Innovation strategy models typically follow this uninspired recipe
– let's encourage employee ideas, throw together a business case,
justify the costs and operating budget, dish-up a marketing
strategy and production project plan, hope for the best.
There are other organizations who believe in innovation
strategies which heavily depend on setting up and managing
arrangements, special relationships or partnerships with their
supplier community. I am not trying to find fault with those
methods, however, my argument is with those who are provided to
act as the agents of innovative leadership.
What is the purpose of an innovation strategy? We innovate to
take advantage of the opportunities caused by change. For
example, prayer is a strategy we use to cope with our personal
challenges. And "prayer" , as philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard so
aptly observed, "God does not change, but it changes him who
Simply stated, it is not the strategy that changes, it is we who
change as we employ our strategy and use it to encourage,
energize, enlighten and engage ourselves to strive for achieving
its objectives. In a word, our innovation strategies can not be
expected to change the world, our strategy must compel us to
change the ways we think about, react to and perform in the
"Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive
for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better
opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable. "
– William Pollard
Innovative Leadership Guide-1: Thinking through your innovation
"Innovation is not the product of logical thought, although the
result is tied to logical structure. "
– Albert Einstein
Your innovation strategy model must enable you to execute four
- It has to help you recognize the components of a changing landscape [explore],
- It must expose you to the needs imposed upon your ecosystems by the change [create]
- It should allow you through the changes you hope to exploit [implement],
- It must empower you to adapt to the changes in your marketplace and your offering [supervise].
Innovative leadership means finding clearly defined pathways
through the territories you operate within – this includes the
environments of your organization, partners, markets and
end-customers. Innovative leaders channel or direct the shared,
received and transmitted energies found in their ecosystems of
profound knowledge, work processes and social relationships.
Innovation leadership uses the innovation strategy model as a
- 1) Directing innovative activities; 2) Developing critical systems, resources and assets; 3) Disciplining the process, purpose and players of innovation
Innovative Leadership Guide-2: Reacting to your innovation
Your innovative leadership team uses the innovation strategy
model to tweak, adjust and maintain its course towards
successful outcomes. The most effective strategy models provide
- Windows on historical, internal and external circumstance [Realities];
- Mechanisms to control and adjust to changes [Dynamic Controls]
- Applications of energy to inspire, relieve and educate [Leadership];
- Metrics which expose changes, dependencies and transfers [Ecosystem Management];
- Revelations of beliefs, meanings and feelings [Coordinated Communications];
- Relationships between the observed, measured and assumed [Progress Dashboards];
- Opportunity "areas" where the strategy can be executed [Organic Leveraging].
"Cast aside those who liken godliness to whimsy and who try to
combine their greed for wealth with their desire for a happy
afterlife. " – Kahlil Gibran
If your innovation strategy model depends on a "kiss from the
muse ", a" bright idea "and some similar" eureka "experience, you'll
have very few and far between innovations emerging from your
Innovative Leadership Guide-3: Performing on the promises of an
innovation strategy model
"Never before in history has innovation offered promise of so
much to so many in so short a time. "
– Bill Gates
Back in the Industrial Age, we followed a series of steps, made
use of equipment and mechanized systems and relied on prodigious
amounts of fiscal and human capital to achieve the promises of
success. We may live in a different era, I call it, the
Imagination Economy, yet we need the same amounts of effort and
focus to realize our goals.
A few years ago, our competitive advantages were based upon our
ability to shape raw information into forms of relevant,
applicable knowledge. Today, we compete against the imaginations
of others – we have to slice and dice knowledge and blend it
with universal wisdom, intuitive know-how and meaningful
what-ifs to produce sustainable, profitable, productive
In the Imagination Age, innovative leadership will be called
upon to map-out the complexities, model optimal congruencies and
mold evolutionary conceptualizations of our world. Leaders will
meet the many challenges of this new Age by seeing people as
four dimensional beings – that is, as physical, intellectual,
spiritual and developmental entities.
Innovative leadership will use their innovation strategy models
to fully exploit and leverage the many strengths of their
available human capital assets – intellectual and physical assets
[think and do], production and social assets [process and
interact], as well as, innovative and developmental assets [learn and imagine].
"Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship
act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth. "
– Peter F. Drucker
A model for your innovation strategies is an essential
ingredient in your organization's competitive recipe – without
such a model, your business will lack the flavor of innovating.
Your customers, constituents and communities may begin to
perceive the staleness of your old, crumbling offers and stop
putting your products on their shelves.
You need to mix together all the elements of an innovation
strategy model listed above and use these innovative leadership
guidelines to manage and energize your strategy. Innovation is
industry and it requires persistent, determined effort. And just
like the industries of old, innovation can follow a process, it
can use capital assets, it can be measured or assessed and it
can be led and managed.
"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead there were there no
path and leave a trail. "
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Copyright © 2006, Mustard Seed Investments Inc., All Rights