Innovation Value Webs to drive innovation Part 2

Posted on: May 5, 2015 by Jan Krans

In the first post, it has been argued that traditional innovation processes are not always the best-equipped method to realize new business innovations. In this post, we take a look at another way to organize the innovation process, whereby should be noted that both approaches can co-exist and can be best applied where they will bring the most benefit.

Innovation value webs

Enterprise social software has opened an opportunity window for innovation inside and outside the enterprise. An innovation value web utilizes the possibilities offered by enterprise social software to connect people, ideas, and budget not hindered by hierarchical structures and/or organizational boundaries. It focuses and provides a communication and collaboration infrastructure for innovation, supported by nonlinear innovation process based on agile and lean startup methods, leading to new products, services, business models and consequently, new revenue streams.

In an Innovation Value web the basic innovation process is still the same (idea generation, conversion, and diffusion), but it’s not a linear process anymore and it uses social networks to start and guide the process.


Internal start-up competitions

In the case of Atos the social software solution of blueKiwi has been implemented, which ships with a basic ideation module for guiding the innovation process. This is ideal for cross pollination idea generation, since it offers the opportunity to everybody in the company to participate in the innovation process. It has been successfully applied in the case of internal start-up competitions offering employees the possibility to share innovative business ideas which could be implemented when selected.

To take part of the competition you just become a member of the community and follow the presented format for positioning your idea and may the best win. An example of an external facing Innovation Value Web is the Atos IT challenge whereby students from all over the world are invited to participate. The 2015 edition focuses on ways how to enhance people’s lives and provide value added services through the application of Internet of Things and the winners will be announced on June 15th.

Present innovative business ideas

By using social software large scale enterprises are able to reach out to anybody in- or outside the organization to present their innovative business ideas, but innovation process itself look still linear and almost the same as the stage gate approach. Correct, let’s take a closer look at how an innovation value web could be applied and the main differences will surface.

Atos - Ascent - Innovation Value Webs - The Innovation Funnel

If you take a closer look at the above innovation funnel, you can easily spot the main difference. Already in the second phase, idea validation, you will be able to confront the market with the business idea by talking to potential customers to test your assumptions. But you have to find or be spotted by an internal business owner first. This could be a sales manager/director, portfolio manager/director or/and a business unit leader somewhere in the organization and they will help you to get access to the potential clients to validate your business idea.

So just after a few weeks you will know if your innovative business idea is as good as is, needs tweaking, has to pivot or has no chance to survive. You apply the so-called Build, Measure and Learn loop. Basically it is a process of continuous testing your business hypotheses in the face of potential customers, apply the learning and ‘go out the building’ again in a rather short time frame. In worst case you fail fast and you failed cheap and have learned a lot and if you did it right, you found your first customer(s).


Holistic view

The reason why business owners will step into your idea is because you have presented it in a holistic view by making use of the Lean Canvas. This is a representation of your idea supported by your best guesses how to address broad customer problem with your solution and how to deliver them to specific customer segments through a unique value proposition supported by a viable business model.

Atos - Ascent - Innovation Value Webs - Lean Canvas

The lean canvas will evolve, grow and change over time due to the learning experience; it has become the backbone during the whole process and will be updated frequently in the search for a repeatable and scalable business model. The lean canvas is there to convince the business owner to step into the idea on the one hand and to support a continuous learning process to discover and verify all the unknowns on the other.

We could go more in depth, but I think you can already grasp a bit the difference between the traditional innovation approach and the value web approach.

To conclude

Just like in most cases, with innovation it is not an ‘or’ but an ‘and’ story. Large scale enterprises have the tendency to formalize innovation in separate organizational units and give them a nice spot in the org chart, which is not wrong and can deliver great results, but when the same rules of day-to-day business, executing a known business model, are applied to the innovation process, positive outcomes will be threatened.

With the introduction of social software in a large scale enterprise, new opportunities to drive business innovation could be unleashed with no need for hierarchical structures. Social software allows employees to connect to each other across organizational silo’s and geographical boundaries to form communities and networks for innovation. All employees can be innovators and all formal leaders can adopt a good business innovation idea to help it drive forward to discover the true business potential by the adoption of the Innovation Value Web vision. No need for hierarchical structures and big formal budget with business cases and reporting KPI’s. The only thing top management has to do is to take a stand and embrace and acknowledge the existence of an Innovation Value Web to unleash the power of all to innovate. Are you ready to enhance your existing innovation strategy with Innovation Value Webs? Does it fit into your journey 2018?

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About Jan Krans
Director Enterprise Collaboration, Social Collaboration & Knowledge Sharing and member of the Scientific Community
Jan Krans is Group Director Enterprise Collaboration, Social Collaboration & Knowledge Sharing, a member of the Scientific Community and a Lecturer at The Hague University. Jan is specialized in new ways of working in combination with social business and he likes to surf. Not only the web, but also waves and wind, to get a clear mind and to be connected to nature’s forces. Do you want to be in contact? Just send a tweet to @Vivjan or drop a line at

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