How an innovation strategy sprint speeds up the entire process

Introducing the Innovation Strategy Sprint: a 1-week, fast, high-energy board session that helps co-design an innovation blueprint. Go from one year to one week.
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Corporates are under tremendous pressure today. Every corporate is under attack of dozens, if not hundreds of startups. They are all craving for a piece of the cake. Startups are disrupting corporates, and a lot of corporates are struggling to deal with disruption.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If you think about it, corporates have everything it takes to become the disruptor themselves, instead of being disrupted. If ideas are indeed worth nothing and if it’s indeed all in the execution, corporates have a substantial competitive advantage. Execution is their game. They have the means; they have the manpower, they have the machine.

But there are a few hurdles that prevent them from tackling innovation, and ultimately disruption: slow and sluggish decision making, crippling risk aversion and a hierarchy that demotivates people. It seems that traditional consulting has adapted to these hurdles, rather than challenging them.

 

Hungry startups, with eyes on your cake.

That’s why we developed the innovation strategy sprint. We believe it’s a way – not the only way, but a way – to overcome the roadblocks that stand in the way of real innovation. If corporates want to live up to their innovation potential and even disruption potential, they need to decide faster and they need to execute faster.

Traditional consulting always follows the same recipe. Lengthy audits, long strategic planning, and large-scale transformations eat away your time and your budget. You quickly lose an entire year. By that time, 34 hungry startups have run away with your idea and start eating your cake.

The innovation strategy sprint radically speeds up the entire process of execution-learning-execution-learning-execution-and so on. From roughly one year to precisely one week.

 

Decide faster, execute faster.

When athletes need to work at their speed, they switch from long distance training to interval training. They don’t train at the same, constant pace anymore but they alternate their normal routine with high intensity and high pace training. That’s precisely what we are trying to achieve with the innovation strategy sprints: add periods of high intensity and high pace to the innovation program, to break with the routine and to speed up the entire process.

To decide faster, to execute more quickly.

The Innovation strategy sprint is an intense week in which the innovation team breaks out of its core activities and takes time to build an innovation blueprint that is ready for execution. The sprint consists out of an iterative execution of 5 simple elements:

  • Discover the status quo: just like in sports, before a sprint everyone should be well prepared. All warmed up, ready to go.
  • Define your innovation mission: in this phase, the team agrees on specific goals that the innovation strategy aims to achieve.
  • Design your innovation blueprint: how to reach the goals?
  • Decide with key stakeholders: in this phase, the board narrows down and agrees on one specific blueprint.
  • Deliver the strategy: the blueprint is put into practice and is validated.

The design sprint is not a one-off: it can be repeated from time to time to revise the plan and make adjustments on the way.

 

The golden rules of the innovation strategy sprint.

The different steps and the weekly program of the innovation strategy sprint will be explained in another blog post. But here are some of the golden rules you need to take into account before you release your inner Usain Bolt and rush to the starting blocks for your sprint.

 

Call the shot

The innovation strategy sprint is no workshop or brainstorm; its goal is to make decisions. That means that you need people on board who are authorized to call the shots. C-level buy-in is a crucial and indispensable part of the innovation strategy sprint. If the decisions you take at the end of the week still need to pass the board of the management committee before they can be executed, don’t bother.

 

Say yes to half a plan, or less

‘If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.’ This famous quote of LinkedIn-founder Reid Hoffman applies to the innovation strategy sprint. You will take decisions based on early plans that are not ‘ready’ yet. We help you turn your innovation vision – your innovation mission statement – into an actionable plan. A plan for the execution of new innovation initiatives. Think blueprint, nota shiny 200 page document. It contains the essential elements that help you to validate your strategy. Think like startups. They don’t have the time nor the budget to breed on ‘the best idea’ for an entire year. They execute, they learn to refine, they iterate, they come up with the final strategy.

 

The innovation strategy sprint is not a design sprint

You won’t go home on Friday with a prototype. The innovation strategy sprint results in innovation actions and initiatives with an organizational impact. Initiatives that are not limited to just one product or service but serve as a flywheel for your innovation strategy. Our innovation matrix already gives you an idea of possible initiatives. Whether you decide to create an incubator, an innovation lab or a venture fund, they are all meant to get your organization ready for your next big innovation opportunity.

 

Clear your schedule

What’s the best time for an innovation strategy sprint? Simple: whenever an opportunity comes knocking at your door. Or, to put it more negatively, whenever trouble comes rolling into town, and you identify a severe threat. Agendas can’t be the obstacle. By definition, the innovation strategy sprint starts when it needs to start. Within weeks or even within days, not within months.

 

Proof, not plans

Lengthy strategy changes take time to design, decide and execute. The innovation strategy sprint encourages a team to take small steps, to prove the potential and long-term impact of actions. The ultimate goal is that large-scale organizational pivots are being made based on proof, not on plans.

Need support in setting up your innovation strategy? One of our consultants will be happy to guide you through the process. 

Watch our free innovation strategy webinar

Learn how to run your own innovation strategy sprint and watch this video!

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