“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” Winston Churchill
Companies, in many ways, are organic beings that shift and change. Companies can be affected by a huge variety of factors, meaning that it’s rare for a company to be able to have long term success, without constantly evolving and improving. Successful companies know that, to remain successful, they have to continuously innovate and make improvements to operations. It’s not enough to rely on the same methods. If it were, we wouldn’t have learnt how to make fire.
In order to be successful, companies need to have robust strategies that they implement. The only way of assessing the success of any strategy is to look at the results. Whether the result is improved sales, reduced admin time, reduced costs, better team management or any other metric, companies will need a strategy behind it.
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Steve Jobs
Generally, companies may fall into three camps. There are those whose strategy is to keep up with the market, those who are ahead of the market and those who lead the market.
These companies will fit into different places when it comes to innovation. The desire to make improvements, or keep up with the market means companies will merely keep up with the market. Other companies will be more focused on transformation and disruption of either their own businesses, or indeed the entire industry.
Companies who are risk averse tend to follow linear approaches to strategy, where objectives are set and road-mapping is put in place for a clear progression towards certain goals. The aim here is to make improvements, much of which could be focused on remaining competitive by reducing costs or becoming more efficient.
In our experience, linear strategies will focus on the process to reach a clear end point. They will be focused on following the path of minimum risk, with companies doing what they need to survive.
For disruptive and transformative impact, companies need to take non-linear strategies. Though there’s more risk, there’s also more potential reward. Here, it’s important to manage the risk effectively, establishing a culture where potential failure will be embraced. With non-linear strategies, companies can be more agile in their approach, focusing on prototyping, being rapid and showing the line of business units what the vision is. This is where the effort is taking place, and there’s a continuous cycle to find new routes.
These two strategies can work hand in hand, allowing a company to be agile in their approach, without compromising governance or stability. It’s as important for companies to focus on the areas that will help them to make improvements, as it is for them to focus on innovation. This bi-modal approach stretches beyond technology into general business strategy. Here, companies are looking at the future and putting steps in place to help them leapfrog against competitors, as well as focusing on what impacts on bottom line operations and costs.
“When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars people said, ‘Nah, what’s wrong with a horse?’ That was a huge bet he made, and it worked.” Elon Musk
With every improvement, innovation or evolution, it’s important for companies to understand where they are at the moment, who is involved in making changes and how they will be put into place. Companies need to have a roadmap in place that looks at the priorities now, over the next 90 days and into the future, by at least three years. The vision should be about what the company wants to achieve and what its goals are.
It’s important to define the vision of the future, by looking at where you think clients will be, how they will engage, what your environment looks like, what employees look like and where you ideally want to be. On the roadmap, it’s important to define the major outcomes and objectives you want to achieve.
From there, it’s important to work backwards to the technology to find the best solution to solving problems or being innovative. Technology is now fully focused on mobility and mobile devices, whether they are laptops, tablets, smartphones or wearables. It is these devices that are the current, and the future, of the way in which business is done and stakeholders engage.
Every major computer company is focusing on building out its tools for mobile, understanding the need for employees to be able to work seamlessly, regardless of the device they use. In today’s business world, mobile strategy is business strategy. It is mobile that is helping companies to not only improve their businesses, but also to transform their operations and disrupt their industries.
Here are our four tips for approaching strategy and innovation:
- Linear and Non-Linear Mobile Strategy approaches can co-exist.
- Linear is more suitable for improvement and use in enterprise mobility. Non-linear is more suitable for disruption and client facing mobility.
- For championing projects within the linear strategy, a business case should be built identifying ROI. For championing projects within the non linear strategy, it will involve rapid prototyping and showing line of business how the disruption and transformation is envisaged.
- To keep moving forward, start understanding what you need to do to both improve and define the vision of the future.