Innovation Capabilities

In search of the ‘true North’

At MTI², we understand that your path to successful innovation can be challenging. This is why we work with an “innovation compass” to help you navigate your innovation journey. On this journey, we always choose the path that secures your ambition and business objective (your true North).

Our Innovation Compass

Our Innovation Compass covers four key areas (or “cardinal points”) in innovation:

  • North: We help you clarify your innovation purpose and set targets and KPIs aligned with your business objective.
  • South: We focus on the people by identifying the target ideators, designing workshops, and incentivizing ideators.
  • West: We clarify governance. At this stage, we help you keep the end goal in sight to reach a desirable outcome through forming the project team, defining timeline and milestones, setting selection criteria and organizing stakeholders.
  • East: We ensure you adopt the right methods. We offer tailored tools and templates to coach and activate ideators so they consistently work towards your innovation goals (“drumbeat”).

We have successfully applied this approach over the last two decades across the globe for leading firms in science, technology and engineering industries such as Aliaxis, Merck, Michelin, and SKF. To find out more about our expertise, please read our specific client cases.

These are the methods we master

Lean start-up started almost like a movement around Steve Blank and Eric Ries. The basic idea is to start a new business coming from innovation in as lean a way as possible. It advocates for principles such as early launch and experimentation, instead of careful and long-range strategic planning. We often study the case of LinkedIn, as it is one of the first mass applications of this concept, and explore the implications of this method for large incumbents as well by studying firms such as Michelin and P&G. We train you on the full lean start-up method, including tools and templates.

In our ideation training, we cover the fuzzy front end of innovation: we teach you a diversity of ideation methods (such as SIT, SCAMPER, design thinking, dark horsing, trend analysis, …), so you can apply the best of breed in your practice. Preferably, we let you practice the tools we teach in your firm’s context, effectively coming up with your ideas. You also get a workbook that steers participants forward in the ideation process. Typically we end the program with an idea pitch to senior management.

While it is also a key ingredient of lean start-up methodology when we teach assumption testing and validation of innovation, we consider it as one. Beyond lean start-up, we use our own TMRO framework and inception method. We provide you with an easily accessible roadmap, specifically for market validation. At the end of the program, we expect you to have a solid understanding of validation principles and how to get started.

This training explains the origin and tooling of design thinking, from early need sensing to validation and experimentation of innovation ideas. We combine the transfer of tools typically with a case study on IDEO or Philips. Ultimately, we prefer you to apply the method to your own firm’s context and flow through the design thinking process with an idea for your firm.

We help gather the voice of customers at different stages of an innovation’s development: this can be from gathering VOC to better understand customer needs to develop new solutions, to gathering VOC when launching a new innovation to optimize the go-to-market strategy. Bringing tooling and our decades-long expertise we support you in using the correct methodology, asking the right questions, and drawing the right insights.

Open innovation entails companies working with external experts or partnering with other companies to innovate. It has been shown to be a very successful model for innovation. Look at companies like P&G and IBM that thrive through their cooperation with others. We support companies to set up open innovation initiatives to work, for example, with other companies or academics. We provide tooling to help them ideate together and develop innovation collaboratively.

We are proud to be among the first proponents of grassroots innovation worldwide. Grassroots innovation refers to the process where all employees within a company, regardless of their rank, can ideate and develop innovations. Through grassroots innovation, we bring organic and sustainable growth to companies and build an entrepreneurial spirit. In such processes, we support companies in setting up the process (including branding, governance, setting KPIs, process flow, ...) and developing innovations (from domain choice to ideation, maturation, inception, experimentation, and market launch). We bring our 20 years of experience in deploying grassroots innovation processes, and provide, among others, inspirational cases, tooling for each step of the process, market research support, and coaching. Over the years, we have developed countless innovations, and across assignments brought innovations to the market worth billions of euros.

The stage-gate methodology comes from NASA’s ‘phased project planning’ and gained popularity in the late 20th century. Most companies use one form or another of a stage-gate. We help firms to develop or optimize their gates for innovation. For example, we work on which stages it should include, what to present in each stage, how to select, and who to involve.

Spiral innovation was first introduced as a model for software development and enhancement. The process consists of numerous rapid iterations of the stages from ideation to testing a prototype among customers (similar in nature to lean innovation). Each successive spiral proceeds at greater speed and lower costs. Through this methodology, we help customers identify risk areas and gather customer feedback on increasingly higher-fidelity prototypes. Over time we increase investment and lower risk toward market launch.

White horsing refers to the generation of more conventional solutions. Dark horsing refers to generating wilder solutions that may seem unfeasible but with a chance to be great. Originally used in horse racing and later popularized in politics, a dark horse refers to a candidate that seems unlikely to win but yet emerges victorious. In the dark horsing phase, we encourage ideators to produce bigger and bolder ideas and help them let go of constraints (e.g., go beyond their expertise, fight negativity, and not be afraid to say something crazy, etc.). We have repeatedly seen that pushing for wilder ideas and having a special ‘dark horsing’ time leads to more impactful innovations.

Systematic Inventive Thinking, developed by Jacob Goldenberg and colleagues, aims to structure the creative process and focuses on ‘inside the box’ thinking. The process starts by listing the attributes and components of existing products and understanding the market and moves then to developing improvements. We guide you through clear paths for improvement, called patterns (i.e., subtraction, multiplication, division, task unification, and attribute dependency). The key to SIT is its clear structure and path toward innovation.

SCAMPER is an acronym for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, and Reverse. Similar to SIT, by using SCAMPER, we want to provide structure to innovation and guide the creative process. We give participants inspirational examples of how each path has led to innovation, and through a series of questions we work together to develop new solutions.

Building a Bespoke Innovation Process for You: Our Way of Working

We are known for developing bespoke innovation processes across the globe for leading firms in science and technology industries, such as Aliaxis, Biotechne, GSK, Merck, Michelin, and SKF. To find out more about our expertise, read our specific client cases.

Designing such a process is not trivial for several reasons: (1) you typically need to onboard colleagues with diverse viewpoints and converge; (2) you typically have not thought about all the ins and outs (yet); (3) the process needs to be really tailored to your needs and context. Over two decades, we have developed a method to successfully build your bespoke innovation process in five simple steps: 

Step 1: Listen.

Tell us your innovation challenge, we will listen and connect what we hear with our experience of the last two decades. We want to know your initial sense for ambition, your context constraints and your target audience. 

Step 2: Inventory.

Over a series (not less than 2, not more than 4) of remote live workshops in Mural, we inventory these four pieces of your innovation puzzle: 

  • People: Who gets involved and how do we upskill and incentivize them?
  • Purpose: What is our ambition and how do we track our KPIs?
  • Method: What tools and templates do we use?
  • Governance: How do we select and steer in the right direction? 

Step 3: Design.

We design archetype innovation processes for you based on the input in step 2 and propose these to you in sufficient detail. You then indicate your personal favorite. 

Step 4: Develop.

We make an implementation plan that leverages what you already have in place and assign roles and responsibilities to everyone involved. It also includes the allocation of resources needed. 

Step 5: Implement.

We implement the process for you (if you told us: “Great, do it!”) or we internalize the implementation to your people (if you told us: “Thanks, we can take it from here!”). 

A Piece of The Puzzle: Solving a Specific Challenge in Your Innovation Journey

Of course, not everyone with an innovation need is thinking of developing or re-engineering a bespoke process. However, there may be situations where you will feel like you have figured out how to solve your innovation challenge on your own already, and are looking for a little bit of help just here and there. Don’t worry, we can help you with that too.

To give an example, maybe you feel like you don’t have the right templates for a fuzzy front end. Or, you feel like you are missing a training support step at a gate in your innovation process. Or, you seek advice on how to engage your people for innovation. Don’t hesitate to contact us, we consider this a great jamming session and enjoy doing it as we also learn a lot along the way!

To inspire you, we have outlined examples of assignments we have taken on with clients over the years. Our way of working is always to put your needs first and to tailor our help around your needs.

Acing Your Assignments: Samples of our Clients' Challenges

An R&D manager in a global steel wire leader

“Can we have a half-day meeting about the hurdles that come with global scaling of an innovation process in terms of cultural adaptation.”

An R&D leader for a leading vaccine company

“Can you introduce templates and tools that enable us to accelerate our time to market?”

The CTO of a leading life science firm

“Can you design and implement for us a global, entrepreneurial, grassroots, innovation process, that exploits opportunities below the surface and leverages synergies between different business units?”

A business development lead in an international conferences organization

“Can you explain jobs to be done as a framework across my entire company”

A CTO in a leading medical instrumentation company

“Can you develop an innovation approach to better monetize the assets our company has?”

The Incubator Office of a top 3 global tire manufacturer

“Can you develop and locally run an ideation process for us that is globally scalable to all our locations around the world to fill the pipeline of our incubator that we can in a second phase internalize and run ourselves?”

The CTO of a major construction company

“Can you architect and implement for us an innovation end-to-end process that generates big innovations with a minimum annual revenue potential of 10 million per innovation and multiple 100’s of millions across projects?”

A business development lead in an international conferences organization

“Can you set up and facilitate a process to help us innovate?”

A CTO in a leading medical instrumentation company

“Can you develop a template for a fuzzy front step in our stage gate process and introduce digital training to our support platform?”

Client stories on our Innovation Capabilities


Simulating a start-up mindset and fast-tracking innovative ideas with the Incubator program


Filling the pipeline for the new Incubator Office: Installing a systematic process to uncover, refine and implement innovation opportunities

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