Innovation is a key strategic priority for many global organizations and executives. According to McKinsey, 84% of executives believe innovation is important for growth. Sadly, only 6% of these executives are satisfied with their performance in innovating. One massive roadblock between wanting to achieve breakthroughs and actually being innovative is having an innovation management strategy for growth.

When an organization has an idea for new technology or a solution capable of prototyping, it may be tempting to run full speed ahead without thinking too much about the details. However, it's imperative to take a step back and ask, "How do we get there?" Organizations that fail to break through or keep up often fall short in developing a core business strategy for creating new products or services, then bringing them to existing or new markets while working within its overall business plan, mission and vision. These non-innovators don't plan and execute a strategic action plan to scale their operations through systematic creative breakthroughs. They need a grand strategy for growth driven by new ideas, new approaches, new business models.

What is an Innovation Growth Strategy and Why Do Organizations Need One? 

A strategy for growing by innovating is a business model innovation roadmap that guides enterprises toward their goals. It helps companies, nonprofits, and government agencies strategically expand their operations by introducing new tools and processes systematically as part of their cultures. To be effective, the new growth strategy must align with the overall business model and the organizational mission, vision, and value proposition. To prevent silos, the strategy must also take into account each unit and internal stakeholdermarketing, sales, research and development, and IT, for example.

Start-ups, global corporations, and governments alike can benefit from having an innovation strategy in place. Here are just a few benefits the group may realize: 

  1. Clear Priorities and Goals - An innovation strategy geared toward growth clearly states objectives and goals with the steps necessary to achieve them. This clarity of alignment should be shared across the network so that all teams are working with leadership toward common strategic goals. 
  2. Innovative Culture - When executives and managers make innovating a priority and take it seriously, the rest of the company will too. The resulting innovation model will become part of your value proposition for hiring and employee retention. 
  3. Alignment Across the Organization - When a supergroup that spans disciplines is working toward common goals, leaders create alignment. Different teams have different responsibilities and strategies, but they all share the same commitment to continuous improvement through creativity. 
  4. Overcome Challenges - When those inevitable challenges arise, there's a long-term resource in place for testing new ideas aimed at overcoming the issues and staying on track. 
  5. Increased Productivity and Performance - When you have an innovative, aligned company culture, employees are generally motivated to work more efficiently. By rewarding greater initiative, executives and managers give the workforce a vested interest in the success and well-being of the enterprise or institution. 
  6. Growth Culture - An innovative culture encourages employees at all levels to have a growth mindsetthe belief that success can be achieved with time, creativity, and energy, not just varying abilities and specializations. A growth culture encourages everyone to look at problems from different angles and test out many different solutions, a vital collective capability. 
  7. Competitive Advantage - All the above benefits give a cutting-edge group a built-in advantage over competitors that do not follow an effective strategy for growing by innovating. 

How to Leverage a Strategic Innovation Growth Plan that Drives Success in any Market 

Your team's development of an innovation growth strategy is imperative to success in any industry. However, developing and articulating this plan may be challenging. Here are some tips any executive at any company, agency, or nonprofit can use to develop and implement an innovation engine:

  1. Determine Objectives and Strategic Approach - The first step to creating your innovation strategy and fulfilling maximum potential is to determine the ultimate reality you're hoping to create and the steps your organization needs to take to make the vision come to life.
  2. Align with Overall Business Strategy - Your innovation strategy will be distinct from your overall business strategy, an essential component within it, so they need to align to maximize your investment returns and accelerate market penetration.
  3. Know Your Market - Knowing who your customers and competitors are will empower you to tailor your business model for innovation. It's important to understand your customers' wants, expectations, and unmet needs as well as your competitors' value propositions across the industry.
  4. Define Your Key Differentiators - What sets your offering apart from the competition? How are competitors innovating? Understanding your market will help you define and then articulate your key differentiators, an essential step in finding new ways to distinguish your offerings from the competition.
  5. Establish Processes - Establishing innovation processes is the "action step" of your strategy. Your decision-makers lay out the necessary mechanisms and processes that will position the enterprise to achieve its objectives. Having processes and tools in place and training the staff on them creates continuity, sets standards, and instills trust among your customers, partners, and other stakeholders.
  6. Hire and Retain Innovators - Set standards for hiring and talent retention that fit your plans for systematically innovating. Professionals with a demonstrable inclination toward creativity and forward-thinking will propel your team's ability to spark or harness a trend, or access a new resource or capability.
  7. Train Existing Employees - Once you've developed your processes and tools, train everyone on them. Even if someone doesn't have an apparent inclination toward innovation, they can be taught how to approach challenges creatively, engaging with coworkers and customers in the new framework, and looking at projects through the lens of your new ways of doing things. 
  8. Evolve - The world is constantly changing and your strategies must change with it. COVID-19 is just the latest transformative example of a global disruption that produced virtually unlimited new opportunities. A 21st-century innovation strategy requires regular testing, learning, and adapting.

Blending global business, public policy, and international affairs, Thunderbird specializes in the expert development of innovative leaders and managers across sectors, enhancing performance in public and private organizations globally. Discover how Thunderbird can shape your career and put you, your company, and your community on a path to sustainable economic growth and stability.

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