New research on innovating for strategic success

Strategic Innovation Guide

We developed a novel approach called Strategic Innovation Guide that enables organisations to optimise their innovations for strategic success.

Using this approach, organisations can clearly identify and articulate their innovation needs and then create or adjust their projects to deliver their strategic goals.

The Strategic Innovation Guide is applicable for large corporates as well as small and medium sized companies, for profit or not for profit. This is because the guide examines and improves 2 fundamental aspects of any organisation: where the innovation needs come from and how to match those needs with the right projects.

The problem

We found that most companies select projects based on scoring and comparison of financial metrics such as net present values. This approach favours low-risk projects over more innovative projects which are less predictable but needed to drive strategic goals. As a result, many CEOs feel a disconnect between their innovation projects and their strategic goals.

The solution

Using the Strategic Innovation Guide, organisations first identify their innovation needs or change needs based on their strategic goals and then they cultivate a basket of innovation projects to meet those needs.

Innovation needs are changes that create sustainable competitive advantages. Our approach helps organizations to (re)gain consensus on the company’s strategic goals, after that the innovation needs are identified based on the analysis of the company’s strengths and weaknesses.

The innovation basket is created using an iterative process. It includes a selection of innovation projects cultivated based on strategic change needs or innovation needs of the organisation. The innovation basket clearly differs from a traditional innovation portfolio that is typically developed based on analysis of financial metrics. The evaluation of the basket may trigger changes in the strategy.

Join the revolution

Using the Strategic Innovation Guide, several companies have significantly increased the relevance between their innovation projects and strategic goals. You can find more about their experience in the Case Studies section.

We believe the Strategic Innovation Guide will revolutionise how organisations manage their innovations for strategic success. If you would like your organisation to benefit from this new approach, whether you are a company, a government agency, or any type of organisation where strategic innovation is important, please contact Anyu Gao or Haijian Si. We would love to hear from you.

More info about the Strategic Innovation Guide can be found in our article published in the Harvard Business Review.

EMEA and Americas contacts

Anyu Gao

Executive MBA student, Cambridge Judge Business School

PhD (Bristol)

Stylianos (Stelios) Kavadias

Margaret Thatcher Professor of Enterprise Studies in Innovation & Growth


Asia Pacific contacts

Haijian Si

Business Doctorate student, Cambridge Judge Business School

PhD (Beijing Jiaotong University)

Christoph H Loch

Professor of Management Studies

PhD (Stanford Graduate School of Business)

Case studies

This case study looks at how a company, who for the purpose of this case study we'll call 'Glass Inc.', used the Strategic Innovation Guide from Cambridge Judge Business School to identify the root cause of its slow growth, made strategic changes, and then adapted its innovation portfolio to accomplish this strategic change.

This case study features a well known battery manufacturer, who for the purpose of the case study we'll call 'BAT'. This is the story of how, with the help of the innovation basket in the Strategic Innovation Guide from Cambridge Judge Business School, they were able to identify new strategic opportunities and make changes in their innovation portfolios to achieve ambitious growth targets.

Media coverage

Wiley Online Library | September 2022

Managing innovation portfolios: from project selection to portfolio design

This study provides an overview of portfolio management approaches and research advances, focusing on the challenges faced in innovation portfolio management.

Harvard Business Review | September 2023

A new approach to strategic innovation: a tool for connecting your projects with your goals

An overview of innovation portfolio management processes discussing the challenges associated with them.