Innovation balances your growth between today’s priorities and tomorrow’s emerging opportunities.
Effective organizations set out a clear mission and align their actions to achieve it. As shown on the vertical axis of this diagram, the challenge comes in managing projects to achieve the mission. If the mission is unclear, or the projects poorly prioritized, actions and expenditures err to shorter term priorities. Innovators manage the horizontal axis to balance short and long term growth.
Unfortunately, human behavior seeks and too often rewards pursuing the present, rather than the future. The resulting discontinuity means your people will compromise more ambitious but difficult future goals for obvious present priorities; at best, they choose either one or the other. This skews projects to the present, leaving you with an artificial choice. “We can either meet our business plan OR we can focus on future goals.”
The right answer of course is to reframe innovation from OR to AND: align plans and activities to your mission.
At Ampersand, we depict this balancing act as the Growth Diamond™, replacing OR with AND to align your actions to your aspirations.
Frame your growth agenda by laying out a simple set of aspirations. “What are we trying to achieve, and why?”
Then craft or update your business strategy, projecting growth on the current mix of offerings to meet growth targets. Business strategy pushes forward from the present, but suffers the limitations of today’s assumptions, today’s portfolio, and today’s priorities.
By contrast, innovation strategy pulls the organization forward to the future. Innovation employs a different form of research at the intersection of predictive trends – social, economic, technological and scientific. Innovation strategy defers the limits on today’s capabilities, and instead asks “what would need to be true” to meet the emerging demand that might be otherwise ignored?
Balance business and innovation strategies by translating them into a series of interrelated projects. This single integrated pipeline ensures everyone is aligned around the right priorities. Welcome the productive tension between present and future, and manage trade-offs as a natural requirement of balanced growth.