Don’t Mistake Innovation For Strategy

Al Reis wrote an excellent article in Advertising Age that captures its thesis in the title: Innovation Should Be Seen as a Tactic, Not a Business Strategy. Here are a few excerpts:

What makes a powerful automobile brand today is not innovation, but a narrow focus on an attribute or a segment of the market…

Innovations outside of a brand’s core position can undermine a brand…

Most brands don’t need innovations; they need focus. They need to figure out what they stand for (or what they could stand for) and then what they need to sacrifice to get there.

My take: I applaud Reis for introducing restraint in a really hot topic area (Look at my posts Customer Experience Innovation: As Simple As 1-2-3 and Trend Watch #4: Business Week “Innovation Predictions 2008.”) Executives get so enamored with “innovation” that they lose sight of the fact that it’s just a tool, not the ultimate objective. Don’t get me wrong, it can be a very powerful tool, but it needs to be used to support the brand strategy. 

As I was thinking about where innovation can help the most, I thought about this Venn diagram that I used in a previous post


Innovation works best in the overlapping areas on the diagram!

The bottom line: Get more from innovation by obsessing less about it.

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile:

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