High Leverage Strategies for Innovation


I’m a fan of learning from the best of the best.

What are the high-leverage strategies that the leaders in innovation use?

In “Smart Spenders, the Global Innovation 1000,” an article in strategy+business magazine, Barry Jaruzelski, Kevin Dehoff, and Rakesh Bordia write about the successful strategies that the 94 high-leverage innovators use.

Example High-Leverage Strategies for Successful Innovation

Here’s a summary of the key strategies according to Jaruzelski, Dehoff, and Borda:

  • Have systematic ideation processes, including involving senior management in the conception and definition of new ideas.
  • Have competence at all stages of your value chain.
  • Involve end-users in your innovation strategy.  Spend a lot of time focusing on  where they work, where they play, where they buy, and where they learn.  This helps to increase your efficiency of your new product introductions.
  • Favor flatter and nimbler management structures that make the innovation process more transparent to your executive team.
  • Keep R&D costs down by keeping R&D focused and closely aligned with your business units.  This allows you to target your R&D efforts to meet specific customer needs versus doing a great deal of early-stage, academic research.
  • Keep an internal innovation engine running efficiently through a core engineering team that designs and developers a variety of product lines (this helps provide common engineering and design as well as actual code reuse.)
  • Place greater value on economies of speed, scope and skill rather than simply economies of scale.
    Look outside your organization for partners, suppliers and customers for new and innovative ideas.
  • Build capabilities along the innovation value chain to generate significant improvements in return on your research and development spending.
  • Pick the elements to generate a competitive advantage based on your industry, competition and internal capabilities.

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Photo by .A.A.


  1. “Have systematic ideation processes” sounds too cool. What I imagine is kind of group owned twitter/DL where they throw their craziest ideas and iterate over it until they nail the coolest one.

  2. Hi J.D. The 3rd one about involving end users in your innovation strategy definitely makes good marketing sense–know you target market inside and out!

  3. I too am a big believer in learning from the best.

    (Then beating them at their own game.) Just kidding on that last line of course.


  4. Hi J.D.

    Great information on High-Leverage Strategies. I also like that you sharing with us about your own feeling on learning from the best. Reminding everyone that no one person knows everything. And if we are wise we will learn from the best. That is why I come read your blog often.
    Thank You,
    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfect Action is better than No Action

  5. @ Alik

    It’s like throwing it against the wall to see what sticks. I think it helps with prioritization. The trick is to get a good handle on the demand side, especially if you have a strong supply side. If you have to do demand generation, it’s better to know that earlier vs. later.

    @ Christine

    Relevancy is king. Even more so in today’s market. I think in early markets and where there’s wide open opportunity you get more wiggle room. In saturated and mature markets, you really need to know what your users want and what will separate you from the pack.

    @ Jannie

    Learning from the best makes a world of difference. I remember when I first learned how to ski. My instructor didn’t teach me how to stop. He wasn’t the best. It was a rough start.

    @ Giovanna

    Thank you. I’ve always liked Ken Blanchard’s saying, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” (the collective brain)

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