10 ideas to make innovation work

by Strategy

In our Report on Innovation Practices, we saw how much innovation was key to the success of many organizations. However, we also saw how difficult it was for many organizations to ensure the successful realization of innovation (see The Impact of Innovation Practices).


Here are 10 ideas to make innovation work and ensure winning conditions for implementing and managing your innovation process.


1. Continually monitor the environment

Continually monitor and understand opportunities (changes in customer needs, new markets, new offerings, etc.) and threats (competition, disuse of supply, etc.) that arise from the environment. Develop a realistic portrait of the organization’s positioning by assessing the strengths and points to be developed.

2. Define innovation objectives adapted to the situation

Develop the ambition to stand out in the market. Evaluate the appropriate mix between optimization of current operations and exploratory development of future growth drivers. Evaluate the completeness and necessity for innovation processes by combining different perspectives (market, supply, business model, etc.)

3. Include innovation objectives in the strategic plan

Include innovation objectives in the organization’s strategic plan in order to achieve them. The board of directors may also ask the management team to maintain a dual focus of innovation targets. All in order to prevent pressures from current activities on limiting the development of future activities.

4. Develop a culture of innovation conducive to experimentation

The effectiveness of innovation requires a continuous effort. A one-off or isolated effort cannot address constant change. Since success does not come from a single good idea, it is important to promote a culture conducive to exploratory, iterative and validation work with the client. The focus must be on learning.

5. Protect human resources dedicated to innovation

As resource availability is the biggest hurdle, mechanisms to liberate necessary resources must be introduced. Creating a formal program to which the workforce will relate can limit the negative impacts of daily and operational priorities. Being associated with the innovation program must be valued, recognized, and rewarded.

6. Develop a mastery of innovation practices and methodologies

The challenge of innovation rarely comes from a lack of ideas but rather from the activities needed to realize them. Methodologies such as “Business Model Innovation », “Design Thinking” or « Lean Startup » offer tools that help to clarify, validate and prototype new ideas in a systematic and rapid way.

7. Define the structures needed for innovation

In line with the inclusion of innovation goals in the strategic plan, it is critical that senior management can relate to the innovation agenda. Multidisciplinary teams and separate budgets should be dedicated to this program to reduce the impact of organizational silos and facilitate decision-making.

8. Manage the execution risk of innovation

All ideas generated cannot be implemented. It is necessary to reduce the risk and uncertainty of any new idea by prototyping the feasibility and testing the customer’s interest as quickly and cheaply as possible. The goal is to develop the most promising ideas and to abandon nonviable pursuits.

9. Measure the performance of innovation

The innovation process can span several months or even years. It is important to select suitable indicators that measure progress throughout the process. It is also appropriate to measure the readiness of the organization to innovate including, in particular, the performance management program of the teams necessary to encourage desired behaviors.

10. And finally…. Act now while there is still time

Regardless of the situation, the potential of the opportunities, the severity of the threats, the industry or the stage of maturity of the organization, the goal is to act before it is too late. Acting when the organization’s performance is healthy encourages proactivity and increases the chances of getting ahead of the competition.

Developing a competitive advantage, whether from an innovation focused on future actions or optimization of operations cannot be achieved without providing the necessary time. Reacting in panic mode can lead to disappointing or even unfortunate results. Do not wait until it is too late.

Combining Strategy and Innovation

Combining Strategy and Innovation

Capturing the essence of our customers’ (or prospects’) needs and jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) enables us to develop new innovation opportunities. Combined with the transformation of our business models, this allows us to have maximum impact on value creation and the development of a competitive advantage.