Integrating Innovation Strategy into Your Business Plan


Jeff Bartel

Chairman and Managing Director

Developing and driving innovative ideas are essential to business success and growth. Innovation—whether in products, services, operation, or delivery—allows organizations to improve value for their customers, which can boost satisfaction and build loyalty. However, an innovation culture can only take hold if there is action, testing, adaptation, and collaboration throughout the organization and alignment with the business goals.

Often, businesses fail to implement innovative ideas correctly or allow them to lie dormant despite their potential. Innovative concepts that remain dormant jeopardize business success. Your company can avoid these issues by integrating an innovation strategy into your business plan. 

The Importance of Innovation Strategy in Your Business Plan

Several Fortune 500 companies, including Apple, Alphabet, and Amazon, are synonymous with innovation. Among these corporations, innovation is at the forefront of their business strategies. Embedding innovation into your business offers a range of benefits, such as the following.

  • Alignment with Company Goals: You can ensure that all key players work toward the same goals and objectives with an innovation strategy.
  • Greater Value for Customers: Strategic integration of innovation within the company typically results in better products and services to the customer.
  • Better Collaboration: With an innovation strategy, various departments can work toward different goals. For instance, your sales team focuses on finding new customers, your research and development team may want to introduce new products, and your marketing team may target a new audience. However, with a strategic plan, these goals can work in unison toward one goal. 
  • Diverse Ideas: Collaboration can spur a greater diversity of innovative ideas.
  • Cost Control: The right innovation strategy can not only help you better select which ideas deserve additional research, but it can also help control research and development costs.

Considering today’s fast-paced, forward-moving market, integrated business innovation strategies are critical to achieving long-term success.

Using Different Types of Innovation Strategy

When it comes to integrating innovation into your business plan, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Your innovation method depends on your organization’s capabilities, risk level, financial investments, priorities, and scope. The four most common innovation strategies are provided below.


Proactive strategies focus on the innovation of new products. This requires a significant financial investment and has a higher risk factor than other strategy options. Apple is a prime example of a company that takes a proactive approach by introducing new technologies to the consumer market, including the iPhone, iPad, and iWatch. Organizations considering this approach must realize the risks involved since future markets are uncertain.


Companies taking an active innovation approach focus on improving their current offerings while knowing they may need to switch gears quickly to meet emerging consumer demands. As a result, these organizations build upon technology and tools already available in the market.

This strategy requires a high investment but comes with lower risks than proactive strategies. Microsoft is one company that often takes this approach. For example, as the global pandemic forced companies to rely on remote work, Microsoft introduced new collaboration tools.


As the name suggests, companies using a reactive strategy tend to take a wait-and-see approach. They track trends and typically only take action on innovative ideas that are already successful in the market, which can reduce the risk level. For example, discount airline Ryanair took an innovative approach to build a business model that mimics many of Southwest’s successful trends, lowering costs by eliminating offering snacks and drinks during flights.


Companies taking a passive approach to business innovation strategies focus primarily on customer demand. These companies wait for customers to demand change before building an innovation strategy. This strategy requires a smaller investment and comes with fewer risks. For example, app development companies often wait for customer feedback before making app changes or building innovative technology.

How Do You Develop an Innovation Strategy?

The first step in developing an innovation strategy is to set clear goals and objectives. These goals must align with the overall mission of the company. For example, are you working toward developing new goods or services? Are you looking for innovative ways to acquire and retain talent? Do you want to expand your customer base?

When setting these objectives, determine what value you want the innovation to bring to the company and customer. For instance, do you want to improve hiring outcomes? Improve customer satisfaction, Meet customer demands, Enhance the customer experience, and lower labor costs.

Finally, you must develop a plan to communicate innovation goals and objectives to all key players. Then, once you are in the development phase, determine how to introduce this innovation to the customer.

How Do You Implement an Innovation Strategy into Your Business Plan?

Once you set goals and objectives, communicate the plan to all key stakeholders, including executives, managers, employees, clients, contractors, and vendors. Expanding communications to even those outside the company permits all key players to offer suggestions and ideas. This step, in turn, helps to build a culture of innovation.

Corning is a prime example of a company that maintains a culture of innovation. Over its 170-year history, Corning has continuously invested in innovation. From developing the glass enclosure for light bulbs in 1879 to bringing Pyrex into millions of homes for more than 100 years to developing GorillaGlass for modern-day smartphones and cars, Corning’s innovations have made it a leader in glass science, ceramic science, and optical, physical industries. 

Pillars of a Business Innovation Strategy

Keep several pillars of business innovation strategy in mind when developing and integrating them into your business plan.

Business Model vs. Tech and Development Innovation

Determine if you want the organization’s strategies to focus on business model innovation or tech and development innovation. For example, do you want to improve business processes or develop new products? While these two objectives may overlap, understanding the company’s priorities can help determine which innovation techniques to use and what areas to invest in first.

Cross-Functional Collaboration

Cross-functional collaboration is critical to innovation success. Not only do all key players need to work together, but each department must also fully understand the overall goals and objectives of the strategy. Multiple teams may work toward different purposes without this collaboration, which often hinders outcomes.

Advanced Ideation

It is rare for an innovative idea to come from just one source. Instead, innovation is typically a collaborative effort among multiple players. Encourage your employees, even those unrelated to research and development, to share their innovative solutions and ideas. These ideas can come to life through a collaborative effort.

Measure Success

Once an innovation framework is in place, develop metrics to measure the success of its implementation. Only through practical analysis can you ensure any innovative idea’s long-lasting success.

Including Innovation Strategy in Your Business Plan

Innovation is practical only if it aligns with your business goals and objectives. That is why it is vital to integrate a comprehensive innovation strategy into your company’s business plan. The first step to making this happen is to secure executive buy-in. Company executives must approve any strategy and understand the total value of strategic innovation. You also need to focus on communication because an innovation strategy has no impact if it is not actively promoted.

The need for continuous innovation cannot be overstated. Strategic innovation must be integrated into the business plan of any company. Contact Hamptons Group to begin integrating an innovation strategy into your business plan.