When the chips are down, all innovation centres on translating an idea into action. And whether it’s blue-sky, radical innovation, an innovative improvement or a business model innovation, having an innovation strategy is crucial. But if your innovation strategy remains a desktop exercise and you never put it into practice, your R&D and business goals could stall. So, we’re revisiting what an innovation strategy is and exploring the best ways to deliver it.
Setting a strategy for success
In a nutshell, your innovation strategy is your company’s guiding light. It sets out your company’s innovation goals and the guidelines you’ll follow to achieve them.
What an innovation strategy does
A good innovation strategy aligns with your overall business strategy. It will either pinpoint the innovative offerings your company is going to create, or current products or services your business will enhance through innovation.
An effective innovation strategy will help your business stay focused, hit its targets and leverage its R&D successfully. It will help you avoid wasteful investments in non-core innovation or distracting pet projects. Your business will be savvier with its capital and have the best chance of accelerating into the market ahead of your competitors. If you haven’t crafted an innovation strategy for your business yet, it’s never too late to get started.
Simple steps to build your innovation strategy
The Strategy Choice Cascade is the approach of choice for many innovation strategy specialists. The easy-to-follow, five-step system is an effective way for your company to develop a suitable innovation strategy for the type of innovation you’re pursuing. And it also lays the foundations you’ll need to deliver your innovation strategy once you’ve formulated it. For more information read our article, Create a winning innovation strategy for your business.
Deliver your innovation strategy
So, you’ve developed an innovation strategy, now what? Successful innovation doesn’t happen on its own. It requires effort by you and your team to deliver its promise. And according to BCG, only 30 per cent of organisations think that they’re good at innovation. To bridge this capability gap, we recommend considering the different stages your innovation will need to move through in order to succeed. That way you can tailor your delivery actions accordingly and optimise your strategy rollout.
These innovation stages are:
- Idea generation and mobilisation
- Advocacy and screening
- Buy-in and implementation
- Measurement, evaluation and improvement
Idea generation and mobilisation
Producing new ideas is your first step towards delivering your innovation strategy. The need to be competitive is a key driver. And that’s where ensuring you keep your eye on the prize and stay focused on your business strategy is crucial. But you and your team need to build in some flexibility, creativity and freedom to explore because that’s where the magic can happen. So, it’s a balancing act. You want to be able to respond and seize opportunities from market shifts and sudden changes to the business landscape, for example, a pandemic.
Once you’ve dreamed up your new concept, it’s crucial to generate momentum and turn your idea into action. No individual has all the skills required to commercialise an innovation. So, it’s crucial to engage early on with people who have the skill sets to build and market a new concept. This could mean getting a co-founder or engaging external agencies or advisers. Failure to do so could delay or even sabotage your strategy because you will lack the solid foundation to progress your innovation process effectively.
Strategy delivery tip #1: Maintain a focused, yet agile mindset and build your team
Advocacy and screening
No one wants to be told their baby is ugly, and have their idea thrown out. So, this is the stage where things can get tricky. But it doesn’t have to. The trick is to advocate for every idea. Consider the potential upsides and downsides of each innovation. Make sure you and your team go out of your way to take a measured, consistent and transparent approach. Avoid knee-jerk reactions and acting on gut instincts rather than data and other evidence. Ultimately, ideas that pass the advocacy and screening phase must also align with your business strategy and the innovation type your company is targeting with your innovation strategy.
Strategy delivery tip #2: Assess ideas objectively and ensure they have a strategic fit
Once you hit the experimental phase, things are hotting up. From the outset communicating with your team and your stakeholders is a priority through all stages of the innovation journey. But inadequate communication during the experimentation phase could seriously dent the delivery of your innovation strategy. So, if communication wasn’t a major focus, make sure it is from now onwards.
As the name suggests, the experimentation stage examines how sustainable an idea is for your organisation. Elements such as timing and external environmental factors are key variables that are assessed alongside the idea. This is the time when your business works out who your customer will be and how they will use your invention. It’s during experimentation that companies can come to the unfortunate conclusion that an idea is ahead of its time or isn’t viable. If that happens to your business, try not to see your idea as a flop. It could serve as the spark for other ideas in the future.
Strategy delivery tip #3: Communicate your innovation strategy constantly to your team and learn from your mistakes.
It’s during the commercial phase that you and your team will need to work more closely with your customers. Consider taking a test-and-learn approach to work out whether your innovation solves a problem effectively and adds intrinsic value. At this juncture, it’s crucial to start crunching some serious numbers too. You need to know what the costs and benefits would be if your organisation rolled out the innovation. Don’t move past this phase until you know whether you will be able to market your innovation, sell it and turn a profit.
Strategy delivery tip #4: Confirm if innovation adds intrinsic value for customers and whether you can market it and make money.
Buy-in and implementation
These two elements of buy-in and implementation go hand-in-hand and must occur in tandem if your innovation is to succeed. Buy-in involves getting all your stakeholders on board and excited about launching your product or service innovation. Investors, and most crucially your team, and external parties, such as regulators and the media and your early adopter customers are the stakeholders you need to communicate with as you move towards launching your product. When it comes to your team and any external adviser, make sure you set them goals and milestones, so you get your product into the market as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
Strategy delivery tip #5: Focus on stakeholder communication and goal setting for your team ahead of your product launch.
Measurement, evaluation and improvement
As W. Edwards Deming, a leader in the field of quality improvement said, ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.’ This is certainly the case with your innovation strategy. It’s essential to create an evaluation process to track your innovation and gather insights on how it could improve. Start by considering your innovation and business goals and the type of innovation you’re pursuing as part of your strategy. Then identify the most relevant metrics to track for your circumstances and measure and evaluate your findings regularly. Once you’re armed with relevant data and insights, you can funnel the information back to your researchers to improve your offering as you begin to scale up.
Strategy delivery tip #6: Measure how successful your innovation is against suitable metrics.
Fund your innovation strategy
Once you have crafted a strategy to match your innovation type and stage, capital is one element that is fundamental for you to deliver your innovation strategy successfully. So don’t make it an afterthought or expect that you’ll attract investor funding when the time comes. If you’re in the innovation game, some if not all of your R&D may be eligible for the Federal Government’s R&D Tax Incentive refund and up to 43.5 cents for every R&D dollar you’ve invested.
If that’s the case, you don’t need to wait months for your tax refund to arrive. You can access it early with a Radium Advance. Our non-dilutionary financing is a faster way to get the funding you need to deliver your innovation strategy and stay in control of your business. And with no minimum term and no repayments until your loan matures, it’s cash-flow-friendly funding you can count on. Contact our team of R&D finance experts today to discover how Radium Capital can help you deliver your innovation strategy.
 G., A. and L., R., 2013. Playing to Win. Harvard Business Press.
 BCG Global. Innovation Strategy and Delivery. [online] Available at: https://www.bcg.com/capabilities/innovation-strategy-delivery/overview.
 Mariello, A. (2007). The Five Stages of Successful Innovation. [online] MIT Sloan Management Review. Available at: https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/the-five-stages-of-successful-innovation/.
 The Innovator’s Advantage. (n.d.). The Six Stages of Innovation. [online] Available at: https://theinnovatorsadvantage.com/six-stages-of-innovation/