Constructing an innovation conversation framework is never easy, we all come at it in different ways and those strategic conversations begin to fray at the edges and slip more into tactical the more we talk.
At this time of year for many, this is a potential chance gained (or lost) to influence the strategic plans and secure the commitment and funding towards your innovation activities for the coming year and beyond.
If you just diving into innovations, this sort of strategic conversation can change the goalposts, alter the perspective and can give the innovation a more focused framing to build propositions around.
The framing of an innovation conversation framework
What I am suggesting here is an innovation conversation framework, on how we can approach different strategic value propositions, and where we might need to debate these across the organization, as the points of impact, so we can make a move towards a higher degree of innovation alignment for all involved.
If we take the three ‘classic’ strategic thrusts of product leadership, operational excellence or customer intimacy, then we need to make clear the potentially different emphasis points within any suggested innovation approach that we should take. We must, within any innovation approach, be clear on what and where we should be placing our primary focus.
Aligning innovation within a strategic conversation framework
This framing can be most useful to remind people who are involved that there are significant points of difference. There is a need to agree and align on what we are driving towards - and support any selected strategic direction. This framework can really open up the discussion. It can begin to show the possible implications and challenges ahead.
Equally some might argue that you actually need to combine all three, well I’d certainly want to question whether this is possible all at the same time. I would really doubt it, if you just consider some of the aspects I’ve laid out within this framework above.
If it is still demanded, and some leaders can be just that, demanding - wanting to cover all the bases without knowing why they should be really focusing down on one of these. The direction you go requires the organizational focus to build the type of capabilities, resources and processes to match this.
The need for a real alignment of strategy and innovation
Innovation stands in service to strategic goals such as growing market share, differentiation and disrupting adjacent markets, serving the consistent changing and demanding customer needs or by honing the delivery process by spotting these and then exploiting them rapidly and effectively. The first thing is you need to have a solid, thoughtful conversation around the type of strategic emphasis you wish to achieve.
Creating clear goals and linking / aligning innovation to those more agile strategies is a vital step before you get into the actual innovation concept stage. Senior executives must establish the manner in which innovation fits within the strategic context established by goals, vision and strategies.
Really do try and establish some key principles
I would suggest you really do need, even more, a framework to remind you of the critical differences and what aspects need clear focus to deliver to the distinct value proposition parts. Each strategic value proposition has significant implications to plan and work through.
This framework can help you to contribute to achieving a greater alignment between the strategic direction (product leadership, operational excellence or customer intimacy) and the key innovation aspects that help to align to this which the organization will need to think about and work through.
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Paul Hobcraft researches and works across innovation, looking to develop novel innovation solutions and frameworks where appropriate. He provides possible answers to many issues associated with innovation with a range of solutions that underpin his advisory, coaching, and consulting work at www.agilityinnovation.com. His aim is to support individuals, teams, and organizations in their innovation activity applying what he has learned to further develop core innovation understanding so clients can achieve positive and sustaining results from their innovating activities to extend and build their capacity and capabilities.