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Cris Beswick

Author, Speaker + Strategic Advisor on Innovation

Read more from Cris Beswick

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Why an innovation strategy is vital


“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win” Sun TzuThe Art of War

We’re going to have a new innovation strategy …so you and you go off and start inventing stuff, you change your team so that it operates in a more innovative way and for the rest of you I’ve created a pot of money which will be available to put to any ideas which you say are innovative!

Sounds plausible? No of course not but in far too many organisations that is exactly how the leadership announces potential changes of direction. They’ve seen the metrics, they’ve got really excited about how the change of direction will really boost profitability and they just want to dive in and get moving. But there is only one way in which that approach is going to end and that is in defeat.  

Outstanding leaders know that if they are going to successfully inculcate a new strategy or culture then the more attention which is paid to the groundwork the better. And when it comes to something as fundamental as a transforming culture around innovation, following the process is vital if leadership teams are going to engage hearts and minds in a completely different behavioural model. Success depends on stepping through the process; firstly developing an aligned innovation strategy, then developing innovation leaders and only then opening up the organisation to building a sustainable innovation culture.

It is the first stage, defining the innovation strategy which will set the seal on future success or otherwise. The innovation strategy should:

• Clearly set out the vision for the organisation and the importance of innovation

• Define the way in which innovation is aligned to the existing corporate strategy

• Outline a roadmap for change aligned to the above and identify the milestones along the way

• Create a change strategy which includes not only the organisation but third parties such as suppliers, partners, subject matter experts and customers

Once the strategy is clear then the second phase is to identify and train innovation leaders who will help drive the innovation message throughout the organisation. Some will be those who are already in leadership positions but don’t ignore the importance of leaders without a title, those who hold influential sway over their colleagues as they are just as much champions of innovation and just as influential. Whoever the change leaders are, there is inevitably going to be an element of training. This may include:

• Communication - learning to articulate the vision and enthuse others via all for,s of communication

• Change management - learning to lead others through innovation-led change and to overcome objections

• Leadership - moving from hierarchy and demarcation to flatter more collaborative structures

Only when the strategy has been clearly articulated and defined and the innovation change team has been trained, should an organisation move into the final phase; that of building and embedding an innovation culture. Quick wins along the way will help the process as will the full support of the change team. 90% of business leaders in large UK companies say people and culture are the most important factors for driving innovation and that is true but it will only work when a pragmatic innovation strategy has been developed at the outset. Innovation is not a nice to have or a module that can simply be bolted on to an existing business. It is an organisation-wide root and branch capability drive which if successful will deliver real competitive advantage, exceptional customer experiences and growth.

f you’ve got a question on innovation feel free to email Cris at [email protected] or visit for more information on how Cris and his team help some of the worlds smartest companies succeed through innovation.

Author Profile Picture
Cris Beswick

Author, Speaker + Strategic Advisor on Innovation

Read more from Cris Beswick

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