Strategic Innovation Expert
Managing Partner since 1983, John Di Frances’ visionary insights and interviews have been featured in over 35 major broadcast media and publications internationally in regard to Business Innovation & Strategy, Strategic Planning Facilitation and Strategy & Innovation Keynotes. Additionally, John is the author of four business books with the fifth, Real Strategic Planning: A CEO’s Guide, to be released in 2016.
'Strategy & Innovation for Sustainable Growth and Profitability'
Author of Minding the Giraffes, Strategic Innovation consultant John Di Frances, maintains that Giraffe Innovators are essential players in the never-ending quest for growth and sustainability. Giraffes are the visionaries and long range thinkers, possessing the unique ability of 'seeing' and foreseeing not only strategic opportunites and solutions, but also the roadmap to implementation.
Giraffe Innovators are the most imaginative individuals in the business world. They are creative problem solvers - relentlessly driven to achieve strategic innovation. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were Giraffes.
Do you need a Giraffe? Giraffes are the tallest animals on earth. Their astounding height enables them to see the vast panorama of grasslands where they live. They possess extraordinary eyesight and a wide field of peripheral vision. This allows them to recognize danger as well as verdant grazing opportunities at great distances. Likewise, Giraffe Innovators ‘see’ emerging opportunities and clearly ‘visualize’ optimal strategic solutions.
Steering for growth and sustainability - Consider the striking contrast between the images above. The first, the steering wheel of an average automobile - the second, a Formula One race car. One enables you to drive at 70 miles per hour. The other makes it possible to win highly competitive races at speeds exceeding 200 mph. Race car drivers rely on their steering wheel’s precision instrumentation and controls for an in-depth, real time understanding of their car’s ‘moment by moment’ performance. To achieve sustainable success, leaders must likewise be attuned to the ‘pulse’ of their organization by embracing a comprehensive, integrated perspective.
Is your eye on the finish line? For innovation to succeed, speed is critical. Strategic Innovation Consulting’s primary goal is to accelerate strategic innovation. We encourage collaborative strategic planning to identify, evaluate and optimize all available opportunities.
Strategic Innovation vs. Fire Fighting To avoid the constant frustration of fire-fighting, company leaders must return to the critical imperative of strategic thinking as a precursor to strategic planning. We facilitate the development of innovative solutions and leap-ahead strategies.
What innovation is NOT..... it is not just a great idea. Businesses must make profits to survive. If an idea offers no market value or bottom-line improvement for operations, then it is simply an idea. It is not innovation. True innovation is change which creates a new and profitable dimension of performance. Our professional innovation consulting services keep ideation on track for achieving tangible results.
When does an idea become innovation? When it creates new markets or transforms the way business is done. In a global environment, doing this year what you did last year to effect incremental growth is no longer enough. This will not change, except to become ever more competitive with each passing year.
Incremental growth, the HIDDEN RISK... The business environment today is a very dangerous place for incremental growth companies. Most threats now come from outside of a company’s traditional competitors. Disruption is the name of the game and companies must either become disrupters or will likely fall victim to being disrupted.
“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” - Jack Welsh
The Way Forward - Rapid change in your marketplace is a given, but what you decide do about it is within your control. Do nothing and “the end will come,” perhaps sooner than later. Choose instead, to thoughtfully invest in your organization's future through the timely development of Strategic Innovation and the sky is literally the limit!
Strategic Open Innovation Consulting
Strategic Innovation Consulting is a professional services firm assisting clients in the optimization of specific strategic, organizational and marketplace initiatives. We serve a wide-ranging clientele including corporations and not-for-profit organizations both in North America and internationally, ranging from Fortune 100 companies to start-ups.
Our programs provide an effective, systematic method whereby we guide leadership teams in the successful development of purposeful innovation within a timely, cost-efficient context.
John acknowledges, “Not all ideas are innovation. Solutions must be value driven and capable of implementation.” Our innovation program accelerates the achievement of powerful new strategies. We guide and facilitate the process of idea generation and the creation of a strategic implementation plan leading to measurable, breakthrough results."
John is the author of MINDING THE GIRAFFES: The People Side of Innovation (2012). In this book, he demonstrates how a viral organizational culture of innovation is formed and what leaders can do to maximize innovation by identifying and empowering those individuals who are gifted innovators. In it, John recounts how, early in his career, the company CEO recognized his natural talent for innovation and lost no time placing him in the position of leading the corporation's strategy and innovation. His innovative marketplace initiatives proved extremely lucrative for the company.
John designates business innovators as 'Giraffes' because they can 'see' above and beyond the daily fray and possess a unique ability not only to visualize solutions, but also the roadmap to successful implementation.
Finding and minding your Giraffes is key to a thriving culture of on-going innovation and to becoming a leader in your industry. Strategic innovation creates and sustains competitive advantage through the consistent achievement of marketplace breakthroughs. (Continue reading)
Strategic Thinking & Planning
Recognizing the Problem
Executives frequently do not realize that strategic thinking is an essential precursor to strategic planning. In fact, they are often surprised to learn that just because they have a formal plan, it is not a given that real strategic thinking has actually occurred.
Why then is this crucial phase so often overlooked? Because a common misconception exists in regard to strategic thinking. Aren’t strategic thinking and strategic planning the same thing? No!
You need effective strategies which will produce tangible results in terms of growth, profitability and sustainability. Thus, your goal is to develop a strategic plan to ensure the organization’s future. At this point, you find yourself at a pivotal junction where the imperative of strategic thinking must first be tackled. It is foundational and cannot be ignored without suffering the consequences.
Is Your Strategic Plan Strategic?
The missing ingredient in the majority of Strategic Planning efforts is STRATEGY! When I speak to executives on this vital issue, I begin by asking two questions. “How many of you have a Strategic Plan?” All of the hands go up. Then I ask the second question, “How many of those plans contain numbers, budgets, spreadsheets?” Once again, everyone’s hand goes up. Then I say, “You do not have a Strategic Plan. What you have is an Operating Plan.”
Most so-called ‘strategic plans’ are merely operating plans, adorned with a rehash of Vision and Mission Statements and dominated by reams of spreadsheets detailing sales projections and operating budgets. They represent ‘tactical’, not ‘strategic’ thinking. (Continue reading)
Listen to Audio Interviews of our Managing Partner, John Di Frances Addressing Critical Aspects of Open Innovation & Strategic Planning
Open Innovation & Strategy Radio Interview with John Di Frances, Managing Partner, Part 1:
Open Innovation & Strategy Radio Interview with John Di Frances, Managing Partner, Part 2: