It’s a brand new year, which means it’s time for a brand new annual innovation strategy for your organization. Perhaps you’ve been working on your annual strategy since before we entered this new year, or perhaps you just now have the bandwidth to really confront it. Either way, there are some core guidelines that will help you develop a thoughtful and successful innovation strategy.
As with many situations when one must move forward, it’s important to examine from where you have come. Think about and evaluate each of the strategies that you used the previous year. Consider the results versus the expectations, the obstacles and roadblocks you encountered. Then, when you think about all of the things that were less successful, make sure you think about and record all of the things that went right. The better you know the things that went wrong, the easier to avoid them in the future, and the better you know the things that went right, the easier to replicate them.
Once you’ve evaluated how your previous year in innovation went, think about tangible, specific goals that you can accomplish with this year’s innovation. You should think through what impact you’d like to have on your customers, and how you can support the overall strategy and mission of your organization. Perhaps most importantly, create a system to maintain last year’s innovations. Like any good and successful resolution, you don’t abandon it as soon as the new year begins. You look for ways to continue to incorporate it, in conjunction with your new resolutions.
Think practically about what kind of innovation is right for your organization. Many companies focus on incremental change, slow development. However, return on investment has been proven to be higher for transformative change. Still, just because there’s a higher ROI on the surface does not mean it’s the right innovation style for you to pursue. If your organization does not have the infrastructure to support drastic change, if incremental change is the only way that you can functionally innovate, then that is the right decision for you. The ROI is only higher if that method actually results in innovation, which it cannot do if you don’t the arrangements in place for it to succeed.
You’ve considered some of the things that went wrong in your previous year’s innovations, so now it’s time to take some of that knowledge and think through some potential roadblocks for the upcoming year, both internal and external. Do you know of a competitor who is releasing a product similar to one that you were hoping to work on? Are there immense changes happening politically, socially and nationally that may affect your business? Although there will always be things outside of your control, the more you brainstorm and prepare for potential obstacles ahead of time, the better prepared you were be. After all, if even half of the obstacles you encounter are ones that you foresaw in some capacity and prepared contingency plans for, you’re going to be in a much better position than you would have been otherwise.
Now that all of that big picture thinking is done, it’s time to get down to brass tacks and estimating resources needed for potential innovation projects, so you can actually plan out how many of those you might be able to pursue. Planning is easier in stages, which you can learn more about in the recent annual innovation white paper here.
For more tips and detailed information about creating an annual innovation strategy for your organization, download our annual innovation strategy white paper here.