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3 Mistakes that make every innovation strategy fail

A well-formulated innovation strategy is the foundation for innovation success. How to strategically plan ahead and interpret signals correctly.

Whoever is responsible for innovation must decide on a plan for the continuous renewal of products and services. But for such a plan to be implemented, certain mistakes must be avoided. Plug those holes in your strategy! Avoid the three big mistakes that doom any innovation strategy to fail. Below you will learn more about what matters and why this is so important. Take advantage of our expertise and let us work together to make your strategy a success!

Who is responsible for the innovation strategy?

Companies that want to strategically plan and move forward into the future must have a clear vision and a strong innovation strategy. A well-formulated innovation strategy is the foundation for this. 

What is the difference between an innovation strategy and a corporate strategy?

A corporate strategy is the plan by which a company aims to achieve its vision and goals. This plan specifies when, how, and with what resources these goals will be achieved. An innovation strategy, on the other hand, is a part of this corporate strategy and is primarily concerned with the company's innovation activities. Here, it is a matter of defining when innovations should be realized in which area in order to achieve the company's goals or to maintain the company's success, or make it successful, in the long term.

Innovations are an important factor for the success of a company. They help to open up new markets, increase competitiveness, and better satisfy customer needs. A good innovation strategy should therefore be closely linked to the general corporate strategy and be geared to the needs of the market.

Overall, it can be said that the corporate strategy represents the overall concept for the company, while the innovation strategy places a special focus on the development of new ideas. However, both strategies are closely linked and should be developed in coordination.

Responsibility for developing the innovation strategy may be assigned in different ways in each organization. Some companies also hire an external consulting team to develop the innovation strategy. In companies with innovation departments, innovation strategies are developed within those departments. Still others delegate their senior management or other experts with the task of developing the innovation strategy.

Strategic planning ensures that your company responds effectively to new challenges and is constantly adapted to market trends. This results in a great responsibility that goes hand in hand with the development of the innovation strategy.

3 Mistakes made when developing innovation strategies

Mistake #1: the wrong type of freedom 

How much freedom does an innovation team need and how clearly should the goals be specified? Many decision-makers and innovation managers are very uncertain about what should be included in an innovation strategy.

Far too often, the wrong kind of freedom is given. The consequence of this is there is too much of a good thing. The innovation team can't see the wood for the trees. Opportunities and possibilities for new things show up at every corner. But getting started is difficult.

Decision-makers and management staff do not give their innovation teams freedom by saying: "Everything is permitted. Anything is possible." This weakens the innovation team. As the innovation manager, you need to create a clear picture of what is in scope and what is out of scope. This is how you create the right amount of freedom.

Mistake #2: strategy deduced from a gut feeling

Effective strategic innovation management can be launched with a few choice measures and methods. To do this, the first step is to find out where the strengths and development areas of your innovation system lie. For example, if the interaction between bottom-up and top-down processes is well planned, you will gain valuable information from it for controlling and decision-making. It is therefore not a quick-win, but means that innovation management is an integral part of your organization.

You won't avoid this mistake by completely ignoring your gut feeling. Ultimately, your gut feeling is also composed of the tacit knowledge that you have gathered in your life up to this point. However, in a volatile and rapidly changing market environment in particular, our experience alone won't do. We need knowledge about trends and technologies.

Mistake #3: not setting targets

Innovation management simply doesn't work without innovation metrics or clear goals that can be quantified. It is therefore the task of decision-makers to take a clear position. 

As an example, an organization's goal is to bring a pioneering innovation to market in 2024. Based on experience, the head of innovation of this company knows that it takes 21 high-quality ideas that lead to 7 feasibility studies, which in turn lead to 3 inventions that are introduced to the market, thus producing 1 pioneering innovation with a high probability. 

This provides a clear picture of the tasks involved in operational innovation management. In addition, in this example, the innovation manager can more easily assess whether the goal can be achieved with internal resources or whether external support (e.g., through innovation outsourcing) will be necessary. 

2 Tips for strategy work

1) Learning from last year

Every businessman and businesswoman strives for success. Therefore, it is important not only to proceed systematically and in a structured manner when building an innovative and successful strategy, but also to make use of the previous year's experience. This is because any wrong decision can be expensive and the cost of failure can be enormous. To avoid this, it is essential to analyze last year's mistakes before implementing the strategy. Which goals were not achieved? What worked? What didn't work? How could we have done it better? These questions will help you develop an innovation strategy focused on success.

By reflecting on the previous year, you can sharpen the focus of your strategic plan and get on the right track. You can revise existing goals or define new ones. You can also develop ideas that will help you increase your innovation potential and thus further support the success of your strategies. In addition, an analysis of the previous year provides you with insights into potential risks so that you can take adequate measures to minimize them.

To sum up then, it is worth investing more than a little time in analyzing the experience curve of the last year. It requires only little effort but brings great benefits. By taking a look at the past, you can ensure that your innovation strategies will be successful in the long term and that failure can be avoided.

2) Nothing is at it was

It may sound contradictory to the previous tip, but don't just rely on experience. "We've always done it this way", is a statement that suffices less and less in the VUCA World. Instead, you should think outside the box and use innovation methods (e.g. roadmapping or scenario techniques) for strategy work. The world is changing fast – those who don't move with the times will eventually be left behind. Be brave enough to take unconventional paths or break up old structures now and then. 

Experience is valuable, but it is not a guarantee of success in times of change. A combination of the ability to analyze, a willingness to innovate, clear arrangements, and flexibility ultimately lead to the desired result.


Innovation strategies are essential to achieve good results. By avoiding the three mistakes listed above, you can give your innovation strategy a vision and create the right degree of freedom for creative ideas to drive the business forward. With the right strategy and a positive attitude, you can make your business successful and achieve great results.

Another important point: communication! Make sure that all employees in the company are informed about the goals and what is expected of them. Clear arrangements help to prevent misunderstandings.

To find out how we can help you implement your innovation strategy, visit our services Web page


Tanja Eschberger-Friedl

With her clear and focused way of working, Tanja supports you with strategic innovation management and the successful development of product, process, and market innovations. Tanja always keeps an eye on the essentials. Holistic solutions are her aim. She applies her specialist knowledge as a scrum master and agility coach to achieve this.

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