Innovation Patterns

Lean - Agile - Innovation

What are they?

We discovered several patterns of innovation that occur frequently in the search for new business models. Each pattern highlights a different route on the solution canvas and represents a systematic way in which organizations try to tackle innovation.

non-linear path

We typically visualize this journey as a linear process consisting of 3 consecutive phases (e.g. problem-fit, solution-fit, market-fit). See for example the PACE method or Innovation Roadmap used by ING and Rabobank. However innovation follows a non-linear patterns across social, technical and economical domains. Most organizations do not progress through these stages in a step-wise manner and allocate resources to innovation to achieve various types of fit at different phases of the product life-cycle.

non-linear path

Which patterns?

Different patterns represent general strategies to commonly occurring innovation problems within a given context. We have categorized these innovation journeys in the table below. Click on each journey to learn more.





the customer pattern the technology pattern the market pattern the solution canvas


Companies that validate the problem with customers prior to any development.

These companies strictly adhere to the lean startup methodology.

the customer pattern


Companies that start development before validation is completed.

  • E.g. We cannot talk to customers before we have something to show.
  • E.g. Customers don’t know what they want (until you show them).
the technology pattern


Companies that only develop a solution once the price/and or demand for a good or service is known with some acceptable level of uncertainty.

  • E.g. We invest in R&D when the prices are above a certain minimmum (renewable energy versus oil price).
the market pattern


Companies that develop a solution to acquire data more effectively than competitors to develop products or services at some future date.

  • E.g. discover hidden relationships in the data and applying analytics
  • E.g. everyone in the organization makes better decisions by using more and better data
the data pattern

Frequent challenges

Here are some of the frequent challenges encountered with different innovation journeys.

If innovation is only seen as ... the result can be
Customer-driven Lack of technical progress leading to the inability to gain a competitive advantage.
Technology-driven Producing products or services which fail to meet user needs and whose implementation may be resisted.
Market-driven Lack of creative problem-solving and failing to learn from advanced users and match new technologies to user needs.

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