Managing Innovation as Portfolios

Managing Innovation as Portfolios: Taking a Strategic Approach to Innovation to Become an Industry Leader

Taking a Strategic Approach to Innovation to Become an Industry Leader

In today’s dynamic business landscape, where change is the only constant, innovation has become the lifeline for organisations striving to achieve industry leadership. However, the pursuit of innovation can be both exciting and daunting, as organisations often find themselves grappling with multiple ideas and projects vying for limited resources. Here, the concept of managing innovation as portfolios emerges as a powerful strategy to optimise decision-making processes, leading to more informed choices about where to experiment and where to invest further. By understanding innovation as a diverse collection of projects, each with unique risks and potential rewards, companies can effectively chart a course towards becoming industry leaders. In this article, we will explore how managing innovation as portfolios can empower organisations to make confident decisions that drive sustainable growth and propel them to the forefront of their respective industries, with real-life examples to illustrate its impact.

Holistic Approach to Innovation:

Embracing innovation as portfolios entails viewing the organisation’s initiatives as a collection of interconnected projects rather than isolated endeavours. By adopting this approach, companies gain a comprehensive understanding of their innovation landscape. For instance, technology giants like Google and Microsoft curate diverse portfolios encompassing various products and services across different domains. This strategy allows them to hedge their bets on different ideas, ensuring that even if some projects fail, others succeed and contribute to their overall growth. The holistic approach minimises the risks associated with single-point failures and enables companies to adapt to changing market dynamics.

Risk Management and Resource Allocation:

Every innovation project carries inherent risks, ranging from technological feasibility to market acceptance. By managing innovation as portfolios, organisations can spread risks across multiple initiatives, reducing the potential impact of any single failure. An excellent example of this is Procter & Gamble (P&G), which maintains a vast innovation portfolio that encompasses a wide range of consumer products. If one product faces challenges or lacks market traction, the success of other products can compensate for the losses. Moreover, efficient resource allocation ensures that valuable time and capital are dedicated to projects with the highest potential for transformative impact, enhancing the probability of industry leadership.

Fostering a Culture of Experimentation:

Innovation portfolios encourage a culture of experimentation within organisations, empowering teams to test bold ideas and embrace failure as a stepping stone towards success. Amazon, renowned for its innovative practices, follows this philosophy by nurturing a culture that encourages employees to experiment with new products and services. By maintaining a diversified innovation portfolio, organisations can create an environment where calculated risk-taking is rewarded, leading to breakthrough discoveries and paving the way for industry leadership.

Market Segmentation and Customer-Centricity:

Managing innovation as portfolios also allows organisations to tailor their efforts to specific market segments and customer needs. Apple, a pioneer in this approach, regularly releases a variety of products aimed at different consumer segments, such as the iPhone SE for budget-conscious customers and the iPhone Pro for high-end users. This targeted strategy ensures that innovation efforts resonate with diverse customer groups, effectively increasing market share and fostering industry leadership.

Learning and Adaptation:

Innovation portfolios offer organisations valuable insights into their projects’ performance and the market’s response. Through continuous evaluation and learning, companies can adapt their innovation strategies to align with emerging trends and opportunities. A prominent example is Tesla, whose innovation portfolio initially focused on high-end electric vehicles but later expanded to include mass-market models. This adaptive approach enables companies to stay ahead of the competition and maintain their position as industry leaders.


Innovation has emerged as a crucial factor in determining an organisation’s ability to attain industry leadership. By adopting the concept of managing innovation as portfolios, companies can navigate the complex landscape of innovation with confidence and strategic clarity. The holistic approach allows businesses to diversify their risks, allocate resources efficiently, foster experimentation, cater to diverse customer needs, and adapt to changing market conditions. As exemplified by trailblazing companies like Google, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Amazon, Apple, and Tesla, this strategy empowers organisations to make informed decisions about where to experiment and where to invest further, propelling them towards the coveted position of industry leaders. Embracing innovation as portfolios is not just a way to achieve short-term success; it is a mindset that cultivates sustainable growth and cements a company’s reputation as a pioneering force within its industry.