An Innovation Strategy, does your business need one?

Published on 30/07/2019 by ATI

An Innovation Strategy, does your business need one?

In a competitive business world, it’s critical to set objectives and use data and market insight to drive strategic business decisions. Organisations often outline these in their business plans, marketing and sales pipelines – but how many businesses make time to assess their internal levels of innovation and plan for the changes that will shape the business in the future?

Business agility and the ability to adapt for fast moving markets is becoming essential. The rise of disruptive technologies, shifting social trends and political regulation, are changing how we live, work and shop. Consequently, how we do business is changing too.

Change can happen overnight, as demonstrated by the power of Blue Planet when David Attenborough covered the extent of the problem with plastics pollution in our oceans. The effect? A plastic-free movement, community beach cleans, a wave of innovative businesses looking to service a growing demand for environmentally friendly products and an EU ban on single-use plastics set for 2021. So whilst the future isn’t looking prosperous for plastic straw manufacturers, the reusable metal straw market has emerged.

For this reason, reviewing your existing Innovation Strategy or (for those that don’t have one) creating one is a must-do exercise and the best place to start is by conducting an innovation diagnostic. Here’s where ATI’s Business Innovation Advisors are on hand to help. In doing so, you and your employees will benefit from the valuable innovation knowledge, tools and frameworks used by our IKE certified innovation experts.

So what is an innovation diagnostic?

An innovation diagnostic is a way to understand how your organisation is managing innovation and looks to recognise areas which are working well, as well as highlighting the parts where more effort is needed. This process enables objective reflection and analysis from the a third party perspective, allowing businesses to upgrade their innovation capabilities if they are not well aligned with what is actually going on in the day-to-day running of the business.

Why do an innovation diagnostic?

The sole purpose of the exercise is to understand the innovation process as it currently is. Looking internally at how your organisation is functioning in terms of innovation is the best way to evaluate its existing capabilities and avoid wasting valuable resources (time and money) on the changes that nobody wants – we’re not looking to encourage expensive fads with hazy goals that frankly aren’t going to achieve what they set out to do. It’s all about keeping your business relevant and ahead of the curve by adopting innovation practices that will help maintain a competitive advantage and develop new processes, products and services effectively.

Here’s how looking inwards has advantageous outcomes:

Start with data!

We encourage the businesses we work with to gather insights from within your organisation and set grounds for evidence based decision making. We look for facts rather than opinions. Identifying what you don’t know and what you need to find out will be a fundamental outcome of your innovation diagnostic.

Data collection and its findings will also help the design of an Innovation Strategy that is tailored to your business needs. Every company will be unique, depending on your existing capabilities, processes, routines, knowledge, legacy and understanding about what innovation means and how you go about it.

Avoid top-down mandates

To develop an effective innovation processes, the voice of your employees is integral. We recommend applying a ‘Design Thinking’ approach to your business so that you have a 360° vantage point which can only be achieved by seeing from multiple perspectives. Involving your employees in the process is also a great way to get buy-in, especially should you need their cooperation to implement any change(s).

Be aware of and inspired by what’s happening externally

Start with data!

Once again, when conducting an innovation diagnostic, we look externally at market research to highlight desirable markets and monitor growth and decline. It’s important to keep an eye on current trends, political and environmental impacts (local, national and global), as well as identify potential disrupters, such as: new businesses, emerging markets, disruptive technology and new ways of doing things.

This exercise provides a holistic view of the external environmental factors that present challenges, opportunities and threats to your business – all of which will inform your long-term innovation strategy and inspires new ways of thinking. It may be that a lack of resource makes it unfeasible to become early adopters and innovators, but it can highlight small actions that can be taken to become more competitive in the present, and allow you to plan and prepare your business for those changes in the future.

Work with ATI’s Business Innovation Advisors

Our experts work collaboratively with businesses and the support offered is entirely tailored to your requirements. The first step to assessing your innovation capabilities is to book your innovation diagnostic with ATI’s Business Innovation Advisors. Register your interest in the program or email ati@plymouth.ac.uk today.

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