How to create a successful business innovation strategy

The phrase ‘business innovation’ is thrown around a lot. So much so that it’s become a bit of a buzzword.

But there’s a reason it’s such a well-used term.

Businesses need innovation to survive. It’s as simple as that. Without it, you risk falling behind in the marketplace and losing business to competitors. And if you don’t turn things around, you’ll eventually be out of business.

In this article, we’ll take you through the ins and outs of business innovation. We’ll outline some of the key benefits that come with using it and how to create a successful business innovation strategy.

First things first, let’s start from the top: What actually is business innovation?

What is business innovation?

Business innovation is the creation of new ideas. Whether that’s with a new process, product, or service, the innovation team produces new ideas that will support the growth and development of the business.

There are two types of business innovation:

  • External: Creating a new product or service for consumers.
  • Internal: Improving internal systems and processes.

Whatever type of innovation a business chooses to do, the end goal will always be to improve the business and increase sales.

An example of business innovation:

Just Mad, a product design and innovation consultancy, noticed that a lot of their clients were struggling to get from an initial idea to launch in one smooth process. There were a lot of reasons for this, which varied from business to business.

Lack of direction, timeframes, and having too many ideas at once are a few of the common challenges.

Example of how Just Mad's ideation process struggled to get from start to finish
Just Mad’s ideation process struggled to get from start to finish

As you can imagine, these challenges affected the success of both the client’s results and Just Mad’s ability to predict the duration and outcome of the project.

To better serve their clients with distributed teams, Just Mad adopted a new process: design sprints. By innovating this process, they were able to offer more flexibility while still delivering an end result within a specific timeframe.

Put simply — business innovation allowed Just Mad to streamline the entire design process for their clients.

Why is business innovation important?

Are there any other reasons why business innovation is important besides increasing sales and growing your business?

In short, yes.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of business innovation.

Keep up with changes in the marketplace

No matter what industry you’re from, the marketplace is constantly changing. And if your business doesn’t keep up with these changes, you might find yourself in a sticky situation.

Take a look at the hybrid work model as an example. 47% of employees would leave their job if their company didn’t offer hybrid work when the pandemic came to an end.

Business leaders had to reevaluate how employees would work when normality began creeping back in. By the end of 2021, 76% of employees are working at a company that allows hybrid work.

Without keeping up with changes and focusing on business innovation, a lot of companies would’ve lost some of their workforce. By adapting their internal processes, they were able to keep up with the changes in the marketplace.

Differentiate yourself from competitors

A lot of businesses operate in overcrowded and saturated markets. In most cases, it’s hard to cut through the noise and stand out from the crowd.

This is where business innovation can help.

When implemented correctly, business innovation allows businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors. Take a look at the innovation management process to see for yourself.

Stage one is idea generation, a key part of which is conducting competitor analysis.

Five key stages of the innovation process
The five key stages of the innovation process that most businesses follow

You’ll spend some time reviewing what your key competitors are doing, what they’re not doing, and who they’re targeting. By doing so, you’ll have a better understanding of what you can do to differentiate yourself and gain a competitive advantage.

Without this part of the innovation process, you might struggle to find the most effective way to improve your processes or expand your products or services.

The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time launching something new only for it to fall by the wayside because it doesn’t stand apart from the competition.

Streamline internal processes

When done right, process innovation allows you to streamline your processes, increase productivity, and minimize risk.

Let’s use business process automation as an example.

When you collaborate with the innovation team and discuss new ideas, you notice that there are a lot of repetitive and mundane tasks that take up a lot of time. It becomes clear that your processes could be more efficient with automation.

By automating parts of your business processes, your entire workflow becomes much more streamlined. As a result, team members have more time to focus on other areas of the business.

Improve the customer experience

Whether you’re innovating internally or externally, business innovation should always meet customer demands and improve the customer experience.

Let’s look at Guidewire as an example.

The company used Miro to innovate its internal processes. Here’s what the company did:

  • Digitized note-taking and brainstorming to streamline in-person workshops.
  • Improved internal cross-functional collaboration to streamline workflows.
  • Shared Miro boards virtually with customers for concept walkthroughs.
Miro's whiteboard helping teams improve their internal processes
Miro’s whiteboard can help teams improve their internal processes

All of these innovations improved their processes and made their day-to-day work more efficient. But as a result, Guidewire could also provide a better experience to its customers.

So although business innovation benefits the efficiency and productivity of your business, all of this still contributes towards providing a better customer experience.

How to create a successful business innovation strategy

A business innovation strategy provides structure and alignment to your innovation efforts. It outlines the goals and timeline and ensures that all of your innovation activity aligns with the company strategy.

So how do you create a business innovation strategy?

Every business is different, so each business will need a different strategy.

However, you must follow some key steps to give your strategy the best chance of success — and that’s exactly what we’re going to outline in this section.

But before we get into the thick of it, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where are you now?
  • Where do you want to be?
  • How will you get there?

Your strategy should aim to answer all these questions, so keep this in mind as we move through the stages of the process.

Conduct an innovation assessment

First, you’ll start by conducting an innovation assessment to determine your company’s current level of innovation. It’s also known as an innovation audit.

The assessment will show you what innovative efforts are already underway, what works well, and help you spot any room for improvement.

If you’re not familiar with an innovation assessment, here’s a breakdown of all the stages:

Outline of the key stages required to conduct an innovation assessment
The key stages required to conduct an innovation assessment

Let’s look at these in more detail.


1. Innovation audit survey

Start by looking internally and conducting an innovation survey. This should be sent to everyone across all departments and should aim to find out how innovation works in the business and what innovative efforts are already underway.

2. Analyze the results

Once you’ve received answers to the survey, spend some time analyzing the results.

Throughout this process, you should be able to see where your innovation capabilities are and how they might be restricted going forward. It’ll also identify gaps between how management perceives the innovation process and how it works in the business.


3. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups

Face-to-face interviews and focus groups take place so you can get a deeper understanding from management-level staff across different departments. It’s an opportunity for you to dig deeper into their perception of the current innovation efforts and capabilities.

By the end of the interviews, you should have a clear picture of how management sees the development of innovation and an understanding of the innovation process as a whole.

4. Analyze and cluster the results

Similar to phase one, you’ll now need to analyze all the feedback. But this time, you can start to cluster your results. This involves recognizing patterns and grouping these concepts.

Using an online whiteboard can be helpful for this process, as you can easily spot any commonalities. If you record all the interviews separately, it’ll be harder to spot trends.

Example of a team using Miro's online whiteboard
Use Miro’s online whiteboard to help analyze and cluster results from research

We’d also suggest grouping the information based on different parts of the business innovation process. For example, you could start to categorize feedback into the following areas:

  • Innovation strategy
  • Resource allocation
  • Innovation types (more on this later)
  • Company culture
  • Strengths and weaknesses (sometimes known as a SWOT analysis)
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Decision making

By categorizing your research in this way, you won’t miss any vital information. It also makes it easier for you to visualize the trends across these different areas.


5. Comparative data analysis

Now that you’ve got your quantitative and qualitative data, it’s time to compare the two. This is where you’ll be able to see the gaps between what management perceives in relation to innovation and what their team members actually see in their day-to-day work.

6. Conclusion

You’ve considered various accounts and identified trends across the board. You can now determine where your business stands with innovation from an unbiased and objective viewpoint.

Choose your innovation type

There are different types of innovation to be aware of. To make the most out of your innovation strategy, you need to understand what these are and how to use them.

The four main types are disruptive, radical, incremental, and adjacent. Let’s look at these in more detail:

Table outlining the four key types of innovation
The four key types of innovation

Figuring out which type of innovation suits your business depends on several factors. These include some of the following:

  • The industry you work in
  • Your revenue and profits
  • Your target market
  • Customer demand
  • The marketplace as a whole
  • Your competitors
  • Your budget for innovation

Ultimately, it’s up to you to identify what works well for your business and which type of innovation you need to succeed. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with the different types of innovation, and you’ll be in a good position to choose the right option for your business.

Identify where you want to be with specific goals and objectives

You’ve got a firm grasp on where you currently stand with your innovation activities and capabilities. Now, it’s time to figure out where you want to be.

To do this effectively, you need to identify your goals and objectives. These will shape your innovation mission statement, which will guide your entire strategy.

Goals are also a great way to measure progress as you start to roll out your innovation, especially if you have milestones to hit along the way.

If you don’t reach the milestones, you know you’re not on track to hit your deadline. You can be proactive and make changes to get yourself back on track.

Usually, the motivation behind the strategy falls into one of the following categories:

  • Strategic: Long-term goals that will help the company grow. This might not produce vast financial returns in the short term, but it can help fool-proof your business for the future.
  • Financial: Your motivation is solely to increase profits or cut costs.
  • Hybrid: A mixture of the above.

Whether your goal is strategic, financial, or a mixture of both, be clear about this sooner rather than later. Knowing what your goal is will make sure that your innovation strategy stays on track and supports the success of your business.

When it comes to creating goals, we’d suggest using the SMART goals framework.

Miro's SMART goals template
Use Miro’s SMART goals template to create coals that are clear, achievable, and effective

Table of contents

12 min read

What is business innovation?

Why is business innovation important?

How to create a successful business innovation strategy

Create your business innovation strategy with Miro

With the SMART goals framework, your goals will be clear, achievable, and effective.

And when creating goals, don’t forget to take the overall business goals into account. Everything must align with the business’s overall strategy to help your business grow and succeed.

How to use miro to boost your innovation strategy

Creating a business strategy of any kind requires the right software. If you’re not using the right software, the planning and execution will be harder than it needs to be.

Using Miro’s online whiteboard, you’ll have access to a variety of features and functions that’ll make it easy to boost your innovation strategy. Let’s look at what they are:

  • Collaboration: Being able to collaborate with your team throughout the innovation process is vital. If you don’t, you risk alienating team members and making the innovation process harder to manage. With Miro, teams can video chat and comment capabilities in the software you’re using. These features will make it easier for you to communicate and collaborate with your team.
  • Real-time access: Real-time access to your innovation strategy is a huge bonus. Why? Because it means that you (and anyone in your team) can see the most up-to-date information. All you have to do is open the software, and you can see how things are progressing. Not to mention, the information automatically updates whenever changes are made. And if you use an online tool like Miro, it’s easy for remote teams to have real-time access, too.
Remote teams using Miro to access real-time information
Use Miro to make sure remote teams have access to real-time information

Table of contents

12 min read

What is business innovation?

Why is business innovation important?

How to create a successful business innovation strategy

Create your business innovation strategy with Miro

  • Integrations: Being able to integrate with third-party tools helps you streamline the innovation process. Think about it — you can align all your platforms and tools in one location. There’s no need to flick back and forth between different platforms. Everything’s in one online whiteboard.

Create your business innovation strategy with Miro

By now, you should have a handle on the ins and outs of innovation in business. You know what it is, the benefits of using it, and how to create a successful business innovation strategy.

Now, it’s time to put your newfound knowledge to use.

Using Miro, you can start planning and preparing for your next business innovation strategy. Share your whiteboard with colleagues to get feedback, ask for their input, and make the entire process as collaborative as possible.

We’d suggest starting with our project canvas template to create a clear communication framework for your strategy. Sign up for free to get started.

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