4 Keys to a Successful Innovation Strategy

· by David Sewell

David is a co-founder and owner of HTI. He currently serves as the President of HTI and leads all innovative and growth initatives.
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54% of organizations have trouble bridging the gap between innovation strategy and overall business strategy.

This results from the viewpoint that innovation strategy and your overall business strategy as two different things. They aren’t. Innovation strategy is often business strategy. For HTI, we compete with many different segments in the staffing/recruiting industry. Our service lines are important and the marketplaces desires them. However, there are increasing cost elements, margin compression, and competition that force us to be innovative.

It’s difficult to differentiate yourself to your customers and attach value when your good or service is in a highly competitive space. You can choose to simply compete on price, but that has a finite timetable. The other options is to come up with new and creative ideas that address challenges that the marketplace may or may not yet be aware of. Creative, innovative companies are sought out and embraced.

When you provide additional value that others don’t, profit margin and customer retention improves. Product and service line life cycles are increasingly shorter. So, if you aren’t innovating, your business is going to be left behind.

Here are 4 tips to help marry your organization’s innovation strategy and business strategy.

  1. Incorporate CIP into your company culture.

    The act of continually improving puts your organization in the mindset that change is constant, and improvement applies even to things that are going well. Continually thinking about improvement opens your mind to creativity and innovation.

  2. Make small changes to get the big change.

    Any change is challenging, but big change is tough. Incorporating a series of small changes allows you to achieve the large, fundamental change you desire, but without creating disruption or resistance. Human nature is to be change adverse.

  3. Don’t fall into the trap of over-evaluating new ideas.

    Avoid analysis paralysis. There are a myriad of ways to evaluate new ideas but at the end of the day, the only question you need to ask is, “Does the change have practical application in that it will make a positive impact to the organization and those within it?” Sometimes that is making people feel better about what the company is doing. It may be a better tool, process, or other means to accomplish our job tasks. Sometimes it’s something that streamlines interdepartmental processes that makes us more efficient.

  4. Turn your problems into opportunities.

    Everything we do is an opportunity and you must look at it through that lens. Most innovation spurs as a result of a problem, a challenge, or something that drives us crazy. In other words, the things we complain about most in our job and company. Those are the best opportunities to innovate. I ask people all the time, “What is your biggest issue or challenge right now?” Training employees to mentally approach those challenges as opportunities to do something different or better is much more productive and satisfying. Think about all the truly “disruptive” organizations – i.e. Uber, how did they come about?