Competition between businesses is not limited to national or international markets. It also occurs regionally and locally. In order to successfully compete, and thus lead, your industry (whether internationally or locally) requires understanding your customers’ problems. Following the lead of competitors is no longer sufficient. As customer needs change so must the business’ product & service offerings. This is also true in captured markets where product & service innovations continue to be necessary.

Changes in customer needs precede changes in the business environment. Opportunities for innovation, and thus industry leadership, are available at every turn (Drucker, 2002):

1) Unexpected Occurrences – are potentially available at any time, as are…

2) Incongruities – between use and purpose or expectations and results, are potentially available at any time. Both of these opportunities can be identified, evaluated, and leveraged through both top-down and bottom-up approaches;

3) Process Needs – are also potentially available at any time and are typically more effectively identified and evaluated through a bottom-up approach;

4) Industry & Market Changes – are infrequent and more difficult to anticipate. These opportunities are best identified, evaluated, and leveraged beginning with a top-down approach;

5) Demographic Changes – are another opportunity for innovation that is infrequent and more difficult to anticipate (although generational changes represent a consistent metric for identifying when to anticipate). These opportunities require KSA’s that are more likely to be evident in a top-down approach although one should not underestimate the contributions available through the company’s strategic leveraging of the bottom-up approach to initiate and/or expand upon the scanning process;

6) Changes in Perception – are occurring all the time and so present ongoing opportunities for innovation. The approach utilized, although inevitably emphasizing a top-down process, will depend upon the capacity and culture of the corporation;

7) New Knowledge – opportunities for innovation will vary depending on the industry. The tech sector will update its knowledge based competencies more regularly whereas the service sector will generally be less frequent (except in the case where technologies influence the provision of services). A top-down approach would be critical for identifying and evaluating what knowledge competencies to embed into the corporate culture. Translation, evaluation, and implementation would thus require some bottom-up elements in order to be sustainable.

Innovate 2.0

Remaining competitive requires the ability to adapt to changing customer needs. Thankfully, innovation has also extended to the business planning and tool sector with the introduction of business apps, templates, software, canvas’, and technologies. These new resources make it easy for any business to remain cutting edge and responsive to changing customer problems.

A Business Planning Framework & Evaluation Tool (in development, Innovate Vancouver) that brings all of these assets together will provide invaluable assistance to seeking to lead in their respective markets. The following infographic depicts 15 key business areas that must be addressed in order to remain a viable, adaptive, and innovative business.

Innovate Vancouver - Business Model Evaluation Tool (with border)

The era when business value chain definitions are determined by internal business processes and assets is over. Innovation is an essential business competency and as such the development of these competencies should be pursued strategically. Similarly, the company’s leveraging of these drivers and supporting competencies should also be developed and pursued strategically.

Travis Barker, MPA GCPM
Innovate Vancouver


Drucker, P. (2002, August 01). The Discipline of Innovation. Retrieved from



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