Part one of a two-part series.
Almost every business around the world today is looking for ways to Innovate – how to make ideas better, make products better or bring to market in a new way or, even better, completely invent a whole new category. Innovation has become an ambition with businesses across the world in search of remaining relevant, so much so that the word itself starts to become stale in its use.
What’s really happening is the playing field has never been so large and dynamic and there are myriad of influences companies consider in respect to growing their business the only way to really stand out is to innovate. Considering the speed of media and technology, market demands and competition that has expanded into one growing, global market, it is no wonder that companies are looking for ways to stand out, to keep their name and their brand above the rest.
Part of the problem companies have with the idea of innovation is that it is such a broad term, some companies break under the weight of it – especially if there is no clear articulation of the path the company is heading down to achieve their innovation goals. Innovation can mean so many things and thus, without articulation on the company’s intentions and goals around innovation, the word is left for employees, stakeholders and customers’ interpretation. Which might not be the same end goal a company wants to take.
From the article “Managing Your Innovation Portfolio” in the Harvard Business Review, the authors have this to say on that topic:
Let’s consider how broad a term “innovation” is. Defined as a novel creation that produces value, an innovation can be as slight as a new nail polish color, or as vast as the World Wide Web. Most companies invest in initiatives along a broad spectrum of risk and reward. As in financial investing, their goal should be the portfolio that produces the highest overall return that’s in keeping with their appetite for risk.
Thus, it is not only important when managing the direction of a company, to clearly articulate and communicate the path of Innovation, but also to make sure that the products and services that work symbiotically to achieve these goals are balanced between high risk and low risk, and the combination depends on your overall goals for Innovation. Apple, for instance took much broader leaps in innovation than a company such as Coca-Cola. Are they both innovative companies? Yes. But the way that they innovate is relative to their risk appetite, the environment in which they compete and their own goals.
Expanding upon that idea of a “path of innovation”, we return to the same Harvard article, a chart is referenced called the “Ambition Matrix” (see chart).
The axes are ‘Where to Play’ and “How to Win”, which when mapped out, showcase 3 initiatives relating to Innovation relative to a company. Those are: CORE, ADJACENT and TRANSFORMATIONAL.
In our next post, we will outline how this chart can outline the map to innovation growth, whether you have low-risk or high-risk ambitions, and what marketing communications can do to not only support, but propel a company’s goal forward.
Image courtesy of fotopedia.
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