Devil in the Details – Strategic Innovation

by Braden Kelley

There is more talk about strategic innovation every day. As more and more industries enter their commodity phase, companies are looking to differentiate themselves and increasingly they are turning to strategic innovation to do so. The art of strategic innovation has been the subject of many books including: Dealing with Darwin, Blue Ocean Strategy, and Fast Second. Books on the topic detail the virtues of creating a strategy that separates you from your competitors’ strategies.

The devil is in the details though as execution is far more important than strategy, even when it comes to innovation. The reason is that when your industry is commoditizing, you are unlikely to be the only company trying to create a strategic innovation, and so multiple companies may end up pursuing the same strategic innovation. It is not the selection of a new strategy that creates innovation. It is the ability of an organization to execute upon that strategy better than anyone else and in a way that creates unique policies, processes, systems, and organizational dynamics that are difficult to imitate which creates the competitive separation necessary to sustain a strategic innovation.

So, if you decide to pursue strategic innovation, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does my organization have the skills to execute upon the chosen strategy?
  2. Do we have the ability to change in necessary ways to achieve the desired strategic innovation?
  3. Does my organization have the vision to identify the policies, processes, systems, and reporting necessary to create true competitive separation?
  4. Do we have the will to fight our way over our internal barriers to change?
  5. Can my organization successfully complete the transformation into the end result envisioned for the strategic innovation?


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Braden KelleyBraden Kelley is a Social Business Architect and the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. Braden is also a popular innovation speaker and trainer, and advises companies on embedding innovation across the organization and how to attract and engage customers, partners, and employees.

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