Written by: Ray Pedden

I often feel like I am wandering around a dark, smoke filled room banging painfully into every sharp bit of furniture as I try to find my way to the exit. Innovation is a lot like that: the path from where you are to where you want to get is a complex tangle, like a knot—or a maze.

I just read an article by Gijs van Wulfen that articulated this concept using a literal maze. To illustrate the different ways to get started on the “fuzzy front end” of the innovation process, van Wulfen created a maze that leads you from four start points through different obstacles to get to a single endpoint—a new business case for your innovation.

Check the article and the graphics out here.



The author helps clear the smoke by explaining ten essential activities to think about during this process:

10 essential activities to unfuzzy your front end:

  • Ideate: Generating and choosing original relevant ideas for a product, service, process or experience.
  • Focus: Defining your innovation center-of-interest including all the boundary conditions.
  • Check Fit: Checking if your idea, technology, customer issue or business challenge fits your personal and corporate priorities.
  • Create Conditions: Organizing the right moment, the right team, the right pace and the right funding for your innovation initiative.
  • Discover: Discovering trends, markets, technologies and customer insights.
  • Create Business Model: Creating a viable business model.
  • Select Technology: Identifying and selecting the right technology to deliver your new product, service, process or experience.
  • Check Freedom to Operate: Checking if you do not infringe intellectual property rights of others.
  • Experiment: Carrying out a systematic research or test which validates the adoption and attractiveness of your new product, service, process or experience.
  • Create New Business Case: Creating a well-founded convincing business case for your new product, service, process or experience.

Like the furniture in my darkened parlor, these elements of the innovation process are much easier to work through when you can see them.

I would be interested to hear if this graphic resonates with you in your world. Have you cleared the smoke from your furniture maze today?



Find this useful or interesting? We’re constantly sharing stuff like this. Sign up to receive our newsletter to stay in the loop.