It’s no secret that great outcomes start with great planning - so New Year’s Day comes early for innovation leaders.

The time to reflect on lessons learned from last year’s efforts and set our sights on even bigger things ahead comes right about now. Here are the seven key questions you want to think about and explore with your teams and partners to set yourself up for big innovation wins in the year ahead.

01 What’s my baseline on innovation impact and why?

93% of CEOs say they’re counting on innovation to make a major contribution to their growth targets, yet only 27% believe their organizations are currently equipped to deliver what’s needed. Defining what better looks like starts with understanding our starting point. How many of our innovation projects delivered the big outcomes we were hoping for in 2015 and 2016? How long did it take to go from blank page to product in-market? What did it cost to get there? What were the key drivers of our most successful outcomes? Where we didn’t quite hit the mark, what were our challenges? Do we need to focus on better execution against strong innovation strategies, or do we need to rethink our innovation strategy?

02 Where big ideas didn’t bear fruit, how can we nail it next time out?

Innovation success requires five key pieces: successfully aiming (aka Innovation Strategy), inventing (coming up with big answers to big problems), enabling (surrounding that idea with the necessary capabilities, resources and governance), building (getting it from idea to MVP and more), and scaling (deploying with impact). Digging in to understand where the breakdowns are happening will set the stage for better outcomes next year.

03 Is the aggregate value of innovations in my pipeline big enough to deliver our growth goals over the next 3-5 years?

Many organizations view innovation as an activity stream (i.e., what we’ll do next year) rather than a growth lever with a specific and measurable contribution to the company’s growth ambitions (what we’ll tangibly deliver). Now is the time to assess the value of what’s in the pipeline and build a plan to make 2017 the year of transforming the quantum of value the innovation pipeline represents.

04 Is my innovation lab delivering breakthrough revenue opportunities?

Nearly every innovation lab goes through a lifecycle. Its sponsors are briefly fascinated by the lab’s PR value, ability to attract talent, new ways of working, and speed at getting to interesting ideas. But as the cash burn continues, expectations rise, patience thins out, and attention turns to ROI. Now might be the the time for a conversation about assessing and refreshing the lab’s charter, work streams, and resources. Are we working on big problems that can transform the world and the business? Do we have the right mix of quick wins and moon shots in play? What adjustments do we need to make to ensure the lab successfully migrates from being a cool new initiative to a permanent driver of innovation, growth and new competitive advantage?

05 Do my big technology initiatives have breakthrough ideas attached to them?

In the end, technology is a how, not a what. Now is the time to think beyond just new capabilities to ask whether all of the organization’s big technology bets have been translated into big ideas for new value creation.

06 Are we looking far enough ahead to fend off disruption and open big new possibilities?

Many organizations find themselves with a gap between an external environment where disruptors are changing the game, and an internal innovation environment skewed the other way – towards slight variations on things they’ve been doing for years. Planning for next year should include a conversation about whether we’re doing enough to future-proof our business against the different type of competitor that’s emerging – coming to eat our lunch in years to come. In essence, now is the time to ask whether our Innovation Strategy fits the changes playing out around us.

07 Are our projects delivering big platforms that can be mined for years to come?

One-offs give a brief sweet taste of low hanging fruit, but leave the business underfed in the long run. Getting to platform-level breakthroughs is increasingly critical to staying competitive and future proofing growth.


Since 2003, Fahrenheit 212 has been helping many of the world’s great companies ask the right questions and get to the right answers, turning innovation from a random game of hits and misses into the reliable growth engine they need it to be. This year and every year. Get in touch

to talk about what great looks like for you in the year ahead.