Aligning Innovation with Corporate Strategy

Aligning Innovation with Corporate Strategy

In today’s marketplace for corporate innovation initiatives to produce results, it is critical that they are aligned with corporate strategy. For this to happen, senior management needs to takes a leadership role in implementing innovation initiatives. In order to align innovation with strategy, companies need to review and analyze how well the company is meeting its strategic objectives.

That starts with an assessment of the current state of the business, business units, products, services and product/services priorities. “What does your organization do?” “What problems or opportunities do your products or services specifically address?”, “What are your key strengths?”, “Who is your target audience?” etc.

It is important to perform an environmental scan that explores competition, economic, political, and technical and customer influences during this process. At this stage often companies also perform a SWOT analysis to fully understand their current market position.

For example, the company’s product suite may not be fully integrated across all business units or reflect the specific value proposition that the corporate brand is conveying. The challenges uncovered should address not just product needs but also its impact on the brand, integration, technology platforms, sales strategy and potential market opportunities.

This strategic process, when done properly, can identify key opportunities where innovation can lead to game changing solutions. The process needs to be full of candor and free of individual politicking. Pride of authorship can often get in the way of truly uncovering the issues at hand and therefore the potential opportunities that lie ahead. The truth of the current situation may not always be pleasant, but addressing the reality of these issues is what leads to breakthroughs.

With the information gained during the internal review and analysis, companies can begin to formulate innovation initiatives to address these challenges. It begins by prioritizing top strategic issues, and defining future vision while identifying key success factors. These key success factors should include how innovation initiatives can be implemented to accelerate the process.

As one can see, the process that companies need to follow to align innovation initiatives with corporate strategy is relatively straight forward. The key is taking the time out of a busy executive’s day to specifically engage in this strategic process. Without executive leadership and buy-in the chances for success are limited.

Often times, third party facilitation can deliver objectivity in this process. It can allow executives to focus on the challenges at hand and the opportunities for innovation instead of jockeying for position within the strategic process.

As companies look to elevate corporate results in 2010, aligning innovation with corporate strategy can lead to quantifiable results going forward. Does your organization have a process to align innovation with corporate strategy? If so, what key issues drive that process? Do you believe that following the process helps ensure success moving forward? Does there need to be executive buy-in for the innovation initiatives to gain traction?

Share with us your thoughts on the importance of aligning innovation initiatives with corporate strategy.