Strategy and Innovation

‘Strategy and innovation’ is the heading of this web page. It is a sensible heading, as the two terms are often mentioned in one breath. But why? A strategy is definitely not an example of an innovation and an innovation is not an example of a strategy.

The reason, obviously, is that a good strategy for the year 2020 always includes innovations. When it comes to the implementation of a modern strategy, there is a lot to innovate in the process of implementing the strategy to achieve the goal of the strategy at all (for example: turnover doubling or world domination).

It all sounds abstract and it is, so let's make it concrete. Consider an Internet platform like Facebook. If this company were to choose a new strategy, you know that for the platform, the website, this would lead to dozens if not hundreds of adjustments and innovations. Innovations are then the solutions that have not yet been thought of.

How very different, by the way, innovation used to be. Back then, you thought of a product or a service, and you immediately came up with the idea how that product or service would be created. From A to Z, it was a sophisticated process. Nowadays, it is a matter of experimenting, of trial and error.

Does this trial and error also apply to strategies? At least in new business development, which is often the most adventurous side of a strategy, failure has become acceptable. At least, if failure means that from failure you move on to success. Because when it comes to strategies, times are merciless. Organizations that do not have a strong strategy and corresponding plan risk being quickly overtaken by competitors, old or new. There should be room for experimenting in this age of social innovation. But time is always limited – given that competitors are also feverishly trying to innovate. The objective these days is nearly always implementing digital transformation or a digital transition.

Disruptive innovation

With the advance of digitalization, strategies sometimes become such radically different concepts that they can disrupt entire sectors. This is called disruption and is the starting point for changing value chains. Disruptive innovations increasingly force companies to enhance and then maintain their agility. Agile organizations respond more easily and quickly to trends and developments in the market. Digitalization is nearly always at the heart of a new strategy, that much is clear. But there is more to it than that because our society is also changing radically in other ways. And finally, what about the effect of digital business processes and cloud computing, which facilitate working from home and support agile organizations?

Mission and Vision

In addition, consumers increasingly expect that companies and other organizations have a good story to tell: a story that pays attention to the environment, climate, stakeholders internationally and their own employees. Focusing on social impact is the overall theme, as it has also been named as an important theme by Management Scope, alongside diversity. Social impact usually comes down to sustainability, but socially acceptable policies, the ‘S’ of ESG (environmental, social & governance) are also becoming an increasingly important focus point for organizations.

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Robert Metzke (Philips): 'No Sustainability Strategy but a Sustainable Strategy'

Healthtech company Philips aims to improve the lives of billions of people with meaningful innovations and access to health care. How does this ambition relate to sustainability and Philips’ strategy? Global Head of Sustainability Robert Metzke: ‘Sustainability is not a goal in and of itself, but an integral part of our strategy to improve the quality of people’s lives.’

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