It’s been nearly two decades since Michael E. Porter, Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at Harvard Business School wrote “The Competitive Advantage of Nations.” Porter’s groundbreaking study of international competitiveness outlined how a nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade. It transformed how companies think and act when it comes to innovation. Innovation, he noted, is rather ordinary and typically comes about in incremental steps or through the snowball effect of multiple small insights rather than a big bang event such as a single, major technological breakthrough. That point is still being debated, especially when you consider the success of disruptive companies like Apple, Uber, Amazon and Google. But what was relevant then and continues to be today, is Porter’s observation that innovation always involves companies investing in skill and knowledge.

Does your company have a winning strategy?

Gather a group of people together and give them a topic to discuss, the odds of getting everyone to agree is fairly low. The more controversial the topic, the odds of getting everyone to agree on almost anything drops even further. The same dynamic exists within companies. Most people will agree on the things that don’t swing to one extreme or another. Boring is safe. So is staying within the confines of what’s been proven to work. Being innovative is about thinking outside of the box, taking risks, daring to do what others tell you can’t possibly be done.

Innovation is about what’s new—big ideas, bold ideas. A new way to solve your customer’s problem, forward-leaning product innovations designed to meet your customer’s needs today and anticipating their needs two years from now, or smarter, more responsive customer support. When companies make a long-term commitment to innovation and have it become a core driver behind their decision-making, regardless of short-term consequences, growth is possible.

Consider companies that invest in building an incubator around their talent by giving them new exciting projects to work on. What drives them is the opportunity to be a part of something that they are passionate about and that might disrupt the status quo. The challenge for most organizations is not setting up the incubator program—that’s the easy part. It’s sticking with it, embedding it into your strategy, and making sure that its getting the resources it needs to keep your talent around and motivated to keep innovating.

Companies that foster and sustain innovation, instead of getting comfortable with their successes or too staid in their thinking are the ones that have a greater chance of rising to the top. Integral to staying innovative, is strategic planning. Strategic planning determines where an organization is going over the next year or more, how it’s going to get there, and how it’ll know if it got there or not. It’s part of innovating and staying ahead of trends. Strategy and Management Services, Inc. (SAMS) provides strategic planning services designed to assist our clients in achieving positive results from their initiatives. We can help you stay focused on what matters most. To learn more about how SAMS can help you, contact us today.