Understanding the Interplay of Strategy and Innovation in Business Success

Interplay between strategy and innovation

Tinkering your products

Let’s start by understanding the quote first. The act of ‘tinkering’ is often associated with experimentation and hands-on iterative development, which can lead to innovative solutions and breakthroughs that may not be found through traditional strategic planning.

It promotes the idea of learning by doing, and adjusting based on feedback and results, which can be crucial in product development.

However, this doesn’t mean that strategy is unimportant or unnecessary. The role of strategy is to provide a structured approach to achieving a company’s long-term goals, which includes more than just product development.

It covers areas such as market research, identifying target customers, marketing and sales, budgeting, resource allocation, risk management, and much more. In fact, strategy is necessary to ensure that the product being developed aligns with the company’s overall goals and the market’s needs.

Not mutually exclusive

Also, strategy and tinkering aren’t mutually exclusive. A good business strategy often involves a degree of experimentation and flexibility.

Companies need to be agile, adapt to market changes, and continuously improve their products and services based on feedback from customers and market trends. This is essentially a structured form of tinkering.

In essence, the development of great products is not a choice between tinkering and strategy, but rather a balance of both. It’s a combination of creative experimentation and structured planning, allowing companies to innovate while still staying aligned with their business goals and the market’s needs.

Therefore, while it’s important to value and encourage tinkering in product development, it shouldn’t be done at the expense of strategic planning.

There is no “one-liner solution”

That’s right, a one-liner, while catchy and memorable, is rarely able to capture the complexity and nuance of real-world situations.

The truth of the matter is that product development and business strategy are multidimensional and highly dependent on specific contexts and circumstances.

To reiterate, “tinkering” and “strategy” are not at odds with one another. Both are crucial components of a successful business. Tinkering can lead to innovation and a deep understanding of the product, while strategy provides a roadmap and context for that innovation. Tinkering should be part of the strategy!

Instead of seeking one-liner solutions, it’s generally more effective to embrace a comprehensive and balanced approach. This involves understanding the interplay between different elements of business operations (including tinkering and strategy), as well as recognizing the importance of adaptability and continuous learning in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business environment.

If there were to be a “one-liner” that might better encapsulate this holistic perspective, perhaps it would be something like: “Great products are born from the balance of innovation and strategy, influenced by continuous learning and adaptation.”

But even this, of course, cannot fully capture the breadth of factors at play in successful product development and business management.


While catchy one-liners like “Great products are built through tinkering, not strategy” highlight the value of experimentation and iterative development in product creation, they can oversimplify the multifaceted nature of business operations. Strategy provides the necessary structure for innovation, ensuring alignment with overall business goals and market needs. Hence, the success of a company should not be reduced to a single aspect but viewed as a complex interplay of several elements, with both strategy and innovation being key contributors.

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