Innovation or Strategy?

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Two of the most used words in the business environment today are innovation and strategy. We've talked about them so much that when a business leader is looking for something different, they say: I want something innovative, or something more strategic. So much has been said that we have even debated which one is more important than the other or which one should be the one that prevails today.

Innovation and strategy are not a substitute for each other. Successful companies locally and globally dedicate resources to both.

Innovation is the process by which ideas are generated to promote changes in the company by outlining new offers, services and products from unique ideas to meet the needs of today's consumer, to compete, or to create new industries and business models. Innovation, like strategy, is not a new concept, it has been around us since the beginning of time and it becomes more and more relevant with the increase in competition and technology.

But what is a great idea if it is not executed? What if it's wrongly executed?

A great idea without the correct execution can be very expensive for a company. Furthermore, how many ideas have you had that have remained in a drawer without being carried out?

In a study conducted with 392 local companies in Puerto Rico, we learned that over 75% of the companies have started some type of innovation program or strategic plan to promote change in their company, and it was never implemented. The main reasons why continuity does not occur are:

  • lack of knowledge of the team on how to carry out the execution
  • lack of time or commitment from team members
  • very aggressive ideas that lack focus
  • lack of necessary resources
  • lack of processes
  • lack of communication with the execution team.

The strategic development process is a constant process that is worked in the short, medium and long term so that innovative ideas can be carried out within the available resources, successfully and in a realistic time. Strategy is the point where innovation meets execution and turns into real results.

To be competitive today, companies need to work on both. Without strategy there is no direction and without innovation relevance is lost. For an integrated effort we recommend:

  • be clear about who your client is and stay aligned with their needs
  • establish a team within your organization that dedicates time to the process of constant innovation and experimentation
  • test your ideas in the shortest time possible and move on to the next idea until you find a unique offering
  • integrate your team or strategic consultant into the equation early in decision making,
    • together define what it takes to be successful,
    • where, how and when it will take place
    • what processes, resources and tools are necessary to achieve consistent results
  • assign a strategic leader within the organization who is in charge of leading efforts and making decisions with your client in mind and for the benefit of your organization

While strategy is still one of the most used words in business, it is seen more as a distinction of value and not as an integrated process that is necessary throughout the year both for the implementation of new projects and for the sustainability and growth of the business.

Establishing a good strategy requires a consistent and logical process for selecting one set of options versus the other. A good strategy must adapt to the needs of the moment to achieve the vision and purpose of the business, adapting as many times as necessary to the benefit of the company, be clear and consider in detail as many variables as possible for the operational success of the company.

Innovation on the other hand, has to do with possibility and experimentation. The sum of both in their correct doses form progress. It is above all the failure and success of the innovation process an important part in the future success of the strategy and the company.

By: Hebé Lugo, President and Founder of Strategic Minds
Twitter: @HebeLugo

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