Innovation matrix

A complete overview of innovation programs: you define the benefits you expect from your innovation strategy, the innovation matrix will show you the most suitable program to activate.

What is this for?

Over the past 10 years, Board of Innovation has supported many large organizations in designing and executing a wide range of innovation initiatives. 

Navigating through all these different formats is not always easy. We’ve been asked many times by innovation managers questions like ‘what is the best innovation initiative for our organization?’ or ‘how do others tackle this problem?’.

To reply to these questions we’ve created a matrix that compares innovation initiatives. Surprisingly enough, we call it the innovation matrix.

This tool aims to support you in making the right decision when it comes to launching your next innovation program so that you can make the most out of your innovation budget.

Step-by-step guide.


Download this PDF and print it on an A4.


For each of the 16 innovation formats, determine the level of maturity your organization reached on that specific format.


Now look at the bigger picture: in which area of the matrix can you find your initiatives with the highest maturity? This should give you a sense of whether your organization is a hunter, a builder, an explorer or an experimenter.


Next, consider whether your organization is interested in gradually shifting its focus towards other areas of the matrix. Below, we’ve listed some common trends we’ve seen in the transformation of organizations over time.


Take concrete actions: how to start building new formats? We can give tailored support.

The 4 innovation archetypes

The hunter, the builder, the experimenter, and the explorer.


Co-create business

The hunter is the archetype located in the top left corner of the innovation matrix. Hunters represent a high commitment to innovation with a focus on external sources. Often, these types of organizations place heavy emphasis on cooperation with start-ups, acquisitions, and corporate venturing. In this way by acquiring external expertise and products, hunters put their high commitment to innovation into practice. 


Transform organizations

Builders sit at the top right corner of the quadrant. They have a high commitment to innovation but innovate mainly internally. This means they invest significant resources in transforming their organization and building highly innovative departments and even internal spin-offs.


Discover connections

The explorer is the low commitment variant of the hunter and is located at the bottom left corner of the matrix. Like the hunter, the explorer also mainly looks beyond their organization for new ideas. But they are still at the level of experimentation and don’t orient their entire organization towards innovation. An explorer might be a large corporation that is moving into innovation by having hackathons or initial contacts with start-ups.


Spark interest

The last archetype is the experimenter, which is located in the bottom right corner of the matrix. Experimenters represent a low commitment to innovation with a focus on internal innovation. These organizations focus their attention on internal actions such as innovation training and design sprints

The 16 formats of innovation

An overview of innovation programs.

The matrix is comprised of 16 main innovation formats that large organizations can run to reach growth through innovation. 

Venture fund
A corporate venture capital fund invests in external opportunities that could create growth outside of the core of the organization.

Structural partnership
A structural partnership is a formal collaboration between 2 companies with the aim to launch multiple joint ventures.

External incubator
An external incubator is a (physical) environment to support the growth and evaluate the value of external start-ups.

A scouting initiatives aims to regularly scan a specific opportunity area for interesting start-ups.

Innovation lab 
An innovation lab is a separate entity that hosts internal ventures with high potential before they are profitable.

Internal incubator 
A sandbox is a virtual or physical space to grow internal startups outside of the core organization and validate the market fit.

Innovation training 
A short learning track to grow the knowledge and interest of employees.

Co-creation session 
A co-creation session is a short ideation with customers or partners to turn mutual problems into ideas.

Center of excellence 
A center of excellence is a formal group of experts , that coordinates innovation initiatives, to embed innovation in the organization.

External accelerator 
An external accelerator is a program to support the validation of external startups.

Co-experimentation track 
A co-experimentation track is a joint test between 2 or more organizations to validate the solution fit of an idea.

Scouting startups is a methodological process to identify relevant startups in your field, validate their potential and engage with their founding members.

Internal accelerator 
An accelerator separates intrapreneurs outside of the organization to validate the solution fit of ideas.

Community of practice 
A community of practice is a crossfunctional group of innovation ambassadors.

Design sprint 
A design sprint is a short track to answer business questions through designing, prototyping, and testing with customers.

Innovation transformation 
The innovation transformation team is a central group of innovation leaders responsible for knowledge development.

Governance models

What is right for your company?


Experimentation with new innovation formats is most effective when done within one part of the organization. This allows you to do decentralized learning before scaling it op inside the full organization. Lead: Internal innovation manager.


Building capabilities is often an integrated effort that impacts the full organization. Sharing a common practice is most effective when done in the central organization. Lead: Transformation officer.


Exploring connections with the outside world needs to happen outside of the core organization. When working together new resources, processes and profit models need to be explored. Lead: Open innovation manager.


Hunting for new business is most effective when done disconnected from the core organization. Only key people from the organization should act as investment committee. Lead: Strategy officer. 

Innovation matrix

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