corporation Chairman and CEO, recounts how he was inspired to lead Fujifilm’s journey from the brink of extinction to its current path of prosperity and growth – and a new direction.
How does a company cope with change? It’s a question that looms large for many executives who are struggling to keep up with the breakneck pace of business. Those who fail to answer it may face loss of market share, or, in extreme cases, financial ruin. All too often, companies respond to these pressures by fixating on the future, not realizing that their greatest strength could be hidden in their past.