I was raised to have a healthy sense of curiosity. For example, my dad – being an engineer – decided that playtime was the perfect opportunity to show me how to disassemble our family computer and put it all back together again, just to see how it worked! The residual effect this has had on my adult life is obvious, especially when I look at the individuals I admire and learn the most from, such as Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen (or, as I like to call him, Captain Curiosity).

His sense of curiosity led him to conduct years of research into the ingredients that made up a successful organisation. His work was published years later in his bestselling book, ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma‘. Professor Christensen explains that successful organisations seemed to follow the golden rules of strategy, such as market segmentation, focusing on the most profitable customers, etc. Some 10 years or so later, he returned to those organisations to find them either dead, or knocking on death’s door. This lead to a controversial statement at the time, that ‘good management causes companies to fail’.

The reality was that because these organisations continued to focus on their core (existing market share, products and services), they left themselves wide open to disruption. Competitors that were coming in at the bottom end of the market with a low cost offering just weren’t seen as a threat. But over time these competitors grew, and in doing so captured more market share, and eventually overtook the incumbents.

The secret to a successful innovation strategy is to balance efforts across sustaining innovations, as well as breakthrough and disruptive innovations.

What this looks like in practice is the development of Innovation Missions. These focus employee efforts on incremental, breakthrough and disruptive innovation – concurrently.

Below are some tips to get you started:

  • Distill your innovation strategy from your organisational strategy – confirm how you are aiming to stay relevant, how you will grow and how you will focus your efforts on the most beneficial areas.
  • Clarify where you will focus efforts on sustaining innovation – existing products and services, internal innovations, etc.
  • Identify areas to explore breakthrough and disruptive innovation – research macro-trends within and beyond your industry, and identify barriers to consumption that your customers are facing and lower them.

If you’re interested in finding out more on how to drive a sustainable approach to innovation, you should check out our Leading Innovation Program. The program has been designed specifically for senior leaders of organisations, and delves into the detail of innovation strategy, as well as the 8 other elements of Inventium’s best practice innovation framework.

So if innovation strategy is your jam – or maybe you’re a Curiosity Captain as well, I’d love to hear from you! You can find me on email, judy@inventium.com.au, or on Twitter, @fasttrackjudy. For now, have a great rest of the day!