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Innovation Strategy, Execution – and War Games?

by Stefan Lindegaard
September 9, 20139/9/13 3 Comments

I have long been an advocate for companies to develop an innovation strategy that fits well into their overall corporate strategy. I think this is a good way for aligning innovation efforts with corporate direction, but I must admit that I have some difficulties finding good examples of such strategies. The best one I know of is almost 5 years old – the Innovation Intent by Grundfos.

Another development on innovation strategies in general (and on my own perspectives on the topic) is Telefonica and their lack of an innovation strategy. They simply believe that we need more execution in innovation. It’s tough to argue with this one.

While doing some more research on the topic, I got to read an article by McKinsey, Battle-test Your Innovation Strategy, in which the authors share some good examples on how leading companies use war games to better focus on the competition and get the right strategies in place.

I like this approach and I think it can help companies develop better innovation strategies in times with a fast pace of change and the need for being competitively unpredictable – or having to fight such competitors.

It is true that strategy has a long-term ring to it, but this is changing as decisions on the products/service level, the portfolio/platform level or the go-to-market level need to be taken much faster today. Here, games in which you try out various scenarios can help your company better prepare for the expected – or perhaps even more so for the un-expected – competitive moves.

The article shares some good examples on how a consumer-electronics company, a high tech company within B2B and a financial services firm worked with games in relation to their innovation strategies. It is definitely worth a read: Battle-test Your Innovation Strategy

Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. Fernando Machado says:

    Dear Lindberg,
    First of all, congrats on your innovation promotion endeavours.
    The problem you mention is, in my understanding, the holy grail of inovation management, as no innovation strategy will lead you anywhere, but where you want to go.
    The difficulty of most enterprises have in devising such strategy, in my experience, relates to the absence of innovation strategy considerations in their competitive strategy formulation framework, and, most of all, in their lack of capability to devise a solid innovation strategy.
    In FOCOTOTAL ltd we use a framework of 5 stages with 15 steps in order to assist enterprises to establish their innovation strategy and respective innovation project portfolio in such a way to specifically increase and sustain the enterprise desired competitive advantage.
    Our methodology draws on contributions from Christensen, Dick Lee, and others, besides our own.
    Best regards


  2. Hi Stefan,

    you address an interesting and important issue here. I think portfolio management is another promising approach to link innovation strategy to corporate strategy across different time horizons (short, mid and long term) and to ensure proper execution at each level. Kevin McFarthing and I are currently preparing a two-part article on this – to be up soon.

  3. interlgroup says:

    I had a read of the article by McKinsey – it was a very interesting read and something that I had maybe no given enough thought to in the past, Definitely food for thought I would say – thanks