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Observations on incorporating innovation into the strategic planning process

Strategy and InnovationA question that might present itself is, “when should an organization begin to innovate?”  The short answer is that it should be an ongoing activity in every organization.  If you consider the idea that businesses exist in a changing environment, it is reasonable to conclude that they must change and evolve in order to meet the needs of the environment, and that change must be ongoing.

As a business leader, I am always interested and amazed by new products that are coming to market from the entertainment and IT industries.  Industry leaders seem to always be working on the next big thing.  It is as though as soon as they bring something to market, they already have the next two or three “BIG THINGS” in the works.

The reality is…that is probably true.  But then, it seems as though many of the entrepreneurs I know do the same.

Here might be the difference: when you incorporate innovation into the strategic planning process, it becomes much easier to manage.  The alternative is taking a number of half-baked ideas to market and hoping that something sticks.  Half-baked means, “okay – I think this might be something my market might want.  Let me ask a few people.  Okay, I have time to put something together and launch it.  I hope I make some money back on it.”

Surely – there are some companies that are successful doing this.  There are more, however, that are unsuccessful, just as there are more unsuccessful small business startups than successful ones.  Often, the difference is that one set of businesses plans their launch – be it a product or a business – and have an understanding of what it will take for the product or company to be successful, not the least of which being consideration of the marketing strategy, timing and expected return.

Innovation cannot be an event – neither a flash in the pan, nor an unproductive activity; rather, it needs to be an ongoing activity and mentality within an organization.  I love to read about companies like 3M, Pixar and Disney, wherein they understand, produce and deliver innovation on an ongoing basis.  They understand that there are different horizons they need to work on – the present, the immediate future and the distant future – with all of their decisions, investments and planning.  They understand that not every idea will come to market, but when audiences are blown away by the next installment of “The Incredible Spiderman 3D,” the work pays off.

But they don’t stop there.  They push the envelope again…even before the movie hit the theatre.  They develop concepts for technologies that haven’t been invented, yet.  They meet the needs of the market that the market doesn’t have, yet.  They stay in a state of looking at the world and saying, “why don’t we…?” and figuring out how to address the problem.

Innovation – how much time, money and people – should be incorporated into your company’s strategic planning.  It should be an ongoing activity whose components and resources are planned for.  Like any component of your business, make sure that you are seeking not just activity, but plan for a realistic return on your investment.

Don’t settle for running an ordinary small business.  Innovate and build an extraordinary one.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Atlanta, Georgia based Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We help business leaders DESIGN| CREATE | BUILD extraordinary businesses.  We support our clients with financial management, product and service production and delivery, outsourced services management, sales & marketing and business growth.  We provide them with a number of flexible solutions to help them reach their goals.

Join us for a Coffee & a Consult, to learn more about Aepiphanni and how we might help you move your company from existing to extraordinary.

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