The Advantage of a Great Plan

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Michal Postula - Director Strategy and Innovation (IoT), Schneider Electric – says innovation is strategy: a clear plan about how you turn ideas into reality. But the commitment to a search for improvement is often shelved because it’s seen to be too hard, too "out there";. Here he helps you to lock in tangible improvements before everything changes.

Strategic change #1: Take contextual steps

  • Innovation can’t succeed without a strategic vision that’s appropriate to each organisation and environment
  • It’s a cultural commitment - the tactics may change along the way but the direction needs to be long term
  • 90 percent of the time it’s about successfully evolving to the obvious next stage. Natural progression shouldn’t be viewed as a second class citizen to disruptive innovation. Most innovation is incremental and that’s actually ok for most enterprises. 

Strategic change #2: Top-down encouragement creates bottom-up, relevant change

  • For multi-national operations with massive product and service portfolios, a single culture or innovation scene is impractical. They succeed with a more general ethos where creativity is valued and rewarded
  • With that curiosity and aptitude for breaking new ground, a strategic plan provides the stability and continuity of philosophy, the guide by which innovation is assessed. Innovation thrives where the corporate commitment can survive changes to leadership
  • Innovation gains momentum from the bottom up. Locals understand what needs to happen within their context, to achieve the next level of performance – everything from incremental evolution through to disruptive change. 

Strategic change #3: Reduce the risk

  • For large enterprises, understanding the long term is vital – all while being in in constant leadership and structural flux as they compete in the global economy. 
  • 10-20 year direction strategies need to be broken into achievable milestones before the next, inevitable change poses a risk to ongoing innovation programs. All ideas, ‘the new’ will be fragile until they are successfully added to the bottom line. 

Strategic change #4: Acknowledge the human element

  • Comprehensive strategic planning will encompass how the organisation is to develop and protect its human resources. It needs to consciously value talent, that powerful reservoir of corporate experience, and the ideas generated from deep customer knowledge. 
  • Where enterprises treat their people well, where there’s a stable workforce, innovation can flourish. And networks of long-developed, global friendships can be drawn on to solve customer problems. 
  • Introduce innovation just ahead of customer needs – don’t force them to make leaps into thin air. You need to understand their motivations, what will make them take up your business case ahead of someone else’s. Don’t waste your time and effort, or theirs.

Strategic view #5: Look out and beyond to identify the next big thing

  • Emerging IoT technologies and infrastructure are about to drive a huge productivity boom as many existing and new industry sectors will have access, for the first time, to highly sophisticated, affordable technologies.
  • Innovators are drawn to opportunity. So when a critical mass of investment flows from industry sector, regional or cultural booms, hot spots are created for product and service creativity.
     

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