Search ‘innovation portfolio’ and you’ll get various versions of horizon plans but click on Images and one of the common results looks a bit like this one.

room44 innovation portfolio

Horizon planning is a well-understood concept and focuses on what’s incremental, adjacent or radical to your market.

Commonly, these ideas are plotted on the matrix and everyone walks away with the idea that what’s radical also takes the longest time to deliver and is the hardest. We tend to believe what we see and a linear layout implies a time based construct.

Not necessarily so. Think of it this way:

Incremental = Renovation

What sits in this box are those things that can organically grow your business or that you need to get done to navigate out of a corner. Yes, they’ll take your time and, yes, they’ll naturally be what you do for a living. Adding new vigour to your product regularly may be down to marketing but it needs doing. These things also reflect how much time you give to working in your business rather than on it.

Transformative? Probably not. Critical to your survival? Completely.

Adjacent = Invention

Whatever you do today can be improved upon. Your product can be developed to be functionally better or aesthetically more appealing.

Take the iPhone X. Is this an innovation or an iteration of the 6, 7, 8…?

But, does this tie customers in? Yes. Does it provide improvements in brand engagement? Yes. Does it extend the lifecycle? Yes.

Transformative? Probably not.

Radical = Innovation

To make the radical leap and transform a market by creating new value using breakthrough knowledge, sometimes created as the result of invention sounds like it’s hard. Frequently, disruptive innovation radically changes not only an organisation’s core products but also its core identity too.

The point is that what is radical doesn’t sit out in the future necessarily.

Two reasons:

  1. What was a five-year target last year is a four-year plan this year. The target gets closer or it isn’t a target. It’s a pipedream.
  2. What’s radical, transformative and innovative can emerge now. Get yourself into a cycle of innovation based activity and wonderful things can happen. Conversations around product development can lead to discussions around new markets, applications and developments BUT you need to be having the conversations.

If you can find the space to work away from the business for some of your time the focus on innovation can become a habit. This is where companies transform themselves from culturally incremental to culturally innovative.

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