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Idélaboratoriet is a consulting company specializing in creativity and innovation. Idélaboratoriet was founded in 2000.

Idélaboratoriet works in the field of creativity and innovation. We create value for our clients for example through innovation strategy planning, facilitation of creative processes, training programs in professional idea creation and implementation of digital idea management solutions.

Idélaboratoriet is Swedish for The Idea Lab.

Idélaboratoriet was founded in Sweden and has its headquarters in Malmö in southern Sweden, but works with clients worldwide.

Idélaboratoriet likes to say that creativity is a process of getting original ideas that have some sort of value and innovation is the profitable implementation of creativity.

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#22 Innovation Strategy – what the hell is it?

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The Serious Innovation Newsletter #22

For years everybody has been talking about strategy – and everybody has been talking about different things. It seems that strategy is the almost divine thing that everybody aspires for, but who knows what it really looks like? And now it comes in an innovation version. It is about time to understand; what the hell is it? Who has done what? And is it important? The Serious Innovation Newsletter tries to help you guys sort things out…

Even though Henry Mintzberg has cleared things up somewhat with his books and his five different P’s of strategy forms (plan, ploy, pattern, position and perspective for those of you who forgot), there is still a mystic aura around the concept of strategy. Everyone wants to be part of the strategic management team, but no one really knows what happens there… There are strategies for everything – or at least people talking about them having a strategy – but how many can explain there own organizational strategy when woken up in the middle of the night. And when we all thought it was enough there is talk about a new even more fussy form of strategy – the innovation strategy. Richard Whittington of Oxford Business School has tried to describe four different kinds of innovation strategies that all exits in the marketplace. Lets have a look and try to understand:

1. The Classicist strategy

If you believe in classical innovation strategy, you believe in planning your way to new ideas. Companies with this kind of strategy often have large R&D departments where the future can be looked for, discovered and created. A classist believes in the first mover advantage and wants to screen off potential competitors by being the inventor. There is often, at least in the American version like GM, a strong market orientation and a will to ask the customers for the needs of the future. In a more European version, think for example Ericsson, a larger focus would be on the genius of the engineer and his doings in the lab. But still there is common thread of wanting and believing to lead the way and create the future.

2. The Evolutionist strategy

When it comes to the more Darwinist view of innovation strategy, it is of course survival of the fittest that decides the direction. Instead of trying to be the first one on the market, an evolutionist player is usually number two or three but in a very slim and customized version – a copycat that is fit! Many might think of China but in for example Sweden there are plenty of good examples of this strategy: think MTG and Tele 2 with its low budget but fast-moving organizational form, think H&M that checks out the catwalks in Paris and then produces the prêt-a-porter for the people and think IKEA who has semi copied most of the Scandinavian design wonder and produced it cost efficient.

3. The Processualist strategy

If you are a Processualist you do not believe that you can plan innovation. Innovation must come from a climate or a culture that breaths creativity. Innovation can not be produced in a tayloristic manner or fostered through money incentives, but has to spring out of an environment where trust, initiatives and partly chaordic principles has to be the guidelines. A laissez-faire version of the bringing up of your innovative darlings. A good example is the now almost classic version of 3M where the employees has 15% of their working time as “free-time” that they can spend on their own ideas, skunk works et cetera. Another example is Google, they put 20% of the employees time aside for thinking about new “Google concepts”. Who will be going for 50% in a near future?

4. The Systemic strategy

The last version of the different innovation strategy forms is a very relativistic one. The Systemics think at every market must be treated differently and every invention or product development initiative must be based on a local or at least regional perspective. Every niche has a different set of rules and tastes and must be treated individually. Therefore there can not exist global centralized R&D units or one local headquarter’ R&D unit that is planning for the product launches of the rest of the world. The Japanese car manufacturers had to face the hard facts of this theory in the eighties when they tried to sell the small Asian suited cars to the American “big and beautiful”-segment. But they have learned and now Toyota is dominating the US market with their US-looking brands like Lexus that many Americans believe is an American car!

So that was hardcore innovation strategy for you. Now you hopefully have basic understanding of the innovation strategy world of today. And yes it is important to have an innovation strategy, even though many firms have an innovation strategy that is more of a reactive pattern that can be followed in history, than a proactive vision that really points out the future. OK, finally the one-million-dollar-question? In five lines… what is your innovation strategy?

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