What your innovation strategy should include

The role of innovation and research & development vary within corporations. That role needs to be monitored and compared to those of competitors’ at both, business and consumer level. Put simply, a strategy for innovation expansion is vital in order for a company to survive and remain relevant in the constantly evolving markets. When building innovation strategy, experimentation and fast iteration are necessary.

One hindering that corporations often face when innovating, is the matter of how to move from the idea creation and innovation of a product, to the practice and concretion of an idea to a product. Corporations often have a mindset of thinking that large companies are stable by design and that it’s safer to follow the change than to lead it. A common strategy is to isolate the risks from innovations and experimenting. This is sometimes done by creating innovation labs or separate operational units that focus only on innovation processes. Although, If the culture of innovation isn’t promoted and created within the entire corporation, management buy-in and support can still be a challenge to achieve.

According to AlfaBank’s head of digital products, Alena Bocharova, large companies should realize their opportunities to innovate, that are created not by large budgets but by processes that have been tested and iterated to near perfection. This lowers the corporation’s risk of failure.

AlfaBank has dealt it’s innovation process into two main areas of focus:

1)    Building a culture that allows and encourages innovation and finally changes the company’s infrastructure to a more agile one.

2)    Setting a goal to provide the best products to the customers.

Of course, it is harder to build a culture of innovation in a well establish institution instead of starting from scratch, but often a separate innovation operating system can help! Corporate innovation labs are one way of establishing it. Innovation labs should have it’s own objectives, such as working and utilizing startups and developing digital products that answer the customer’s needs better. AlfaBank founded its own innovation lab and has been very successful with it. Here’s what they did:

AlfaBank showing an example:

Alfabank founded their own innovation lab called Alfalab, that aims to create new and innovative digital services and products for it’s customers in order to improve customer experience. Alfalab has innovation teams that work towards their goals. All the teams meet up once every three weeks to pitch their ideas to each other. When a team has an idea for a product, they introduce it at a review session, where they validate the idea. After the team has gotten validation for their idea, they get funding for the project from AlfaBank and have 3 months to prove the value of the product. After this they release a beta version of their product to the market and after a ”pilot” round, they either get the ok to go forward with the product, or the product is iterated or killed. This is a good example about how a separate product, stemming from an inner innovation process (or a startup) can help a big company to find a new client segment and test new concepts without hurting the core of the business.

Similar results can be achieved from the innovation lab through the utilization of startups. Using startups however, usually means less costs. Inner innovation projects require inner funding too, but a startup can provide a ready for market product, so you save on the development costs and testing, and only buy the ready-made product.

Finally, don’t forget that ”innovation” as a term doesn’t only cover for technological advancements but also spheres such as management, recruiting and operations.


Tips for creating an innovation strategy:

  • Have an innovation strategy that enables changes in the corporate structures and supports the culture of innovation
  • Consider having a separate operative unit, that handles innovation and new business, so you don’t hurt your core business
  • Have innovation teams that work towards set objectives, one team focuses on product development and another on working with startups for instance. Have regular review sessions where ideas are pitched and validated.
  • Quit driving blindfolded – ask your clients regularly what they want and need, involve them in the development process
  • Partnerships with startups help accelerate the implementation and experimenting process. (The faster the process is, the more money you save)
  • Be aware that changing people’s mindsets takes time, at first doing things outside the company’s comfortzone, faces resistance and hesitation.
  • Set ambitious objectives - If you want your business to grow 15% next year, double your goal! Pressure can help people execute more efficiently and discover solutions that they otherwise wouldn’t have thought of.
  • Employ people from different businesses with different backgrounds and experience. This will bring innovative solutions for your teams.


Is your company facing complex business challenges?

Our team helps businesses find innovative solutions for their business development needs through startups. We go through vast amounts of data to find the best startups for our clients’ business development needs.

To get new ideas, solutions, advice and startup field expertise:


To read more about collaborating with startups

and what's disrupting your field:






For reference check out: http://www.rocketspace.com/corporate-innovation/inside-one-multinational-banks-strategy-for-fintech-expansion


How to save millions by thinking like a startup founder?

Startup entrepreneurs can be considered to be risk-takers, innovators and change-agents. Corporations that have additional resources should consider implementing some of these attributes into the corporate culture. By doing this you are able to boost innovation within the corporation and streamline collaboration with startup partners.

Here's what you could try to pick from an entrepreneur's brain, in order to establish a win-win situation with a partner:


1) "Don't fear failure, fear being left behind" - Kati Holland

Try to welcome intelligent failures into the corporate culture and alleviate risks for the collaboration. Accepting intelligent failure into the corporation's innovation process is crucial. This means, that you have to really try to recognize which failures are the most useful and risk worthy. Countless things can go wrong when it comes to doing things in a new way or creating something completely novel. There are mistakes that you can prevent, mistakes that are unpreventable and have to do with uncertainties, and finally intelligent mistakes.

“One of the things that's really powerful—and what innovation effectively is—is a license to fail. When you're willing to tolerate failure, people are willing to do things differently. And if you're not willing to do things differently, you have to do it in a tried-and-true way, which is not innovative," - Tim Campos, CIO, Facebook

Here's how to embrace intelligent failure

  • Consider your objectives for collaborating: why are you engaging with startups? What does success/failrure look like in this case? Investigate real internal needs. 
  • Write down any assumptions and share them with your team. Try to turn these assumptions into knowledge by seeking information that indicates whether your assumption are flawed or not. Consider any possible internal, relational and environmental barriers and how they could be avoided.
  • Enable Fast Failure! Create KPI's that measure the progress of the partnership and collect data and feedback constantly.  Pick the best partnership type that complements your objectives and if the first option doesn't work, don't be afraid to iterate.
  • Fail Cheaply. Have an innovation budget and try to stick to it. You can also consider partnering with other CVCs! Get familiar with the lean startup concept and think of ways to implement that concept in to the corporate culture. This method saved GE millions!
  • Get rid of uncertainties. If you don't know what it's like to work with a startup, the most important thing is to make the process as simple and streamlined as possible. Be clear on the process and it's timings and have a tech person on your team. Be aware that startups often have different dress codes and less formal conventions.
  • Embrace the bearer of bad news. For the innovation team to feel comfortable and safe to welcome the culture of failure, those who are brave enough to come forth, should be rewarder. Value the bad news, because the lessons you learn are worth a lot.
  • Communicate your learnings. No mistake should be made twice, so communicate about your findings and learnings with the entire organization.


2. Set a Clear Mission

By setting a clear mission for the collaboration, you minimize any fears that either party could have about the collaboration. This helps both parties understand the goals you have, and the means for getting there.

3. Evaluate the best way to create value.

Contemplate on the best way you can provide value to the other party and vice versa. Does investing, aquiring or partnering up get you the most benefits? How do you collaborate in a way that doesn't stop the startup from evolving?


Want to learn more about how smart innovation efforts can help your corporation to stay relevant and gain a competitive edge in the field? 

Learn more about our Startup Scanning expertise and how we help corporate innovation professionals find game-changing startups in their industries and find the best ways partner with them. 





Rocket Space: Corporate Innovators: Explore the mind of a startup founder - Kati Holland