product innovation blog

What an innovation strategy is NOT


innovation strategy

 What Innovation Stragey is not …

  • % revenue dollars from new products vs. old products
  • % dollars invested in breakthrough projects vs. incremental
  • Being first to market
  • Being creative
  • Changing your business model

If you google “innovation strategy” you’ll find various definitions that are outcomes, such as:

    1. The types of innovations the company should pursue, such as radical innovations, product improvements, line extensions, incremental improvements, sustaining innovations and disruptive innovations
    2. How quickly the company takes advantage of opportunities, such as introducing new technologies and products, or responding to competitive pressures. Categories such as prospectors/innovators, analyzers/fact-followers, defenders, and reactors are used
    3. A roadmap for product development

These definitions include outputs of innovation, but that is not strategy. These categorizations obscure the purpose of an innovation strategy to ensure the company is able to create the desired innovations now and in the future.

Other proffered definitions list the behaviors to adopt, such as:

  • immersion in the customer’s environment
  • bringing outside experts into the innovation process
  • acting small and entrepreneurial
  • embracing open innovation

Behaviors are perhaps a little closer to the goal, but these are individual tactics or tools. Again that is not strategy.

The goal of an innovation strategy is the establishment of a working infrastructure (the people, systems and processes, technologies, culture and metrics) that efficiently and effectively produces the desired innovations.


Want to learn more?

Next week we will provide an overview of What is an Innovation Strategy.’

The Management Roundtable and our firm, Strategy 2 Market, is offering a 4-part webinar series on the Innovator’s Guide to Strategy.   You will not only learn more about innovation strategy, but you will learn about… developing your strategic framework, including: innovation, market, product, technology/IP, platform strategies and product and technology roadmaps.

product development strategy

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2 comments on “What an innovation strategy is NOT

  • You seem to imply that innovation is a process! I strongly disagree. It becomes a process in the hands of marketing folks who do not understand technology and want to quantify each opportunity. Furthermore, they have the confidence that they know more than the people actually involved in innovation.

    Having worked in the corporate environment for over 30 years, I have come to realize that innovation in corporate culture is non existent. The focus is on being risk averse, and hence the opposite of innovation. The leaders focus on line extensions and buy innovation! They call them business development, m&a, and several other fancy titles they give themselves.

    True innovation is occurring in the fertile grounds of start up companies, the labs and the teams who truly believe that they wan to change the world! These folks are driven by passion and relentless execution.


    • Siddharth, I’m sorry you have had such disappointing experiences with innovation. We have seen good and bad examples of innovation in corporations. I can understand your perspective and I believe there is reason for hope. There is much discussion in the literature about ways to improve corporate innovation and we have a new perspective we will be sharing soon.

      One of the areas of misconception is the innovation strategy, which we have endeavored to illustrate with this post. The next post will address the purpose of innovation strategy and its elements.

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