Many organizations struggle with aligning their innovation activities with their strategic business goals. More often than not, innovation efforts fail to align ideas with the potential contribution those ideas can make to an organization’s strategic goals.
Instead of advancing strategic goals, ideas often contribute only to operational objectives, growing or protecting existing businesses. To address this issue, the Choice Cascading Model is an adaptive method that enables innovation to flow from the top down.
In this blog post, we examine how the Choice Cascading Model can help align a company’s innovation objectives with its overall business strategy.
Why Align Innovation with Strategy?
Strategy and innovation alignment is the harmonious integration of an organization's strategic objectives and its innovation efforts. It ensures that the implementation of innovative ideas, initiatives, and projects is seamlessly aligned with the overall goals and vision set by the company's top management.
This alignment is crucial for achieving sustainable growth, staying competitive, and responding effectively to changing market dynamics because instead of innovations being carried out in isolation, they are purposefully directed at addressing strategic priorities. When an organization successfully aligns its innovation with its strategic direction, it can maximize the value of its innovative endeavors and better position itself for long-term success.
The Challenge of Aligning Strategy with Innovation
Recognizing the challenge of aligning innovation with strategy is essential. Innovation is inherently chaotic, unpredictable, and often requires cross-functional collaboration that challenges established boundaries and conflicting priorities. It constantly challenges the status quo and can, on occasion, potentially challenge an organization’s stated strategic goals if “disruptive forces” have not been addressed radically enough.
Innovation managers constantly encourage innovators to abandon their personal judgments and open themselves up to different possibilities. Managers ask innovators to remain resolute and keep trying, pushing the boundaries, challenging and sometimes disrupting the established practices and processes that organizations often like to maintain. The innovator is constantly dealing with ambiguity, managing a far more dynamic process of learning and investigating. Often this is in direct conflict or tension with the organization’s need to extract the highest level of efficiency and effectiveness from established systems and processes.
However, despite these differences, strategy and innovation have much in common. They both deal with uncertainty, seek to quantify the unknown and work toward a future that opens new business opportunities. That's where the Choice Cascading Model comes into play to help with alignment.
What is the Choice Cascading Model?
The Choice Cascading Model is a decision-making framework and strategy used in fields like marketing, product development, and consumer behavior analysis. The model presents individuals with a series of choices, usually cascading down from high-level, broad choices to more specific, interrelated ones. If it becomes apparent that the more specific choices don’t align with the high-level ones, it’s important to revisit the latter. In effect, this “cascading” approach creates a constant, dynamic two-way flow.
The main goal of the Choice Cascading Model is to guide people through a decision-making process that’s aligned with their preferences and priorities. It’s designed to make the decision-making process more manageable by breaking it down into a series of smaller, sequential choices, rather than overwhelming people with all the possible options at once.
To be as effective as possible, the Choice Cascade needs a structure and operating principles, as well as a clear definition of the decision makers within the model in order to:
- Explain the choice that has been made and its specific rationale
- Clearly define the next step in the supply chain to make it a joint venture
- Assist in the implementation of the next choice
- Commit to reviewing and changing the choice based on feedback from subsequent partners
The Benefits of the Choice Cascading Model
The Choice Cascading Model helps to align innovation with strategy by facilitating a structured and systematic approach to decision-making in a number of ways:
- Identifying strategic priorities: When aligning strategy and innovation, organizations often face complex decisions about which innovative projects or ideas to pursue. The Choice Cascading Model breaks down these decisions into a series of choices, starting with the organization's high-level strategic priorities, to prioritize what aspects of innovation are most critical to the organization's overall strategy.
- Risk assessment: Innovation always involves risk, and organizations must decide how much risk they are willing to accept. The Choice Cascading Model can incorporate risk assessments at various decision points, helping organizations evaluate and manage the risks associated with different innovation projects.
- Feedback: As the model guides decision-makers, it can also incorporate feedback at various points in the process. If an innovation project doesn’t align well with strategic objectives or doesn’t yield the expected results, the model can guide adjustments in real-time.
- Measuring impact: At each choice point, managers can define key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with their strategic objectives. This enables them to measure the impact and progress of innovation initiatives against the business’s strategic goals.
By implementing the Choice Cascading Model to align business strategy and innovation, organizations can make more informed decisions, ensure that innovation efforts are directly aligned with strategic priorities, and ultimately achieve greater alignment between their long-term goals and innovation initiatives.