This post comes from the perspective of Manuel Eanes.

I build my business around the belief that "a good process is more important than a good idea". A good strategic, operational, and company-wide planning process is more effective in producing meaningful, consequent innovation, than many "idea-generation" initiatives.

Q1

The process I recommend starts every year at the beginning of the year. The Senior Management Team (SMT) sit down to reflect on what possible game-changers may affect the industry or the company - typically those outside the current company or industry perimeter. These game-changer typically arise from visible - though not yet mature - trends in consumer behavior, in industry dynamics, in related industries taking part of the role of ours to consumers, in regulation and in the financial markets view of ours and related industries.

Q2

Should the items identifies in Q1 materialize with sufficient relevance (risk or opportunity), they are studied in depth by the best internal people and the strongest external advisors to produce one of three recommendations: (1) discard for now but keep watch; (2) set up a business team to seize the opportunity or mitigate the threat; (3) revise core strategy if necessary.

By the end of Q2, the SMT has the necessary qualified input to either maintain the strategy and business plan, incorporating more recent context knowledge, or change it materially - and to launch the new disruptive projects that may impact the next year. This process and the restatement or revision of the core strategy provides guidelines for business units to then conduct their process of business innovation and capitalize on their continuous effort of incremental innovation.

Q3

As a result, by the end of Q3, our business-units get together in front of the board (and each other) to discuss their plans and their innovation efforts. It is a powerful process by which you can "feel" the vibrance of the organization, stem further thought and innovation from cross-fertilization and coordinate plans naturally between many different functional areas or business units.

Q4

Finally, by the end of Q4, the plans are translated to operational and financial budgets and KPIs and made to fit the overall plan that serves as a basis and guideline for the overall result.

As a process it may sound not that sexy, but read in greater depth, it encompasses the basis for company-wide, consequent innovation. As a process, if well conducted, it can keep small and large company alive and vibrant for a long time.