Why Your Organization Needs an Innovation StrategyToday is the 10 year anniversary of the announcement of the iPhone.

(Heeeey….don’t we all feel old now? You’re welcome.)

Which makes it an excellent day to think about your organization’s innovation strategy—or why you need one, if it doesn’t yet exist.

EVERY organization—whether one person or 10,000 people—must have an innovation strategy.

It must cover two very important ways innovation will affect your organization (because it will, whether you want it to or not):

  • The innovation you bring to the market.
  • How you respond to the innovation the market brings to you.

Why Service Companies Need an Innovation Strategy

When you are a service company, as most communications agencies are (and for that matter, when you are a service-focused professional), it’s very, very easy to sit back and think innovation is for “product” companies.

And that’s the quickest way for you to go out of business.

An innovation strategy is needed for every company, because as the world changes, it changes how we do business.

Even more so, it changes the way we communicate—which is what we specialize in, as professional communicators.

It could be argued that it’s more important for communicators to have an innovation strategy, than tech or SaaS companies, because any innovation affects us first.

The services you offer today, will not make any sense five or 10 years from now, so unless you have an innovation strategy, you’ll be left behind.

Stop and think about how much has changed in how we live and work because of the iPhone.

Think Blockbuster vs. (innovation focused) Netflix…

Or the dire state of malls


I could go on.

Rule of Innovation: Once You’re Ahead, You’re Behind

When developing any innovation strategy, it’s important to remember the golden rule of innovation: As soon as you are the leader, you are falling behind.

So if what you do or sell is revolutionary, state-of-the-art, X-Men level of new fangled thinking, you can guarantee as soon as you announce or launch it, you have about three seconds before someone is on your heels.

Think of the innovation cycle like buying a car. As soon as you take it off the lot it depreciates painfully fast.

The only way to survive this is to accept that innovation never stops.

Success is a thinking man’s (or woman’s) sport. You constantly need to be watching and preparing for how you will adjust to the next trends and opportunities.

A good example here is the Palm Pilot.

When I was visiting my parents during the holidays, I found my old, ooooold Palm Pilot, tucked in the back of a drawer.

The Palm Pilot WAS the “next big thing,” it was impossible to use, and took eight times longer than just writing things down on a note pad and paper, but it was one of the leaders in “personal digital assistants,”…..until it wasn’t (even sadder the article linked here only has three shares..…that’s just embarrassing).

Why Your Organization Needs an Innovation Strategy

Note, by the reflection, how my Dad took a photo of my old, archaic Palm Pilot with his iPhone. Ironic much?

Your Reactive Innovation Strategy

Which brings us to the next part of innovation—the one the market brings to you.

New innovation changes the way we do everything.

Take a moment and think about how the following changed how you work and do business:

  • Email.
  • The iPhone (or the smartphone).
  • Social media.

These are all things that have come into existence during most of our working careers.

And they’ve changed everything.

Companies that were able to adapt and prepared as they saw these changes coming down the road, thrived.

The rest did not.

Innovation is happening more quickly than ever before.

That requires us to be more forward-thinking and prepare for how the things in development right now WILL change our roles forever.

How does your organization prepare for innovation? Do you actively build an innovation strategy?

Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name. Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

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