Strategy Matters: Aligning Innovation Strategy with Business Strategy

Extract from article by Tendayi Viki

Last week PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) published their innovation benchmark report. The findings highlighted in the report are an important contribution to knowledge in our field. However, the finding that stood out the most for me concerns the role of strategy. The PwC report makes it quite clear that executives are not just investing in innovation for the fun of it. The ultimate goal of their investments is to sustain and grow their companies over the long term. This goal is reflected in the finding that executives view sales growth as the most important metric for measuring the success of innovation. This metric is far more important than vanity metrics such as the number of products teams are working on or the number of new ideas in the pipeline.

While it may be necessary for companies to invest some resources in the creation of R&D labs or corporate accelerators, this by itself is not sufficient. I have encountered some innovation leaders who believe that innovation is about “letting a thousand flowers bloom”. However, the report shows that such ‘random acts of innovation’ do not always result in great returns. Companies should not be investing in a random collection of unrelated projects. There has to be some connection between our innovation strategy and the company’s overall business strategy.

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