The business world has gone through a drastic change in the past few years, boosted by the Covid-19 pandemic – a whole new world full of opportunities, changes, and challenges, especially innovation challenges. To be able to reach or to stay on top of the market one thing is key – groundbreaking and genuine innovation. The pressure to innovate has risen dramatically in the past 10 years. The term innovation itself is used in many ways, as a mantra, as working style, or simply as a marketing campaign. Bringing disruptive innovation to life has always been a challenge, but what exactly are the main hurdles you and your team must overcome to successfully innovate?

During the past 6 months, we were able to chat and interview influential innovation leaders from companies such as ROCHE, DB Schenker, Sony, LG Electronics, Siemens, Coca Cola, and many more. Obviously, every innovation team has different subjects and issues they are facing, but comparing the general conflict, each company has similar problems in the innovation space.

By being able to speak to these different innovation team members we concluded that the overall main “innovation blocker” is the so-called innovation culture, better said, the missing innovation culture.

Innovation Culture

When talking about innovation culture, we are talking about norms, values, ​​and attitudes, shaping the behavior of all employees, especially those who are involved in the innovation process. Since the innovation process is not limited to the core innovation team and this process is cross-sectional, the innovation culture as such can be described as a cross-dimensional culture.

Describing the key points of the culture is easier than establishing this value system. So,  when talking about innovation culture – what are the main challenges why innovation gets stuck? We defined four challenges:

(1) Top-down approach

Successful, groundbreaking innovation is determined by the ability of the team and their culture. To bring out the best you have to push and give room for these norms, values, and attitudes to grow and to become the standard. Therefore, Innovation is a CEO mandate. Only the CEO and their board can take the much-needed decision in time, capital, and structure.

“Innovation success is not about an idea creation team and taking it to market by the existing organization. Creating an innovation center independent of the corporate organization that is responsible for identifying a viable innovation opportunity and bringing it successfully to market can only be made by the C-Level.”

– Axel Schultze

(2) There is no time to innovate

In many cases, the cross-dimensional innovation team, from the CEO to the working student, is fully stuffed with finding new ways of improving current products or services. They are too busy to think of innovation in a way where opportunities are discovered, reviewed, developed, and validated. Unfortunately, innovation has even been outsourced quite a lot to universities or startups.

(3) Fail and fail fast

Obviously, the pressure to innovate and stay relevant in the market has risen in the past years. Managers tried different techniques, took closer looks at the startup world and how their management is innovative. This led to experimenting with playgrounds, where innovation team members are hunting for inspirations and the next big thing; pivoting, brainstorming, and massive prototyping. These newfound Innovation Hubs, which tend to go back and forth with ideas – prototyping, idea – prototyping, and so forth with every little long-term success. By changing the process into a more structured way, combining research and customer feedback before prototyping, the team is able to save a lot of time, money and is not limited to just “experiment”.

(4) The initial value of an idea is zero

Your idea or my idea?  We are living in a world where recognition for something is key. With this value in the back of your mind, people tend to keep ideas secret because they are scared that somebody is stealing their intellectual property. BUT in a successful and inspiring innovation culture, it should not matter who had the idea first.

“The innovation team must know that all ideas come from past experiences and are composed of millions of impressions, often co-produced by other people. […] Teammates should be rewarded for ideas but also equally rewarded for building new ideas based on previous ideas from other teammates or anybody else for that matter.”

– Axel Schultze

Groundbreaking innovation is not only about the original idea, it’s about what you and your team do with this idea. The value of the idea is created through relentless execution and open innovation by taking into consideration what your customer wants.

Despite these main challenges, genuine innovation can still be created with the right innovation culture and innovation mandate. Rethink innovation from the ground up and discover why innovation is a CEO mandate in our latest whitepaper, “Innovation is a CEO Mandate.”

Authored by: Anna Ranke


The Innovation Master Plan, a blueprint for innovation success. 

After building four innovative businesses, two growing into the billion Dollar revenue range and later helping several hundred startups to become innovative; we decided to create this Innovation Master Plan as a blueprint for innovation success.

The foundation of this Innovation Master Plan is the Deep Innovation Design method. The method is highly influenced by neuroscience, how our brain composes ideas. Creativity and innovation are done laterally in our brains. Lateral thinking and lateral processes are becoming of strategic importance in empowering teams to create the disruptive concepts, businesses need to stay competitive.

The full details and additional insights can be downloaded as a Whitepaper.

(1) Pillars of Innovation

When having a chance to learn from neuroscience how ideas get created in our brain and extrapolate the impact of that learning, we also see several aspects of innovation like purpose to innovate, the time and finance to innovate as well as the overall outcome in a very different light. Also, the entire innovation process can be seen in a very different light and the necessity for a stringent process is rising. The least used but biggest power of our brain is lateral thinking. When putting the key learnings together, the pillars of innovation become an important part of innovative thinking.

(2) Preparation for Innovation

When preparing for innovation there are several key components to take into consideration, starting with an Innovation Readiness Check. By completing a simple checklist you can determine if your top executives are on board, understand your current access to customers, and grasp your readiness to create groundbreaking innovations.

Leadership buy-in is key to your success. Genuine Innovation is a long-term engagement. It usually takes less than six months to create an innovative solution, but on average 5 to 10 years to be recognized as an innovation in the market. Innovation is a CEO mandate. Without a dedicated innovation strategy that comes from the very top of an organization, no innovation is realistically possible.

Next, craft an innovation mandate and an innovation strategy. An Innovation Mandate is similar to a declaration, mission statement, or manifesto. It is therefore not just the wish to be more innovative but building an entirely new operation within the company that may be able to compete and disrupt an existing business for the benefit of the market and the benefit of staying highly competitive. Once the executive team agrees on becoming an innovative business an innovation strategy needs to be crafted. Such a strategy is not focused on a certain innovation target, product, audience, or technology but the strategic position of the company, the fact that innovation is not a single event but a continuum, and what value the company sees in innovating.

Finally, assemble an innovation dream team and establish an innovation culture. Every business starts with a team. Our research and our own experience have shown that a highly diverse team will always beat a team of specialists. Make very clear what the goal and objectives are. The team must know the magnitude of that venture and make sure there are unique rewards for the team. Intelligent people argue with logic and facts, not ego and self-interest. The smartest people don’t work for money but for self-fulfillment. Have a base innovation culture statement ready before you attract talents. Then shape it together with the team you hire.

Innovation is the duality of brilliant ideation and relentless execution.

(3) Innovation Life Cycle

An innovation effort is a long-term engagement that deserves thorough planning. None of the highly innovative disruptors has hit the billion-dollar mark within just a year or two. The complete innovation life cycle is best described with an innovation journey map. That map shows the very origin or starting point of an innovation effort and all the major episodes of the innovation life cycle, all the way to global market acceptance. Even the greatest idea ever is no innovation unless it is recognized as such in the designated market. Like every journey, innovation has a destination. However, in our case, the destination is “Innovation Continuum”.

To help navigate the journey, BlueCallom created a methodical approach that starts at a point where a team may have no idea where to start, includes getting market feedback, from that point creates an innovative concept. From there the concept gets verified in the market and with positive feedback, it is much easier to finance. Then we are building prototypes that we call MVPs (Minimum viable Products) and bring those to market. After the market introduction, we spend a lot of effort in scaling the innovative business and go global. We purposefully do not go step-by-step through that journey but work in episodes and may jump back to an episode as needed. It’s part of the lateral thinking process. This is why the Innovation Journey map is not a linear path from one activity to the next but allows the freedom to go back and forth.

Putting the Innovation Master Plan to work

To implement a successful innovation master plan be PREPARED:

  1. Complete an Innovation Readiness Assessment
  2. Get the buy-in from the CEO
  3. Develop an innovation strategy
  4. Assemble your Innovation Dream

Finally, EXECUTE the entire Innovation Life Cycle. Start with the Innovation Opportunity Discovery all the way to bringing the innovation to market. There are many good reasons why the conventional sales and marketing teams cannot successfully bring disruptive innovation to market while working on the conventional and main solution offering.

Time is money – literally, execute relentlessly and focus on a 1% growth rate per day, creating exponential growth.

To download the complete whitepaper, please visit here.


Innovation opportunity for enterprises. What worked for startups can now also work for enterprises. Even the innovation process would be the same. And purpose and reasoning should be the same too. The only difference is the leadership structure. And that requires a new understanding of what actually makes the difference between the two company types today.

No – it has nothing to do with size or capital, And yes both are driven by human beings.

Over the past four years, we learned so much about the difference between innovation in corporations and in startups that we today realize: Enterprises had not even a chance to be innovative even when acquiring a startup.  The full details can be downloaded as a Whitepaper

When thinking of innovation it is most helpful to understand how homo sapiens is performing the creation of innovative ideas. Without knowing how innovation is done, it is hard to manage the process and innovation remains to be a process. The key learning is that ideas are composed by our neurons from past experiences. There is no mechanism that just “creates” ideas.

Without exception, the most innovative solutions were created in an attempt to solve a problem. Random experimentation and hoping to find a great idea never led to groundbreaking innovation. Innovation is an outcome – it cannot be a desire.

When we know how innovation is created, we can request certain results, request to provide insights, and measure and manage the effort. Most importantly executives know what they are asking, even where and what to innovate.

When you know the “what and how”, you can make sure that your business is ready to innovate in the first place and prevent unnecessary costs and delays.

After all – innovation management can be performed like most other mission-critical activities, teams can be selected in accordance with the requirements and tasks and results become predictable and timely.

Successful innovations consumed more than $100 Million in funding, some reached into two-digit billion-dollar investments. Obviously, this is done in stages and in line with progress, KPIs, and timelines. Comparing it with a $500,000 startup would be a huge mistake because that was only their starting point.

Obviously, you can catch up with the market to survive. But the financial market will recognize it accordingly. A follower will not beat the innovator – not on the market cap.

Innovation is one of the intellectually most demanding jobs. Not only does it take 100% focus, it also requires relentless execution and the motive to do so. The Innovation Culture, team selection, and motivations are the ultimate driver of successful innovation.

The BlueCallom Deep Innovation Design method was modeled and shaped based on all the findings from our research and our own experiences, building 4 innovative businesses and helping hundreds of startups to get there too.

Whitepaper Download here.