Don't automatically presume the sole enabler behind an innovation strategy is generating new thinking and innovative ideas. That's a significant part of the innovation strategy process, but it's just one part. There's critical work to do before AND after generating new ideas to turn intriguing ideas into true innovation.
As an example, we've been scoping a number of innovation initiatives for a client. Each situation came to us as an innovation strategy challenge. Once we dug into each one, however, the real issues were quite varied, and rarely started with a lack of new ideas.
One initiative was already well conceptualized with little room to tweak the vision. The innovation strategy challenge was detailing the potential implementation steps for the vision in a comprehensive, integrated way.
Another initiative involved addressing how a functional area could participate in transforming the business. While that was part of the core opportunity, the first steps involved identifying significant core business issues demanding new strategies. Additionally, there was a need to identify ways other businesses in comparable and far-flung industries are using this area to transform themselves.
A third initiative tied to new product development depended initially on establishing a more robust understanding of customer needs. And while new products could be one innovation, there are opportunities for important innovation strategy advances in value propositions, support services, and new technology.
A fourth initiative arrived already labeled as needing a quick in-person innovation session. It turned out, however, to be sorely in need of a deep analytical and benchmarking effort before beginning to imagine an innovation strategy to tackles a challenging corporate BHAG.
See what we mean?
All "innovation" initiatives. Each with markedly different innovation strategy barriers or critical enablers to realize its full potential.
There are many potential challenges to a successful innovation strategy beyond needing more new ideas. That's why one of our core innovation workshops, "Taking the No Out of Business Innovation," tackles ways around ten potential organizational innovation strategy barriers.
So the next time somebody says, "We need more innovation," ask, "What EXACTLY do you think that means?"