7 - 4 - 2021 - Expert blogs

Tools for fast strategic innovation: part 4

In this last part of my blog series, I'll elaborate on the strategic innovation model from its user's point of view and provide some answers to questions that might have crossed your mind reading this blog series.

When to use the method?

The main motive for developing this method was to create new, better ways for minimizing the risks to end up developing business with no markets.

This model differentiates how it focuses on the first steps of the innovation process where most of the other productized methods skip this step lightly, assuming the idea is valid and focusing more on the concept design of the product/service.

Thus, this tool's main benefit is that it's a fast and cost-effective way to validate new business ideas at an early stage. The results will show

  1. If there is space and need for this idea in the markets

  2. What kind of value proposition would be the most profitable

  3. What elements should be studied further, and how the innovation process should continue.

The answers give a wide enough perspective that the risks in the innovation process will be minimized.

The business perspective is deliberately limited in this phase: there's no reason to think about cost-structure or delivery chain this soon – it would only end up building risks and time wasted. First, it's essential to make sure if the innovation in question is needed. If so, the next question is the business model.

Who can use it and how?

The person using this model is most likely a strategic innovator or business designer working as a consultant or from the organization itself. Their assignment is to focus on a specific business problem and to provide an answer by using the 5-day-process and methods.

This model will help regardless of the contribution from the company. It works as well used by a third-party consultant who can study the matter and help link the innovation to the strategic level by providing the results in such a way that it resonates throughout the company. For the company, this is a fairly cheap, effective, and risk-free way to advance with innovation.

Using the model is not challenging, nor does it require special skills. The user follows the process step by step, using the listed publicly available tools, writing and illustrating. Experience from using post-its is considered a benefit. Creating the summary is like making any other PowerPoint presentation.

The time limit guarantees the effectiveness of the model. The fact that I managed to pass through the process in five days while at the same time creating it is promising: the time limit should be realistic and easily repeatable. It does not require being routined. Of course, to meet the time limits, one needs to have at least a basic understanding of the subjects at hand and to be able to collect and process information professionally.

When this method is carried out working solo, we meet one of the risks in the innovation process: not involving the organization. Thus, it's important to carry out the following phases (presenting the results, the next steps in the innovation process) by openly involving all different parties (such as managers, product owners, engineers) from the organization to the process.

How generally effective is it?

The method is suitable for processing any kind of product or service idea. It can be considered working regardless of the sector or industry. It focuses on the customers, competition, and markets in a generic manner.

The process and methods work both

  • In a situation where the company has an existing product or service (or advanced business idea) that is looking for new markets

  • With idea-level concepts where the value proposition can be formed quite freely to meet the customer and market needs.

The model was developed to serve different kinds of strategic innovation needs, and the assumption is that it works equally well with incremental and disruptive innovations.

The generic effect of the model can be seen from three perspectives:

  1. It brings a new theoretical contribution to strategic innovation studies

  2. It's a concrete, general-purpose, and productized tool for companies

  3. It lowers the risks in product and service innovation.

How could it be developed further?

One of the typical risks in product and service innovation is that the whole organization is not involved. To tackle this, the strategic innovation model could be developed in a way that the information for the assignment would be formally collected from all relevant stakeholders inside the company. This can improve the success rate of the following product/service implementation project. At the same time, the process should still stay fast and agile.

One interesting angle would be to consider the type of innovation and how it affects the process. With incremental innovation, the assignments and the supporting material are likely to be more thorough than with radical innovation. With disruptive ideas, there's no existing competition or market segment to fill, and the customers will be the so-called "leaders" and "early adopters." This forces the user of the method to be even more creative when trying to understand the actual competition over segment borders and the real needs of the assumed customers.

Other interesting topics for further research and development are, for example, to:

  • Create the next formal iteration steps for the innovation process

  • Collect feedback from companies testing the model

  • Outline the roles of the company/customer and the user of the model: what is needed and expected in the minimum from different parties

  • Identify and classify different innovation needs that the model could support even better

  • Study the gain of involving the organization and other stakeholders in different phases of the innovation process

If the tools for strategic innovation brought any comments or questions in mind, do not hesitate to contact me. I'll be happy to discuss the topic and explain it further.


Heidi Vaarala

Would you like to know more? contact:

Tom Hannelius

Director, Software Consulting


Heidi Vaarala

Heidi Vaarala

Share article

Stay on top of the industry trends and subscribe to our newsletter

The most important news, inspiring articles, and up-to-date insights from our experts across various industries and information about our upcoming events.

Accept the terms and conditions. We handle your information responsibly.
Please review our privacy policy.