The popular press often associates “innovation in business” with the process of new product ideation. And, the definition of innovation is regularly tied to the “home run” idea that launches a company to the forefront of an industry. These published tales are then packaged together with the profile of a single flamboyant, iconoclastic or unexpected innovator.
I suggest that “strategic innovation” is an overall process that sustains the growth of existing organizations as well as launches new entities. Such a framework comprehends not just the occasional generation of a major disruptive product introduction but, also the range of continuous innovation necessary to sustain competitive advantage. This perspective spans significant new product or service introductions all the way to go-to-market innovations with leading edge value chain improvements in between.
Additionally, I am partial to a definition I saw many years ago which outlined the opportunities for innovation as falling into one of three categories:
- Significant new functionality for a well-know offering
- Novel form for delivering a well-known functionality
- Significant new functionality in an completely new product or service
I would add that what makes innovation more or less “strategic” for a particular enterprise is whether the concept represents a potentially, sustainable material impact for the organization (either stand-alone or, as an enabler of other revenue or differentiation sources) when commercialized.
Mike Mata is a member of the Advisory Board for the UCI Don Beall Center for Entrepreneurship