“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” — Peter Drucker
Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity, not a threat, and to leverage frameworks that guide our creativity, collaboration, and strategic focus.
For more than a decade at Microsoft, I have had the privilege of partnering with leaders, teams, organizations, and individuals across a diverse range of industries, helping them unlock their innovation potential.
Through a combination of methodologies, frameworks, creative techniques, and proven practices, I’ve led transformative journeys that have reshaped the way industries operate to compete better with technology.
From automotive to banking, education to healthcare, retail to media, telco to manufacturing, and even venturing into the future of cities, sports, and the department of defense, I’ve witnessed the power of innovation at its finest.
On This Page:
Innovation is the Driving Force
Top 10 Innovation Frameworks
1. 10X Thinking
2. Blue Ocean
3. Business Model Canvas
4. Business Model Navigator
5. Creative Problem Solving
6. Design Thinking
7. Innovation Ambition Matrix
8. Jobs to Be Done
9. Lean Startup
10. McKinsey 3 Horizon
More Innovation Frameworks
Innovation is the Driving Force of Today’s World
Innovation is a critical driving force for success in today’s rapidly evolving world. It’s no longer a luxury but a necessity for organizations to stay relevant, competitive, and impactful.
As industries undergo unprecedented disruption, embracing innovative approaches has become the key to survival and growth. However, embarking on the innovation journey can be a daunting task without the right guidance and frameworks.
Whether you are an executive leading a multinational corporation, an entrepreneur launching a startup, or an individual looking to make a difference, these innovation frameworks will provide you with the tools, insights, and inspiration needed to revolutionize your approach to innovation.
Prepare to explore moonshot thinking, navigate blue oceans, harness the power of design thinking, and embark on lean startup journeys that will redefine the way you innovate.
Top 10 Innovation Frameworks
There are numerous innovation frameworks available, and the effectiveness of each can vary depending on the context and goals.
Here are 10 well-regarded innovation frameworks:
- 10X Thinking: By leveraging the power of 10X thinking, businesses can push boundaries and achieve breakthrough innovations that redefine industries. The 10x thinking innovation framework, popularized by Google’s “Moonshot Thinking,” encourages aiming for solutions that are ten times better rather than just incremental improvements. It challenges conventional thinking and pushes for radical breakthroughs.
- Blue Ocean Strategy: Blue Ocean Strategy helps companies discover untapped market spaces and create uncontested value by identifying new market opportunities and developing unique value propositions.
- Business Model Canvas: Provides a visual representation of the key elements of a business model, helping you explore innovative ways to create, deliver, and capture value.
- Business Model Navigator: A framework developed by Oliver Gassmann, Karolin Frankenberger, and Michaela Csik, which helps businesses navigate through various business model options and identify new opportunities for growth and innovation.
- Creative Problem Solving: Creative Problem Solving encourages divergent thinking and ideation. It’s a systematic approach to problem-solving that involves generating and evaluating multiple ideas and solutions through techniques such as brainstorming, mind mapping, and lateral thinking.
- Design Thinking: Design Thinking ensures a human-centered approach to innovation. It’s an approach that focuses on understanding user needs, generating ideas, and prototyping solutions.
- Innovation Ambition Matrix: Innovation Ambition Matrix helps you prioritize innovation initiatives based on ambition and focus. It’s a tool that helps organizations assess and prioritize their innovation initiatives by considering the ambition level (radical or incremental) and the focus area (internal or external) of each project or idea.
- Jobs to Be Done: Understanding customer needs and motivations through Jobs to Be Done enhances your product and service design. It’s a framework that focuses on understanding the underlying motivations and desired outcomes of customers, allowing businesses to design products or services that effectively address the “jobs” customers want to accomplish.
- Lean Startup: Lean Startup methodology fosters agility and adaptability, minimizing risks and maximizing learning. It a framework that emphasizes rapid experimentation, customer feedback, and iterative development to build products or services with a higher probability of success.
- McKinsey 3 Horizon: The McKinsey 3 Horizon framework provides a strategic perspective, balancing current business operations with emerging opportunities. It’s a framework that categorizes innovation initiatives into three horizons based on their timeframes and potential impact: Horizon 1 (current core business), Horizon 2 (adjacent markets and opportunities), and Horizon 3 (emerging and disruptive ideas).
These frameworks and methodologies offer valuable approaches to stimulate innovation, develop unique value propositions, solve problems creatively, and navigate the complexities of business models and growth opportunities.
Each of these frameworks has its unique strengths and applications. Choosing the best framework depends on the specific context, goals, and challenges faced by an organization or individual.
Let’s walkthrough each one…
#1. 10X Thinking
10X Thinking refers to the mindset and approach of aiming for outcomes that are ten times greater than what is typically expected or considered achievable.
It involves pushing the boundaries, thinking big, and challenging conventional thinking.
Why Use 10X Thinking
Why use 10X thinking:
- Breakthrough Innovation: 10X thinking encourages bold and innovative ideas that have the potential to disrupt industries and create significant impact. By aiming for outcomes that are ten times greater, it pushes individuals and organizations to think beyond incremental improvements and seek game-changing solutions.
- Competitive Advantage: Adopting a 10X thinking mindset allows you to differentiate yourself from competitors. It enables you to explore uncharted territories, identify untapped market opportunities, and develop unique value propositions that set you apart in the market. By challenging the status quo, you can gain a competitive advantage and position yourself as a leader in your field.
- Stretching Boundaries: 10X thinking challenges the limitations and self-imposed constraints that may hold you back. It encourages you to question assumptions, expand your imagination, and explore possibilities that may seem unrealistic at first. By stretching your boundaries, you unlock new perspectives and unleash untapped potential.
- Motivation and Inspiration: Setting audacious goals and pursuing 10X outcomes can ignite motivation and inspiration within individuals and teams. It fuels ambition, energizes efforts, and creates a sense of purpose. 10X thinking drives individuals to reach higher and achieve extraordinary results, creating a positive impact on personal and organizational performance.
When to Use 10X Thinking
When to use 10X thinking:
- Strategic Planning: Incorporating 10X thinking in strategic planning allows you to envision ambitious goals and chart a bold course for the future. It helps you identify breakthrough opportunities, shape long-term vision, and align resources and actions towards achieving extraordinary outcomes.
- Innovation and Product Development: When exploring new product or service ideas, 10X thinking can drive disruptive innovation. It encourages you to challenge existing paradigms, reimagine user experiences, and develop groundbreaking solutions that revolutionize industries.
- Problem-Solving and Decision-Making: In complex or challenging situations, 10X thinking can provide fresh perspectives and unlock creative solutions. By pushing beyond conventional thinking, you can overcome obstacles, find innovative approaches, and drive transformative change.
- Personal Growth and Development: Adopting a 10X thinking mindset can foster personal growth and development. It encourages continuous learning, risk-taking, and embracing new opportunities. By setting audacious personal goals, you can stretch your capabilities and achieve extraordinary results.
It’s important to note that while 10X thinking can be powerful, it may not be suitable for every situation. It requires a balance between ambitious goals and realistic execution.
It’s crucial to assess the feasibility and resources required to pursue 10X outcomes effectively.
Example of 10X Thinking
Here’s an example of a table illustrating the application of 10x thinking in different areas:
|Industry/Field||Current State||10x Thinking Idea|
|Transportation||Traditional cars||Self-driving flying vehicles for personal transport|
|Healthcare||Traditional hospitals||Portable, instant diagnosis and treatment devices for remote areas|
|Education||Traditional classrooms||Virtual reality-based immersive learning experiences|
|Energy||Fossil fuels||Clean, renewable energy sources with zero emissions|
|Communication||Wired internet||Global, free internet access using satellite technology|
|Food||Traditional farming||Vertical farms with automated systems for sustainable urban agriculture|
|Housing||Traditional construction||Affordable 3D-printed homes with smart, energy-efficient features|
|Entertainment||Traditional movie theaters||Interactive, multi-sensory entertainment experiences|
|Space||Rocket-based launches||Space elevators for cost-effective and efficient access to space|
|Finance||Traditional banking||Decentralized, secure digital currencies replacing traditional banking systems|
These examples showcase how 10x thinking can lead to disruptive innovations that challenge the status quo and open up new possibilities for improvement and advancement in various industries and fields.
An example of applying the 10x thinking framework could be in the field of transportation. Instead of improving existing modes of transportation, such as making cars slightly more fuel-efficient or enhancing public transportation systems, 10x thinking would envision and pursue revolutionary concepts like autonomous flying vehicles or hyperloop systems that can transport people at extremely high speeds.
This framework prompts innovators to think beyond what seems feasible or realistic in the present and strive for transformative solutions that can have a substantial impact on society.
#2. Blue Ocean
By using the Blue Ocean Strategy, you can break away from the competition, unlock new market spaces, and create a unique value proposition that resonates with customers.
It provides a systematic approach to market differentiation and innovation, enabling long-term growth and increased customer relevance.
The Blue Ocean Strategy is a business framework that advocates for the creation of uncontested market spaces, or “blue oceans,” rather than competing in overcrowded and competitive markets, known as “red oceans.”
It emphasizes the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost to deliver exceptional value to customers.
By identifying unmet customer needs, exploring new market segments, and developing innovative business models, organizations can escape the constraints of intense competition and achieve sustained growth and profitability.
When to Use Blue Ocean Strategy
When to use Blue Ocean Strategy:
- Stagnant or Competitive Markets: Blue Ocean Strategy is particularly relevant when existing markets are saturated or highly competitive. If you find that your industry is characterized by cut-throat competition and diminishing returns, exploring blue ocean opportunities can provide a fresh perspective for growth.
- New Business Ventures: When starting a new business or launching a new product or service, the Blue Ocean Strategy can help you differentiate yourself from competitors and establish a unique value proposition. It allows you to create a new market space where you have a greater chance of success.
- Strategic Decision-Making: If you’re faced with critical strategic decisions, such as expanding into new markets or diversifying your product line, employing the Blue Ocean Strategy can help you identify untapped market opportunities and guide your decision-making process.
Why Use Blue Ocean Strategy
Why use Blue Ocean Strategy:
- Market Differentiation: Blue Ocean Strategy enables you to differentiate your offering from competitors by creating a unique value proposition. By identifying unmet customer needs or creating entirely new market segments, you can attract customers who are not currently being served by existing solutions.
- Reduced Competition: The Blue Ocean Strategy allows you to minimize direct competition by focusing on creating new market spaces. This approach opens up opportunities for higher profit margins and growth without being constrained by the intense competition typically found in red oceans.
- Value Innovation: The Blue Ocean Strategy encourages value innovation, which involves simultaneously pursuing differentiation and low cost. By delivering exceptional value to customers at a lower cost, you can appeal to new market segments and gain a competitive advantage.
- Long-Term Growth: Creating blue oceans allows for sustained growth and profitability. By constantly seeking new market opportunities and adapting to changing customer needs, you can build a sustainable business model that is less susceptible to industry disruptions.
- Increased Customer Relevance: Blue Ocean Strategy emphasizes understanding customer needs deeply and designing products or services that directly address those needs. This customer-centric approach increases the relevance of your offerings, driving customer loyalty and attracting new customers.
Red Ocean vs. Blue Ocean Approach
Here’s a simpel comparison of Red Ocean vs. Blue Ocean:
|Red Ocean Strategy||Blue Ocean Strategy|
|Compete in existing market space||Create uncontested market space|
|Focus on beating the competition||Focus on creating new demand|
|Exploit existing demand and market conditions||Generate new demand and create new market conditions|
|Compete for existing customers||Attract new customers and non-customers|
|Price-based competition||Value-based differentiation|
|Incremental innovation||Breakthrough innovation|
|Focus on operational effectiveness||Focus on strategic differentiation|
|Highly competitive and crowded market||Open and untapped market space|
Example of Blue Ocean Strategy
Here’s an example of Blue Ocean Strategy applied to a well-known company, Apple Inc.:
|Blue Ocean Strategy Framework||Apple Inc. Example|
|Reduce||Streamlined product lineup (iPhone, iPad, Mac)|
|Simplified user interfaces|
|Minimized physical buttons|
|Eliminated CD/DVD drives|
|Reduced product complexity|
|Create||Innovative and intuitive touch screen technology|
|App Store ecosystem|
|Seamless integration across devices (Mac, iPhone, iPad)|
|Apple ecosystem (iTunes, iCloud, Apple Music)|
|Design-focused, user-friendly products|
|Raise||Premium pricing strategy|
|Brand reputation for quality and innovation|
|Customer loyalty and fanbase|
|Strong marketing and advertising campaigns|
|Strategic partnerships (e.g., with app developers, music artists)|
|Eliminate||Non-essential features and functions|
|Compatibility with third-party software|
|Traditional retail channels|
|Wires and cables|
|Reduce||Complicated pricing options|
|Overlapping product lines|
|Dependency on external software and hardware|
|Complexity in device setup and configuration|
|Cumbersome file management|
In this example, Apple Inc. successfully applied the Blue Ocean Strategy framework to create uncontested market space.
By focusing on reducing and eliminating certain elements while creating and raising other elements, Apple differentiated itself in the crowded consumer electronics market and created a unique value proposition for its customers.
#3. Business Model Canvas
The Business Model Canvas is a valuable tool for understanding, evaluating, and communicating your business model. It helps identify opportunities for innovation, supports strategic decision-making, and facilitates collaboration.
By using the canvas, you can optimize your business model, adapt to changing market conditions, and create sustainable value for your customers and stakeholders.
Why Use the Business Model Canvas
Here’s why the Business Model Canvas is worth caring about, along with information on what it is, when to use it, and an example:
- Holistic Understanding: The Business Model Canvas helps you gain a comprehensive understanding of your business model. It allows you to see the interconnections between different elements and how they work together to create value for customers and generate revenue.
- Identifying Opportunities: By mapping out your business model on the canvas, you can identify gaps, inefficiencies, or areas for improvement. It helps uncover potential opportunities for innovation, differentiation, or optimization.
- Effective Communication: The canvas provides a visual and concise way to communicate your business model to stakeholders, team members, and investors. It allows for clear and shared understanding, facilitating collaboration and decision-making.
- Adaptability and Iteration: The Business Model Canvas is a flexible tool that can be easily adjusted and iterated upon as your business evolves. It enables you to quickly update and test different aspects of your model, responding to market changes and customer needs.
When to Use the Business Model Canvas
When to use the Business Model Canvas:
- Startup Planning: When launching a new venture, the canvas helps you design a coherent and viable business model from the outset. It prompts you to consider key aspects such as value proposition, customer segments, revenue streams, and cost structure.
- Business Model Evaluation: The canvas is useful when evaluating an existing business model. It allows you to assess the effectiveness of your current approach, identify areas of weakness, and explore potential modifications or innovations.
- Strategic Decision-Making: The canvas aids in strategic decision-making by providing a holistic view of your business model. It helps align various elements, such as partnerships, resources, and channels, with your overall strategic goals.
Example Business Model Canvas
Example: Let’s consider the example of a food delivery service. The Business Model Canvas for this service may include key components such as:
- Customer Segments: Busy professionals, families, and individuals seeking convenience.
- Value Proposition: Fast and reliable food delivery with a wide range of restaurant options.
- Channels: Mobile app and website for placing orders, along with a fleet of delivery personnel.
- Customer Relationships: Timely and responsive customer support.
- Revenue Streams: Commissions from partner restaurants for each order placed.
- Key Activities: Order management, coordination with restaurants, and delivery logistics.
- Key Resources: Technology infrastructure, delivery fleet, and customer service team.
- Key Partnerships: Agreements with restaurants for collaboration and shared revenue.
- Cost Structure: Operational costs (staffing, logistics, technology), marketing expenses.
By visualizing these components on the Business Model Canvas, the food delivery service can analyze its model, identify areas for improvement, and explore innovative ideas. For example, they may identify opportunities to enhance customer relationships through personalized experiences or consider strategic partnerships to expand their restaurant network.
#4. Business Model Navigator
By utilizing the Business Model Navigator, organizations can expand their thinking beyond conventional boundaries, discover untapped opportunities, and adapt their business models to meet evolving market demands.
It provides a structured approach to foster innovation, drive growth, and ensure long-term success in a dynamic and competitive business landscape.
Why Use the Business Model Navigator
Here are some key reasons for using the Business Model Navigator:
- Explore Diverse Business Models: The Business Model Navigator encourages organizations to consider a wide range of business model options beyond their existing approaches. It expands the horizons of thinking and promotes exploration of alternative strategies to unlock new sources of value.
- Identify New Growth Opportunities: By examining different business model patterns and archetypes, the Business Model Navigator helps identify unexplored opportunities for innovation and growth. It provides a structured framework to challenge assumptions, break through traditional boundaries, and discover new market spaces.
- Navigate Market Disruptions: The framework is particularly valuable during times of market disruptions or when industries face significant changes. It enables organizations to proactively navigate through uncertainty and seize emerging opportunities by adapting or transforming their business models.
- Enhance Strategic Decision-Making: The Business Model Navigator empowers strategic decision-making by providing a structured framework to evaluate the feasibility and potential of different business models. It facilitates the assessment of risks, benefits, and trade-offs associated with each option, supporting informed choices.
- Foster Organizational Learning: The framework encourages a culture of continuous learning and experimentation within organizations. It allows teams to explore diverse perspectives, challenge the status quo, and engage in iterative processes of business model innovation.
When to Use the Business Model Navigator
When to use the Business Model Navigator:
- Strategic Planning: The Business Model Navigator is beneficial during strategic planning processes. It helps organizations assess their current business models, explore new avenues, and align their strategies with changing market dynamics.
- New Market Entry: When entering new markets or launching new products/services, the framework aids in evaluating and designing innovative business models that are better suited to the target market and customer needs.
- Industry Disruption: In the face of industry disruptions or technological advancements, the Business Model Navigator helps organizations navigate uncertainty and identify new paths for sustainable growth.
- Innovation and Transformation Initiatives: The framework is relevant when organizations seek to drive innovation or initiate transformative changes within their existing business models. It enables them to systematically explore, experiment, and implement new approaches.
Example of the Business Model Navigator
Here’s an example table illustrating the Business Model Navigator framework with an easy-to-relate example:
|Initiation||Analyze your current business model and the external environment||Analyze customer needs, competitor landscape, and industry trends|
|Ideation||Explore and compare relevant business model patterns||Identify successful business models in similar industries|
|Integration||Shape your new business model based on insights and adaptations||Create a unique value proposition and revenue model|
|Implementation||Implement and test your new business model in the market||Launch pilot projects and gather feedback from customers|
By following the Business Model Navigator framework, organizations can systematically analyze their existing business model, generate new ideas, integrate them into a coherent model, and then implement and test the model in the market.
This structured approach helps businesses break away from their dominant industry logic and create innovative variants that can lead to competitive advantage and growth.
Remember that this is a simplified example, and the actual application of the Business Model Navigator framework can involve more detailed steps and considerations.
#5. Creative Problem Solving (CPS)
The Creative Problem Solving (CPS) technique can be considered a framework for approaching and solving problems. It provides a structured process and set of steps to guide individuals or teams in generating creative solutions to challenges or issues they encounter.
The CPS framework offers a systematic approach that encourages divergent thinking, idea generation, evaluation, and implementation, helping to unlock innovative solutions.
The original steps in the Creative Problem-Solving process, as developed by Alex Osborn and Sidney Parnes, are often referred to as the “Osborn-Parnes Model.” These steps provide a structured approach to problem-solving and idea generation.
Creative Problem Solving 21st Century
Creative Problem Solving 21st Century is an innovative approach to problem-solving developed by Roger Firestien. It’s an updated version of the traditional Creative Problem Solving (CPS) process, specifically designed to meet the challenges and demands of the 21st century.
Creative Problem Solving 21st Century provides a structured framework that incorporates both divergent and convergent thinking, encouraging participants to explore possibilities, challenge assumptions, and think outside the box.
Creative Problem Solving 21st Century equips individuals and teams with the mindset, tools, and techniques needed to navigate complex challenges, drive innovation, and find practical solutions in today’s rapidly changing world. It encourages collaboration, embraces diverse perspectives, and promotes an environment where creativity and problem-solving thrive.
Steps of the Creative Problem Solving
The key stages of Creative Problem Solving 21st Century typically include:
- Clarify the Problem: Clearly define the problem or challenge, identify objectives, constraints, and desired outcomes. Explore the problem from different perspectives and gain a comprehensive understanding.
- Generate Ideas: Engage in divergent thinking to generate a wide range of ideas and potential solutions. Quantity is emphasized, and judgment is deferred to encourage free-flowing creativity and exploration of possibilities.
- Develop Solutions: Evaluate, refine, and develop the generated ideas into viable solutions. Consider feasibility, practicality, and potential impact. Analyze available resources and constraints to ensure the implementation of effective solutions.
- Plan for Action: Create a detailed plan of action to guide the implementation of the selected solution. Define specific steps, assign responsibilities, set timelines, and identify necessary resources. Develop strategies for overcoming potential obstacles and ensure successful execution.
Why use Creative Problem Solving
I’m a fan of proven practices and real-world results. The big reason for me is this quote from Roger Firestien:
“The beautiful thing about this process is that you wn’t have to worry about getting creative ideas–they’re a natural product of Creative Problem-Solving. And in over 40 years in this business, I have not seen it fail.”
— Roger Firestien, Create in a Flash
Here are key reasons for using Creative Problem Solving:
- Breakthrough Solutions: Creative Problem Solving helps break through conventional thinking patterns and allows for the generation of fresh, original ideas. It encourages individuals and teams to explore new perspectives, challenge assumptions, and think beyond traditional boundaries, leading to breakthrough solutions.
- Diverse Perspectives: This approach brings together diverse perspectives, experiences, and expertise. By involving individuals with different backgrounds and skill sets, Creative Problem Solving promotes collaboration, knowledge sharing, and the cross-pollination of ideas, resulting in richer and more robust problem-solving processes.
- Enhance Innovation and Adaptability: Creative Problem Solving nurtures a culture of innovation within organizations. It equips individuals with the mindset, techniques, and tools to adapt to changing circumstances, embrace new challenges, and continuously find innovative solutions in dynamic environments.
- Overcome Stagnation and Barriers: When organizations face stagnant growth, recurring problems, or obstacles hindering progress, Creative Problem Solving provides a structured approach to tackle these challenges. It helps identify root causes, explore alternative possibilities, and develop effective strategies to overcome barriers.
When to use Creative Problem Solving
When to use Creative Problem Solving:
- Complex or Ambiguous Problems: Creative Problem Solving is particularly useful when dealing with complex, ambiguous, or ill-defined problems that do not have straightforward solutions. It provides a systematic approach to analyze the problem, break it down into manageable parts, and generate innovative ideas to address the underlying issues.
- Idea Generation and Innovation: When organizations seek to generate new ideas or foster innovation, Creative Problem Solving can be employed to stimulate creativity, explore multiple possibilities, and ideate fresh solutions. It enables individuals and teams to think divergently, leading to a broader range of potential ideas.
- Process Improvement: Creative Problem Solving can be applied to improve existing processes within organizations. It helps identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, or areas for optimization, and encourages the development of innovative approaches to enhance productivity, streamline workflows, and drive continuous improvement.
- Team Collaboration and Decision-Making: When teams face complex decisions or need to align their efforts towards a common goal, Creative Problem Solving facilitates collaboration and consensus-building. It provides a structured framework for team members to contribute their ideas, engage in constructive dialogue, and collectively make informed decisions.