Creating An Innovation Strategy 4 – Planning Your Trek

This is the fourth blog in a five-part series about innovation strategy. The previous blog described the organizational, customer and market environments in which your strategy would be developed and deployed. This blog examines the activities you’ll manage and perform to create your strategy.

What Trek?

Your trek is the set of activities you manage and perform to create an innovation strategy. Your requirements hierarchy identifies some activities and suggests many more. The hierarchy is summative, however, so you’ll need to add specific strategic activities to your trek. It’s best to document them in a work breakdown structure (WBS) of some kind. Categories and lists, or an outline will do. The point is to get items out of your head and onto paper where you can see and manage them, and communicate about them.

Frameworks for strategic planning processes abound. Most organize activities into phases for situation/environmental analysis, direction-setting, assignment and alignment of activities, and then execution, monitoring, and evaluation. Phases are called different things in different methods, and some identify and group activities differently. Every approach fulfills those functions, however, and to create an effective innovation strategy your process should as well.

Use a framework you like, or which your organization uses, and then add to it. Creating an innovation strategy is a specific type of strategic planning, and with it comes specific requirements. In addition to activities relevant to any strategic planning, your trek must plan activities to determine the following:

  • Which components of the business model it might change, by how much
  • Which components of the technology model change it might change, by how much
  • How the combination of business and technology model changes will create organizational culture and behavior change along three dimensions:
    • Depth, or how far into the organizational structure/hierarchy change will be felt
    • Size, or how many people will be impacted
    • Extent, or the degree to which strategy will change fundamental aspects of the organization’s beliefs, values, assumptions, etc.
  • How the organization will continuously learn about the customer, what they value, and what your organization might do different to add value for them
  • How the organization will continuously do something different to add value for the customer
  • How the organization will continuously scan the environment to understand impacts in both directions, as it innovates
  • How the organization will continuously adjust thinking and activity to create and recreate conditions for successful innovation
  • How the organization will continuously plan and assess the value of innovation for the organization

These additional innovation strategy requirements will also help you fill out the requirements hierarchy, and vice versa. Many of these activities meet Functional, Design, or Material Requirements, or inform decision making about them. Meeting these additional requirements will help produce an effective innovation strategy, one which improves and eventually optimizes the way your organization thinks and acts to innovate.

What Next?

The next blog in this series, Using Your Map And Compass, offers tools for implementing your innovation strategy.

Read my complete paper on Creating an Innovation Strategy on my Resources Page. There you’ll also find papers on What Is Innovation and Standing Up An Innovation Center. Look for all my innovation blogs at

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