Innovation? – Elementary my dear Watson…

‘Innovation’ and ‘Strategy’ are, for some people, two words that don’t mix well. For many, strategy is about analysis, planning and defining goals for known businesses; innovation, on the other hand, is regarded as more spontaneous, disruptive and ‘unplannable’. The result can often lead to the situation described by Antoine de Saint Exupéry as “a goal without a plan is just a wish”.

Lying somewhat deeper below this perspective are the worlds of deductive (analytical) and inductive (creative) thinking – they don’t collide, they are both part of a more holistic approach. As it happens, abductive reasoning is also relevant, but that’s another article…


As an aside, many think that Sherlock Holmes practiced ‘deduction’ – he didn’t, it was induction – see also

One might say that western education is replete with deductive reasoning models, and that inductive reasoning is hard. That’s what I have found working with clients on innovation and creativity over two decades. The comfort zone is with deduction and analytics – emergent thinking, innovation, and inductive reasoning are more challenging, but I would contend that it is more because folk are unpracticed than because it is intrinsically harder.

This is all particularly relevant to the development of an innovation strategy, a well-formed one will help create the conditions for better innovation in products, services, business models and operational practices.

The diagram below picks out the elements that are relevant – all very analytical you might say, however the key to success lies in arrows that point in both directions, calling for both inductive and deductive reasoning and behavior. Have a look at the diagram and see how much of what your organization does in relation innovation is captured there. Any gaps and the chances are you could make innovation a little more accessible to you and your colleagues.

I’m not saying it is easy, but going through the process of creating an innovation strategy will develop insights, create alignment, identify gaps, and form the basis for a plan going forward. There is always more to say about this, so if you’re interested, let’s start a conversation