Coming out of the Covid19 pandemic, everyone is wondering what the new normal will look like.

With disruption comes opportunity. It gives innovators the chance to rethink organizational goals, models, and tools to accelerate innovation. During our recent Innov8rs Connect Unconference, Sopheon's Chief Technology Officer Paul Heller shared how to prepare now for getting better out of this crisis.

Companies operate on varying business models, and have different approaches to adapting to Covid19. For every business, however, there should be three primary considerations:

  • What’s the right pace?
  • What’s the right investment?
  • What’s the right focus?

The answers to these 3 innovation questions will be determined by the corporate business model(s).

A snippet from Paul Heller’s session during the Innov8rs Connect Unconference, June-September 2020. To watch the full session recording, join Innov8rs Community with a Content or Premium Pass.

Innovating Responsibly

Being agile as an organization means being able to reconfigure strategy, structure, processes, people and technology quickly towards value-creating and value-protecting opportunities. Focus on the following to place your business in the best position to respond with agility:

  • Accelerate best practices around collaboration, flexibility, inclusion and accountability
  • Accelerate the transition to agility – focus on agility as priority
  • Accelerate investments in innovation, partnerships and reporting
  • Have good discipline in the company around data and how it is used
  • Be willing to move earlier, faster, and more decisively

Don’t confuse activity as productivity. It is often beneficial to hit pause and re-evaluate existing products, business assumptions, and business cases. Consider redoing the financials and implementing or adjusting scorecards to the new reality. You may need to push a project back to an earlier gate if feasibility and business case have changed, based on the shifting business landscape.

A portfolio review should be a constant part of your business practice, including analyzing short term and long-term plans. It should not be a one-time activity, but should instead be a continuous process. Review frequently, so you can make small adjustments and correct your course at the soonest point possible.

Executive Buy-In

One critical component to bringing innovation to market is to get executive buy-in.

No matter how great the innovation, it won’t make it to market unless the company executives are on board.

Keep in mind each of the following considerations for securing executive buy-in.

Understand the corporate business model. A company’s business model will dictate critical decision factors, including assumptions around go-to market, sales, distribution reach, manufacturing, finance, and innovation. If it isn’t clear where innovation sits in a business model, you will need to do the work to determine the company mindset around innovation.

Map innovation alternatives to business models. Come prepared to the meeting with different types of business models that will serve your innovation. Take your knowledge of the pipeline and portfolio and apply that to possible business models. This allows you to align your terminology of innovation to those business models.

Speak the business model language. Make sure you are speaking the same language as the executives. Placing your innovation into the framework of the business model shows the executives that you have considered the business viability of the project. It will also help the executives see the innovation as core to the business model that they live day in and day out.

Pepsi Cola shows how considering the business model allows for successful transformation. Pepsi Cola’s business model focused on salty sugary snacks. They knew they needed to pivot into a business model with healthier alternatives. If they couldn’t pivot their portfolio, they would be severely challenged.

Pepsi had to think about innovation within a business model that prioritized both salty and sweet snacks as well as healthy alternatives. It was easy to make decisions on products they were familiar with because they knew all the key considerations for customer demand, distribution, packaging, and marketing. For a new, healthier product like sparkling water, all these were unknowns. They had business models that allowed them to bring the desired balance to their company portfolio and to remain successful and competitive.

Bring facts to the conversation with executives. Executives don’t want to hear about what you think will happen if it is not backed up by data. You need to be able to present the innovation, the numbers, and how that aligns to strategy. Consider using scorecards and allow an executive to perform the scoring. This brings the executives into the conversation in a way that is tangible.

Bring alternatives to the conversation. There is no one size fits all model. If you come to the table with alternatives, it allows executives to consider different types and pace of innovation. It also shows you have done your due diligence into different business models. Presenting alternatives shows that you understand how innovation will be part of the success of the business model.

Establish innovation flexibility and adaptability. When you think about your organization and investment, you need to be able to speak about different scenarios and how you can shift resources to adapt to new and changing circumstances.

If you approach conversations with executives focused on the business models and prepare it with facts, it enables them to give the right innovation for the company the green light to move forward.

This is a piece from The Innovator’s Handbook 2021. If you’re keen to dive into the best and latest on corporate innovation, request your copy here. To discuss anything Strategy, Leadership & Governance, join our upcoming Innov8rs Connect online event, 16-20 November.