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9 April 2013

Start your innovations from your inner strengths

In our most recent Yearly Marketing Survey, we found out that marketers didn’t find that magic formula for Innovation yet. Capturing ideas is a good start, but innovation also needs some strategy.

Do the 3 value disciplines of Treasy & Wiersema: Operational Excellence, Product Leadership and Customer Intimacy ring a Bell? What do they have to do with Innovation you think? I believe, a lot. If you have chosen an explicit value discipline and organize all your company tasks & processes around this, you should as well do Innovation according to that same value discipline.

  • Companies having Product Leadership as value differentiator should follow the “Technology Pusher” innovation strategy. They will rely on their inner strength of their R&D department and internal ideation techniques to develop novel products. As a sales & marketing tactic, they will push the product in the market (evangelization of the market). (Example: Philips with the CD player)
  • Operational excellence companies should adopt a “Smart Market Follower” innovation approach. They will see what innovations of others are successful and then use their inner strength of their efficiency to be a smart follower and create & launch a slightly better or cheaper product. (Example Chinese copy-cats)
  • Lastly Customer Intimacy focused companies should orient there innovation efforts around “Need Fulfilling”. These companies will do a lot of prior research to find unmet (present and future) consumers needs and create the most customer friendly solutions for these, even often using co-creation. (Example: Internetshop Cool Blue)


I believe that Innovation doesn’t have a magic formula, but focusing on your inner strengths will give you a good head-start. Another important factor of success is to give your innovation teams the breathing space they need for their innovations, including acceptance of failures. We should not forget that not all of Apples products were big hits…