Building Innovation Capabilities

What is a corporate innovation capability and how to build it?

How to make enterprise innovation scalable and sustainable?

We fundamentally believe that innovation- and design-driven organizations have a long term advantage. When we work with clients, our aim is always to build a sustainable, in-house innovation capability. Not just run an Accelerator or a Design Sprint, but see how can make it stick within the enterprise. Innovation can be anchored in the company’s DNA by building and coaching an internal Innovation Team, setting up a train-the-trainer program, developing an innovation playbook and toolkit, or developing a larger multi-year transformation program.

design-driven companiesIn the last 10 years, design-driven companies outperformed S&P 500 by 211%.

Supporting Fortune 500 companies in innovation capacity building and transformation.

Examples of corporate innovation capabilities

What is an Innovation Capability?
An innovation capability is the ability to innovate in a consistent, systematic and sustainable way. This often involves setting up an in-house team, a governance structure, enabling tools and processes, and leadership support. Below is a set of examples of innovation and design capabilities we have built within large-scale organizations.

Customer-centric culture

If there’s one single thing we’ll owe Design Thinking for the rest of our lives, it’s the call for empathy. Put the end user at the very center of your innovation process, and you’ll design new solutions that customers will love.

Adaptability & agility

A fast-evolving world requires rapidly transforming capabilities to keep the pace. Make your employees accustomed to positive change, and find the right people who, by their own nature, thrive in change and agility.


An innovative culture and the right set of creativity techniques are essential. Enhance your team’s customer-focused mindset and skills in developing new products, services, and business concepts, as well as finding new markets for your innovative technology.


Turn your managers into intrapreneurs. Make them adopt a hands-on approach to their projects, using a wide variety of entrepreneurial tools as well as a structured intrapreneurship process to change ideas into market-ready solutions.


Encourage a culture of experimentation, where you learn as much as possible, as fast as possible. Invest 50k per cycle, instead of 500k. Iterate. Adopt Lean Startup’s build-measure-learn methodologies.

Innovation process

Although innovation needs it freedom to operate, a structured yet light-weight innovation process will enable innovation projects to move forward swiftly. A separate governance structure can help to safeguard innovation programs.

How to create an in-house innovation capacity?

Our experience in designing and running multiple innovation projects for Corporates like ING, Philips, Roche and other clients, has shaped our approach. Here’s how. We start with an innovation capability scan or assessment to define your innovation readiness and maturity.  Next to this capability audit, we offer inspiration of benchmarks on how to structure an innovation capability (central vs decentral, funding mechanisms, scalability options,…). Right away, we take a very hands-on approach; learning by doing through the following phases.

1. Discover

January – February

Run innovation capability assessment and define the current and desired state. Which innovation capabilities do we want to develop, what is the scope and timeline, what are the next steps in developing it.

More in-depth  details

2. Pilot

March – May

Learn by doing, via first pilots. Don’t just tell people what they should do – let them work on concrete projects. A study shows, learning by doing is 7x more effective than reading, and 15x than simply listening.

3. Adapt

June – August

Learn from the multiple organizational experiments and pilots, and preparing a program for scaling. This often involves setting up a Coach academy, refining Innovation Playbooks & Toolkits, re-engineering processes and governance, and getting leadership support for scaling.

4. Scale

September – December

Scale the innovation transformation to the broader organization, through habit formation programs and large scale communication campaigns. E.g. run a company-wide intrapreneurship program.

Innovation capability framework

You’ll get a clear overview of how to build an in-house capability.

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