Embedding Competitive Realities in Early Stage Innovation Strategies
Many organizations fail to consider the impact of competition and competitive circumstances during early state innovation. Typically, it is not until the eve of a new product launch that competitive conditions are evaluated, usually through a quickly conceived and poorly designed war-game, limiting organizational flexibility to adjust product design and features to account for competitive challenges. In addition, the tools companies use to set product launch strategies are limited and not well suited for addressing innovation approaches and investments.
To effectively strategize against the competitive conditions likely to confront a new product introduction, companies must consider external forces, and come up with counter-strategies, far earlier in the innovation process. A good time to start evaluating likely competitive forces and challenges is roughly one to two years before your targeted product launch date. This timeframe ensures that your company will have adequate strategic flexibility to alter product design, features, or marketing strategies, but avoids considering competitive forces too early, when external variables are likely to still be in flux and subject to change.
There are a variety of methodologies available to organizations seeking to consider competitive realities earlier in the innovation process, including:
- Scenario Analysis, in which organizations can explore a range of plausible future conditions and identify strategies most likely to be effective against a wide range of external conditions
- Trend Impact Analysis, a forecasting method that permits extrapolations of historical trends to be modified in view of expectations about future events
- Effective war-gaming, in which game design is well thought out, uncovers and acknowledged weaknesses in product design, and/or launch and marketing strategies, and is intended to craft specific counter-competitive strategies that can be incorporate into the larger product development and launch strategy.