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How to 'do' successful strategic innovation

Despite change and/or transformation being a focus for chief executives across the globe, organisations still tend to resist or seem sceptical of change. Yet change and innovation are synonymous. 

Why strategic innovation? 

Strategy in organisations, especially large corporates, is usually led by best practice, with a strong focus on competitors, rigid processes and outdated tools. This leads to small, incremental changes year after year based on past successes, but rarely delivers anything of real impact or innovation. Very few organisations have successfully implemented a culture of true innovation. Those who have will have moved to a strategic innovation model. A model that allows you to think bigger, more creatively and define your own market. 

Dr. Marc Sniukas wrote that you must continuously ask the following questions in order to enable strategic innovation:

  • What business are we really in? (for example, Starbucks isn’t in the coffee business, they’re in the people business serving coffee)
  • Who are your customers really? And who do you want them to be? 
  • What products and services do you offer them and are they relevant? 
  • How do you action strategic innovation? 

You have to redefine your organisation and change mindsets to enable innovation. When working with our clients we identified that resistance change is often the biggest hurdle to the successfully implementing strategic innovation. Organisations often sit within one of four stages of change: Avoidance, appreciation, making and leading change. 

Innovation and evolution theory. 

Micro evolution refers to changes in the gene pool of a population over time which result in relatively small changes to the organisms in the population, changes which would not result in the newer organisms being considered as a different species. Microevolutions are how many of us view innovation, it’s the equivalent to what CEOs are comfortable with today. Small, incremental changes sought to help the organisation survive.

Macro evolution, in contrast, is used to refer to changes in organisms which are significant enough that, over time, the newer organisms would be considered an entirely new species. Macroevolutions are what we call Strategic Innovation, change that can truly transform an organisation and help it to not only survive but to thrive in their ever-changing environment with a whole new take on what’s possible. 

Organisations who continually invest in micro-innovations are invariably disappearing and becoming less and less relevant as the environment in which they operate changes around them. Be it through the evolution of digital or customer empowerment. Macro-innovation can help an organisation to reinvent itself before it becomes extinct. 

The first step in the process of strategic innovation is to visualise your strategy. 

We developed the Strategic Innovation Assessment to help you do just that. The assessment is designed to help forward-thinking, ambitious professionals who want to make a real difference to their organisation. Driving strategic innovation requires a cultural change and the results of this assessment will give you the foundation to build upon. 

The online, self-assessment reviews five core areas of your organisation. Technical foundation, customer centricity, product & service relevance, customer acquisition and brand proposition. As soon as you submit your answers, you’ll receive your Strategic Innovation score, we’ll also calculate a score for each section. Your score will be accompanied by a number of insights and recommendations on how you can improve each area. You can compare your organisation’s innovation capability against others in your industry and turnover bracket. Your results will help you to focus your thoughts and innovation efforts. 

Start the assessment here.

Your results are designed to help you identify the areas in your organisation that need focus, give you a discussion tool to share with your colleagues and give you a start point for idea generation. 


Nick Phipps is a customer experience strategist at Rawnet.

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