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A true end-to-end innovation process

The 4-diamond innovation model and process provides a template canvas with interlinked innovation methods fitting operational needs and ISO 56000 compliance.

In this blog entry we describe the 4-diamond innovation model and process that provides a generic template for most corporate setups. Being broken down into 4 major areas it can be easily extended with specific methodologies and linked according to a company’s organisation and operation model.

Connecting strategy and execution

Working with corporate innovators requires constant switching of abstraction levels. While strategy must be driving innovation by providing direction, position and resource allocation it often lacks crucial feedback from the development and execution stages.

In many projects the design thinking methodology connects the discovery and development stages in the well-known “double diamond” model. Teams start recognizing that they must innovate differently in a problem-oriented and solution-oriented style. This alone is a huge task in practice, requires interdisciplinary efforts and works differently across industries. For instance, the software industry is usually quick to interface the discovery diamond to their development processes that are mostly changed to agile and iterative.

For an end-to-end model, a strategy-link in classical design thinking is required. While this can be done “manually” many elements are shared on a regular basis, for example the definition of strategic initiatives and the feedback from market research and experiments.

Finally, feedback from the customer success side (aka sales, support & service) needs to be connected too. Depending on the industry, in a high-frequency manner (e.g. FMCG).

The final outcome is the 4-diamond innovation model. The respective process, however, needs to accommodate for links between non-neighbouring areas, which will be explained in the next section.

The 4-diamond innovation model.

Interconnecting the 4-diamond innovation model

As a waterfall-style sequence of iterative process-islands, the model above would fall short of interaction and agility in any enterprise.

Below chart regroups the 4 diamonds and defines outbound interactions and inbound dependencies as follows:

  1. Strategy
    1. provides guidance and focus in both customer success and discovery areas
    2. Often, top-level strategy as well as executive management is detached from technology strategy which may intentionally bypasses the discovery area (see disruptive innovation and horizon thinking)
  2. Customer Success
    1. Provide early and crucial feedback on market and customer sentiment
    2. Initiate improvements regarding new use, based on customer feedback and observation
    3. Continuous improvements regarding user experience (UX) of products, services and the buying process
  3. Discovery
    1. Competitive insights at strategic levels
    2. Definition and execution of market experiments (may use or not customer success resources)
    3. Classical definition (market requirements) and launch of product development projects
  4. Development
    1. Technology trends, scouting and competitive metrics for all other areas
    2. Customer-centric tracking of installation, quality, stability, handling, maintenance and documentation of all products

Extensions with specific innovation methods

In order to keep the model generic and make it suitable for a variety of business models, e.g. platform, ecosystem, community/non-profit, all areas are split into a canvas with seperate boards, lists, cards and dashboards based on preferred methods such as

  • Balanced scorecard (BSC)
  • Lean canvas
  • Digital platform canvas
  • Value Proposition canvas

as well as simple lists of vision/mission elements, strategic initatives etc.

Furthermore, some of the elements, most prominently idea collections and idea clusters, are linked across the areas and filtered according to projects and phase, products, and horizons. For example, continuous improvement is an integral part of idea management.

The 4-diamonds innovation canvas is transforming the model into a process.

ISO 56000: The 8 Innovation Principles

As defined in ISO 56002 all principles are covered by the 4-diamond innovation model:

  1. Realization of value
  2. Future-focused leadership
  3. Strategic direction and strategic initiative
  4. Innovation culture
  5. Exploiting insights
  6. Managing uncertainty
  7. Adaptibility and agility, agile response to change
  8. Overall systems approach (systems and process with focus on time scales)

Organizing and digitizing the process

The innovation model described here has been experienced and tested in industries such as

  • medtec
  • manufacturing firms for consumer goods
  • fintech accelerators targeting platform economies
  • pharmaceuticals

Innovation board

Next to adaptibility of the model the most important learning was that a process around a top-management-level “innovation board” needs to be run and “services” by experienced professionals. In order to keep the innovation board lean, the canvas model with its dependencies serves to aggregate outcomes from discovery, experiments and development.


Managing and end-to-end model/process with tools needs the integration of such elements covering strategy canvases, ideation boards, 2×2 matrices, metrics and other dashboards to keep up with pace and complexity. To get more insights on innovation software, get in touch with us!


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