Nearly all innovative companies pursue one or more of these main innovative strategies:
- Need Seekers actively and directly engage current and potential customers to shape new products and services based on superior end-user understanding, and strive to be the first to market with those new offerings.
- Market Readers watch their customers and competitors carefully, focusing largely on creating value through incremental change and by capitalizing on proven market trends.
- Technology Drivers follow the direction suggested by their technological capabilities, leveraging their investment in research and development to drive both breakthrough innovation and incremental change, often seeking to solve the unarticulated needs of their customers via new technology.
The success of each of the strategies depends on how closely companies, in pursuing innovation, align their innovation strategy with their business strategy and how much effort they devote to directly understanding the needs of end-users. The capabilities required to pursue each strategy form a systematic set of skills, processes, and tools that companies must focus on to succeed at each stage of the innovation process.
Focusing on a systematic set of capabilities means that companies must first choose the capabilities that matter most to their particular innovation strategy, and then execute them well. Their innovation efforts must be in sync with their overall corporate strategy: They must integrate the right innovation capabilities with the right set of firm-wide capabilities, as determined by their overall strategy.
Source: Strategy + Business, Winter 2010