10 Tactics to Drive Innovation When Resources Are Scarce

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Innovation is a non-negotiable; companies that don’t figure out solutions to stay ahead are easily outpaced by competitors, disruptive new technologies or emerging business ideas. But continuous innovation regardless of constraints is no small task. Business leaders are constantly bombarded with decisions that lead to budget constraints, team downsizing, and adoption of new technologies. 

Members of the Outthinker Intrapreneurs Network convened to address the challenge of how to effectively innovate and develop new products and services given limited resources. Below, discover 10 tried-and-proven tactics generated by senior innovation executives to incorporate into your innovation toolkit, independent of business constraints:

Ten non-traditional tactics to drive innovation when resources are scarce:

1. Leverage experienced but affordable offshore developers.

These types of workers can help build and innovate quickly within budget constraints. Focusing on locations with lower hourly rates but highly skilled talent can maximize resources.

2. Create dedicated funding pools for longer-term innovation efforts.

Formally ring-fencing a portion of the budget specifically for longer-term innovation efforts, separate from short-term product needs, brings financial rigor through market sizing analysis. This can facilitate approval for strategic projects despite limited funds.

3. Redeploy resources from other areas.

Assessing current projects, redeploying resources to align with the ideal innovation vision, and consulting customer advisory boards helps direct investment based on needs and priorities. 

4. Explore non-traditional funding sources.

There may be areas you have not considered, including government grants for certain industries, for example, which can provide innovation capital from outside regular budgeting. Thinking creatively about funding sources beyond the norm unlocks new possibilities. 

5. Adopt a Frugal Innovation mindset.

Taking a lean approach of applying a frugal innovation mindset throughout the business frees up resources to fund innovation priorities. The focus is on driving more value from limited resources.

6. Free up resources through optimization.

Optimizing lower priority areas of the business through technology and process improvements can free up funding for innovation by reducing costs elsewhere. 

7. Partner with customers to provide funding.

Finding passionate customers willing to fund accelerated development of specific innovations, in exchange for early access, brings outside investment targeted to the most promising ideas.

8. Re-evaluate your private equity strategy.

Leveraging the private equity ecosystem for creative funding, like the CEO’s own investment fund co-investing in innovations, thinks outside the box.

9. Draw innovative inspiration from lost clients or negative reviews.

Reviews of lost clients can identify missing features and opportunities, making the case for innovation to the board based on real customer needs. 

10. Adopt more agile practices.

Progressively training and transitioning to agile delivery. can increase innovation, flexibility, and responsiveness. One CSO in the healthcare industry sparked a transition to agile starting with simply relabeling roles project managers became scrum masters. 

While there is no one solution to the constraint of limited resources and funding, learning to reframe the possibilities and resources already at your disposal, along with the strategies mentioned above can help jumpstart your innovation efforts. These innovative ideas may drive product innovation and stakeholder alignment despite tight budgets and resources. 

The Outthinker Intrapreneurs Network is a global peer group of innovation executives and internal entrepreneurs determined to move their organizations to the next level. Members engage in curated learning, practical conversations, and networking opportunities to be more successful in performing their roles, solving their top challenges, and keeping their organizations ahead of the pace of disruption.


Claudio Garcia
Claudio GarciaPresident - OSN
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Karina Reyes
Karina ReyesProduct and Content Specialist
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