How to BulletProof Your Innovation Strategy
Innovation strategy dictates that a good idea is not merely enough to succeed in today’s fast moving world. Innovation is defined as “the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will reward either commercially or in their loyalty. More and more I see companies resourcing the role of Chief Innovation Officer and from the top down, insisting their business continually improve yet the ability to get an idea off the ground is still sandbagged and stifled within the onion layers of organisations. It’s time to review your approach to innovation strategy planning and execution if you want to champion transformational change in your business.
In 2006, I devoured Curtis R. Carlson and William W. Wilmot’s business bestseller Innovation – The Five Disciplines for Creating What Customers Want. I highly recommend this book because despite its age, the fundamental concepts are evergreen.
Whilst it might be easy to blame the business for it’s inability to recognise a brilliant idea (yours), you’ll have a greater degree of success if your innovation pitch covers the following four areas of strategy questioning.
For all those who are clock-changers (coined beautifully by Jeffrey Hayzlett), you’ll need to equip yourself and your innovation strategy pitch with a rock-solid value proposition. Ensure that yours is water tight in order to avoid confusion, wasted time, and a creativity fumble. Demonstrating obvious and sustainable customer value will not only impress your boss or board of directors, it will also position you as the go-to person to mentor others who also might have a great idea but not know how to take it forward.
According to Carlson & Wilmont an innovation strategy pitch’s success is as simple as NABC. Here are the four questions your case for innovation needs to answer to arrive at a positive outcome.
- Have you clearly identified the NEED?
Make certain that whatever you are contemplating doing is assigned to something that your company, customer or market require. Find something that is broken, ugly, disparate or slow. Articulate all those whose lives would positively be impacted if this were improved or changed. Make a list of actual customer statements that articulate the need. If your project relates to a digital aspect of your business, review the digital compass created by Altimeter to determine what levers need to be moved to reach your off line business goals.
- How will you go about making this happen? Map the APPROACH.
When preparing your innovation pitch and value proposition piece step out how you will bring your idea to life. What will the journey look like? Who needs to go with you? What are the stops along the way (milestones or mile markers)? Show versus Tell is always more effective so use visuals like an infographic, flow chart or diagram whenever possible.
- What are the BENEFITS TO CONSUMERS of doing relative to the expense of the undertaking?
Articulate how your idea will deliver significant customer value or benefits per costs. What is the ROI of your suggested innovation?
An example of what this answer might look like is a personal case study. I once observed a company was spending four million British pounds on consumer insights through mystery shoppers per annum. Their business was in airport retail. One of their problems was the latency of receiving information their mystery shoppers collected. If their stores or services were wrong, it took 30 days and millions of customers to lose before key decision makers became informed in monthly net promoter reports. During the boom of social check-ins, I recommended a game-ified application that allowed customers to check-in. It was an innovation for gathering consumer feedback in real time at a lesser cost. Customers would provide on the spot reviews for loyalty points aligned with purchase data, status levels, and fun. The “game” would provide the business with the same quality of data more frequently and connect the dots between what customers were purchasing with sentiment. Development costs for the application, platform; support and cloud were a component of a $250k interlinked series of applications connecting loyalty behaviour, alerts, management dashboards and employee training. Benefit-mapping made my business care bulletproof.
- What is the cost of inaction as it directly relates to the COMPETITION?
Be specific on how the benefits per cost will outplay the company next store that is aggressively pursuing your customers. List what the direct impact of status quo and doing nothing and don’t be afraid to tell the ugly truths. Ask others what the ecosystem will look like around that object of innovation in five years if nothing changes. Answering this 4th question is probably the most confronting part of the innovation pitch journey, but once addressed will spark the ah-ha moment and reaction you so seek. Innovation strategy will require you to articulate how your change will position your business to your competition.
To avoid the frustration associated with being a change agent, be sure and formulate a winning value proposition that is easy to read, understand and subscribe to. When you’ve answered or addressed these four key questions you’ll not only have clarity of thinking and structure to your innovation pitch, you’ll also have the confidence to iterate it elegantly and win the support of others. Preparation, patience and persistence will pay off.
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About the Author
Stephenie Rodriguez founded Mighty Media Group, a leading data-driven digital, mobile and social marketing strategy and solutions firm, in 2004 and is currently the company’s Chief Enabling Officer. She is also the former publisher of Ocean Drive Magazine (Australia), a speaker and futurist on all aspects of social technology, an evangelist of engagement, and has advised companies including SSP – The Food Travel Experts, Cebu Pacific Air, Club Med Asia Pacific, Austereo, JR/DutyFree, Radar Group of Companies, Transfield, Allied Mills, Income Solutions, and Bayer (Berocca), Toyota, Mercedes Benz, and the UN FAO. You’re likely to find her Tweeting here @digitalgodess or meet her at events such as #SXSWi, #TFWA, #TedxSydney and #SocialBiz.