Innovation Growth Strategy- Part 1 of a 3-Part Series

By Gil Meier on July, 2 2020

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Targeting Innovation during times like these may seem like a low priority. However, those companies that take some time now to understand their customers’ future needs will emerge ahead of the pack. “The business environment that exists when the pandemic comes to an end — which could be one to two years from now — may be very different from what it was before the crisis began. Start preparing for it now.”

There are many explanations for both strategy and Innovation. In this post I want to share a framework for an innovation growth strategy that is based on Clayton Christensen’s definition of the Three Types of Innovation, summarized as: 

  1. Efficiency innovation: When a company tries to do more with less.
  2. Sustaining Innovation: Making products better in your market.
  3. Market creating Innovation: Developing new products new markets.



A company’s growth strategy should define a path for profitable advancement. It explains how to outperform the competition by grabbing a larger portion of the market or entering a new market while also keeping costs down. It should be a long-term strategy, not a short-sighted opportunity. In today’s faster-paced digital times, ‘long-term’ is no longer what it was in the past.

Over-served markets are where profits shrink, growth is limited, and products become commoditized. Innovation efficiency, while critical to maintaining your core business by increasing output and reducing the resources invested, thereby increases profits, its impact is short-lived.

Sustaining and market-creating Innovation are two key growth approaches. Both focus on a value proposition that directly affects customers’ ability to complete a job they are trying to get done quicker, easier, and better quality while using your product or service (product). 

Where are you on the innovation growth pathway? Have you maxed out your cost savings, are you sustaining and worried about commoditization, or is there a candidate adjacent market for new revenue-generating opportunities you have been pondering?

Sustaining Innovation – without disrupting your core 

The Sustaining Innovation pathway is valuable for organizations that need an approach to tap into the significant growth potential in their core business, existing market and product offerings, without disrupting the existing business model and putting the company at risk.


Capture and maximize the growth potential within the current market before pursuing riskier, more uncertain adjacent markets or new market opportunities. 


You can find sustaining innovation opportunities in two areas of the business:

1. Product: Strategyn’s Job-to-be-Done (JTBD) + Outcome Driven Innovation (ODI) innovation method uses a quantitative approach to identifying underserved customers. These customers’ unmet needs lead directly to opportunities for product innovation that win increased customer satisfaction, loyalty and attract new customers. 

2. Business Model: By applying Strategyzer’s business model innovation methods, low-risk business model changes can be identified that allow you to capture more of the market without having to adapt/modify your products.

Market creating innovation in the adjacencies

Creating Innovation in the Adjacencies is a great pathway for organizations that have exhausted opportunities in their core business and find themselves mostly competing on price.  This innovation path looks to adjacent markets for new revenue-generating opportunities and focuses on extending the core boundaries of the business, while protecting it.


Innovation in adjacent markets is a non-disruptive approach that allows you to serve your customers in a fundamentally different way, in a new market, while leveraging the capabilities of your current business model.


Adapting your products to meet the underserved needs of customers in the adjacent market or changing your business model to unique value delivery approaches.

1. Product: Grow new products and services by defining the customer’s unmet needs associated with the consumption chain and related jobs allows you to identify growth opportunities for the entire job platform.

  • Accomplish this by leveraging the strengths of your core business capabilities.

2. Business Model: Provide new and unique customer value in a non-disruptive manner by adapting the business model, for example, new distribution channels or new geographies.

  • A more challenging approach but does not have to be disruptive are changes to the value chain such as key resources, key processes and supply chain changes.

Market creating Innovation in the white space 


Market creating innovation results in a business model that disrupts the core by delivering value in a new market to underserved customers. 


Moving into the “white space” with a new customer value proposition and supporting the business model is the most challenging innovation move to accomplish.

These are the critical steps in delivering opportunities in the transformative white space: 

  • Define the market - who is the customer, and what is the job they are trying to get done is the first big step.
  • Understanding the customers’ unmet needs (important and unsatisfied outcomes) provides the lens around which to innovate products.  
  • Architect the business model that will deliver the value proposition in a unique and innovative manner.


The new/adapted products resulting from the innovation activities will likely impact your business model. Understanding the extent of the impact is a subjective observation at best – but it is critical to understanding the risk to your core and its revenue. It will help you decide if the Innovation is practical and help direct how to proceed with implementation.

In general, the three overarching pathways undertaken together in a carefully sequenced and de-risked manner will propel your company’s transition from its present business model to the future business model, with each move reinforcing the previous one.

We would be happy to hear from you to help assess your current business model and business environment, looking for the right innovation growth path to take for your business.

Related Resources:

This is the first of a three-part series focused on innovation: 


Monday-Motivation-Working-File---06-24-2020-2 Product Innovation Part 2: JBTD & ODI


Innovation-Blog-Title Innovation and the Platform Network Effect- Part 3 of a 3-Part Series


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