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Strategic Issues


There is a big gap between having a slogan and having a strategy. And this gap was very, very evident in our study. Company after company espoused innovation, some even had it in their logos. In one case, a company that prominently displayed their advocacy for innovation was devoid of a single strategy, policy, process, or practice with one of its largest revenue generating customers. The Innovation Chess Game

The Most Innovative Companies in our study had a very clear set of strategic objectives, tools, and processes to gain advantage.

  • Some started with their Business Development Teams, knowing what targets would provide the right innovation streams.
    • The Secret to their success was not just finding the right companies, but knowing how to integrate them effectively.
      • We found a number of Best Practices in this category that separated winners from losers.
    • Having a process to manage their array of innovation relationships was essential to striking a Global Advantage. Without a system to manage global acquisitions and alliances, companies became overly opportunistic, which, in the long run relegated them into a reactionary (non-proactive) mode.
      • We were able to construct a set of best practices to enable a highly pro-active mode which dramatically enhanced streams of innovation.
    • An excellent framework to determine when innovation should be acquired, when it should come from an alliance, and when it would be done inside was essential to many best-in-class organizations.
      • While each of the best companies used a different process for this decision making, we were able to extract a universal framework that can be adopted to a wide assortment of businesses and industries.
  • Other companies did a very careful assessment of their value chains to understand the impact of innovation.
    • Their strategy was in knowing how to create a new value chain where innovation would truly create a bullet-proof competitive advantage. In the most dramatic cases, these companies redesigned their value chains from the back end (supply and R&D) right through to the front end (the customer). The results of this style of process reengineering was remarkable, because it removed non-value added work, which often got in the way of doing more constructive things, like developing new technologies and products.
      • Our team was able to utilize these best practices and implement them successfully in several pilot projects, which then grew and matured with high levels of innovation.
    • A full value chain reengineering was not necessary to gain competitive advantage. A company just had to be better than their competition. Many of the best companies in their industry segments only created innovation relationships in part of their value chain, but gained advantage over their slower moving, more myopic competitors nonetheless.
  • Does Your Value Chain
Have Weak Links where
Innovation is Stagnant?
    The world is very dynamic, with everchanging strategic forces.
    • To navigate the uncharted waters in a minefield of multiple futures, world class innovators developed unique planning tools that could be used globally in the field to create innovations that were highly effective.
    • Another strategic approach to innovation was to engage some very specialized techniques, such as war gaming, scenario mapping, and other very sophisticated forecasting.
        • We have been able to improve on a number of these strategic initiatives, and have partnered with one of the companies to create strategic advantages that will leverage innovation streams.
    • Not all innovation is created equal. Best in Class companies developed ways to triage innovation to be sure time, money, and resources were not wasted on nice-to-have methods.


The Engines of Innovation Program will outline
the criteria for success, the key processes and practices, and
how to implement these best-in-class strategic tools and skill sets
 in your company


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