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    Tools for fast strategic innovation: part 1

    I recently did my EMBA in Business Renewal on this topic, witnessing the lack in both academic research and existing tools aimed for strategic innovation. Inspired, I created a set of practical tools and a process that should help anyone involved in innovating and validating new business. This part introduces the topic, and I will be explaining this method in more detail in the following posts.

    Inspiration for this topic stems from my primary motivation in work-life: to be able to creatively combine tools and methods from different areas (business development, service and UX design, product development, Lean) in order to to provide the best possible outcome for business-related problems. And I want to be fast about it: delivering value in the shortest time means we're not wasting anyone's key resources, typically time and money.

    After working in different design-related roles for 20 years — mainly with businesses in need of digital products and services (such is probably the case with all businesses nowadays?) — I finally feel I'm starting to have a grasp on how the business problems should and can be tackled.

    Don't limit your perspective too much

    The thing is, when doing strategic innovation or, in other words, "designing and validating initiatives that have real business potential," one should not limit the perspective to any specific angle.

    When the questions typically are:

    • "We have a business/service/product idea: how to proceed?",
    • "When and how should we start the development?",
    • "What about the markets and competition?",
    • "How can we be more customer-centric?",
    • "Why do we need to care about end-users at this point?",
    • "How does this fit into our overall product portfolio?",
    • "How can we make sure this supports our strategy?",
    • "Can we make sure this new initiative gets us onboard the digitalization train?"
    • and most importantly, "Should we invest in this or not?"

    sole financial focus will likely be as useful as tackling the problem purely from the end-user or customer point-of-view.

    Don't get me wrong; these perspectives are absolutely needed. It's just that when we need to be able to identify and answer all the critical questions on which we can base the decision of whether or not to invest, the first steps of strategic innovation need to happen quickly while still providing the essential information from all relevant perspectives, including topics like:

    • the customer needs
    • the end-user
    • the company strategy & vision
    • product development and possible portfolio
    • technical implementation
    • the markets
    • the competition
    • macro-economic forces and future.


    I claim that you don't need to be an expert in all of these topics. We have the Internet full of information and resourceful people to ask from. The key is to have the right combination of tools and methods to help you to find the relevant answers and a process that supports you to do this fast. It's also essential that the tools are easily reusable and generic enough to fit different contexts.

    Introducing a process and tools for fast strategic innovation

    I recently did my EMBA in Business Renewal on this topic, witnessing the lack in both academic research and existing tools aimed for strategic innovation. Inspired, I created a set of practical tools and a process that should help anyone involved in innovating and validating new business. The process guides in combining data from multiple relevant angles, leading to producing a report that answers to "Should we proceed with the innovation and invest in it or not?" within a week.

    I will be explaining this method in more detail in the following posts, including topics like:

    • What is critical for succeeding in strategic innovation, and how to avoid the risks of failure
    • What kind of methods and processes are most suitable for strategic innovation?
    • Introducing the created set of tools and the supporting process in detail.
    • Assessing the potential, effectiveness, and future development needs of the created method.

    Author

    Heidi Vaarala