Consider innovation as a strategy and how awesome the synergy of innovative implementation could be if the innovation can be managed in a structural way, risks can be predicted and handled effectively.

Innovation has been misunderstood as mysterious or unmanageable sometimes, for many organizations, innovation is lip service, only a few know how to manage it to achieve tangible value. But without innovation, organizations cannot survive for the long run in face of fierce competitions and continuous disruption. 

Thus, forethoughtful companies leverage innovation as a strategy that needs to be practiced by management in true spirit. There should be encouragement and involvement by management to spread the spirit. And there should be a logical scenario to craft a good innovation strategy as well as the step-wise steps in implementing innovation to achieve measurable results.

Spot crucial business issues, and discover hidden spots for innovation: Innovation can happen anywhere, anytime; it expands both horizontally and vertically. Innovation is about how to manage creative/novel ideas to achieve business value. Innovation strategy is an integral component of the business strategy. To diagnose the critical business issues and take innovative approaches to solve them, the organizational management needs to practice strategic thinking by envisioning the future and clarifying the reality, and keep asking themselves and others: What’s the future of business? What's our unique competency? What’re the challenges? Where are the hidden spots to innovate?

In fact, diagnosing crucial business problems is one of the first steps in practicing innovation as a strategy. You do need to understand that those solutions may come through back doors and side windows, or have perhaps been hiding in the basement. Highly innovative companies usually have a powerful innovation navigation system which involves tapping the business ecosystem for a collective perspective on where to disrupt or where to reconstruct. People centricity is an important clue to spot the right opportunities for innovating, focus on meeting important customer needs and providing personalization solutions to them. It helps to assure that the results of an innovative approach will have a positive impact on the clients, partners, end users, and the marketplace.

Build a framework with all key elements for managing innovation in a structural approach: Innovation is a process which can be managed. Innovation management can be iterative, evolutionary, revolutionary, or disruptive, but it must be marketable and implementable. It takes a holistic approach to develop a business-wide innovation framework which has many important hard and soft elements of businesses such as people, system, process, culture, tools, etc. Missing any of them will severely decrease innovation success rate.

A good innovation framework helps to clarify the strategic value of innovation, oversee the management structure and scenarios of meaningful innovation exploration, walk through and cross the functions to integrate and scale up innovation best practices in order to build up a healthy innovation portfolio, and improve the consistency of the innovation management practices and results. Keep in mind, people are innovators, framework, process or tools are enablers. Always be careful in examining the potential points of engagement, rather than saying "first we'll fix this."

Implementation is an integral practice for manifesting innovation as a strategy: As the saying goes: Planning is nothing without action. Planning is an effective way to achieve innovation if planning effort is integrated with management practices to get expected outcome. Always keep the big picture, Iteration, interaction, and cross-functional understanding are all crucial in innovation implementation. Implementation of innovation is a collective and inclusive action by all in the organization/teams involved. In reality, innovation has a very low success rate. Often, innovation leadership hasn't taken the time to involve the organization in the innovation planning-implementation processes, and it's usually related to the lack of organizational inclusion in the innovation strategy implementation efforts.

Business is full of uncertainty, volatility, and complexity, the planning fallacy is a business reality. Innovation management becomes risky. Sometimes, the management focuses on business strategy development and puts a lot of effort into developing a great strategy with strategic initiatives. But strategy execution does not get the same attention. At the enterprise scope, innovation management should focus on building a healthy innovation portfolio to establish business competency. To build an innovation portfolio and achieve great results, analyze "what if" situations showing potential scale of business benefit to be driven from the portfolio based on different mixes of innovation efforts. Practice innovation management via iterative communication, incremental goal implementation, customer-centric viewpoint.

Innovations are coming at a seemingly much faster pace, with changes and potential disruptions, and therefore, innovation management also becomes more complex and dynamic. Consider innovation as a strategy and how awesome the synergy of innovative implementation could be if the innovation can be managed in a structural way, risks can be predicted and handled effectively.

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