How Aligned Is Your Innovation?

by Jay Deragon on 09/17/2008

The disruptive nature of the social web has many firms chasing innovation. There are numerous types of innovation and each offering a compelling cause aimed at creating differentiation and unique value propositions.

Geoffrey Moore, in his book “Dealing With Darwin”, suggest that while most of us recognize disruptive innovation there are many other types of innovation from which an organization can leverage to improve value and create market differential. The different types of innovation include Value Migration, Process, Integration, Value Engineering, Experiential, Marketing, Enhancement, Line Extension, Platform, Product, Application and Disruptive. With so many different types of innovation it becomes critical for organizations to assess and define which initiative(s) create the most value.

Moore defines the challenge as one of leaders needing to prioritize one line of innovation above all others. If management does not take a position on innovative strategy, the company’s innovations will continue to bubble up, but they will not be aligned. If all are brought to market—and that is the default option in this scenario—none will achieve breakaway status.

How Do You Balance?

Many companies are seeking to create the next big thing. At the same time the operational challenge is to satisfy existing customers, employees and suppliers. Leaders sometimes get so caught up in the future they fail to capture the value available to them today. Growth is everyone’s objective but unless growth is grounded and aligned with markets, resources and capital the end result can be a rude awakening of failure to balance the future need for innovation with the immediate demand for operational excellence.

There are many firms in the hyper growth stage fueled by the increased demand for “everything social”. Market opportunities are ripe since the demand continues to increase. The field of suppliers is growing and the entrenched players are experiencing rapid growth. Everyone wants to be #1, the most innovative, the best, the most knowledgeable and market leaders. However not everyone has the depth of knowledge, skill and management talent to successfully navigate from past success to future dominance.

Everyone loves the innovative nature of all this social stuff and its promise for significant business benefits. However not everyone has the capacity to balance today’s demands for revenue with tomorrows demand for more innovation required to sustain a dominant market position. What is required for success is innovative management methods, a category not defined.

As Geoffrey Moore says, “the failure—and this is the failure of leadership, not of the rank and file—lies in the failure to prioritize one line of innovation above all others. We shrink from putting all our eggs in one basket. We hedge our bets. We would not do so if we had paid more attention in math class when the teacher was explaining vector additions. You remember vectors—those arrows that show the direction and magnitude of a given force. Remember what happens when you add them?”

Get it? What say you?

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