Innovation Lab Canvas – a method to design and evaluate corporate innovation labs

Manfred Tropper

In my Job as the CEO of a company which claims to develop and deliver digital innovation, I regularly speak at conferences about the processes of innovation. One question that comes up quite often is about successful paths of innovation. Especially in corporates and big organizations innovation is often pursued in so called ‘innovation labs’. At mantro we have successfully established innovation labs for several of our customers in the past and helped out if labs went into the wrong direction.

We do this by giving the innovation lab its own operation model, just like every company has a business model. Thus, we have developed a canvas to design and evaluate innovation labs. It has proven its means in our innovation labs and also company builders, that we set up for and with our customers like EnBW or Media-Saturn.

The model describes the five major aspects for the design and evaluation of an innovation lab inside a corporate or big organization. These five aspects are:

  1. Objective of the lab.
  2. Input for the lab to reach the objective.
  3. Market reach of the lab.
  4. Financial assessment of the lab.
  5. Ownership of the innovation lab.

We want to share this method. Please find a print version of the canvas here.

It’s licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

1. Objective of the Innovation Lab

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Value Proposition

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Which (measurable) value does the lab provide for the organization? This section describe the reason why the innovation lab is implemented. Is the lab supposed to develop new innovative technologies that broaden the focus of the organization? Is the objective to develop new products that generate new streams of revenue? It is important for a lab to have these clear objectives to focus on the delivery of this value.

Output Product Maturity

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What maturity level do products and business models achieve in this lab? This section describes the maturity of the innovation that is developed within the lab. There are five stages within innovation development. Ideation, Validation, Incubation, Nurture and Scaling. All these stages are vital to the success of a product. Though it can make sense to leave parts of this process uncovered by the innovation lab when other entities in the organization are more suitable to do the job.

2. Input for the Innovation Lab

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Key Services

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Which services are provided for the lab’s participants to achieve the aspired maturity level? In this section, it is described how exactly the innovation lab supports its participants. Types of service can include monetary support, technological know-how, market experience, methodological guidance through the process of innovation and the provision of infrastructure.

Key Resources

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Which (internal) resources are provided by the lab to achieve the target maturity level? What competences are provided internally? Key resources are one of two streams that are needed to realize the key services described above. Different types of resources can be budget but also a team of entrepreneurs in residence, researchers, engineers, market experts or experienced product managers of already successful innovative products.

Key Partners

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Which (external) partners are assisting the lab to achieve the target maturity level? What competences are provided externally? Partners are the second source to fulfil services in the innovation lab. These partners can be agencies (such as design or software development agencies), mentors, customer experience experts and successful entrepreneurs as operational consultants.

 

3. Market reach of the Innovation Lab

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Channels

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Through which channels does the lab reach potential participants? Every lab is only as good as it participants, so it has to work hard to find the right people. What are the communication channels, how does the lab get in contact with potential participants and in which region does the lab search for participants.

Innovation Sources

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What kind of people or teams are the target participants for the lab? Who does the innovation lab want to address as participants? Target groups can be internal employees or teams just as external teams that have been operating independently so far.

Cultural Impact

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What cultural impact does the lab (want to) have? How is this cultural impact measured and sustained? Every lab has an overall mission and vision that is described here. It must be described how the lab is able to and enabled by the organization to fulfil its mission and reach the described cultural impact.

 

4. Financial Assessment of the Innovation Lab

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Success KPIs

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Which KPIs define the success of the lab? How are they measured? What is the current value of the KPI? The KPIs describe how the delivery of the lab’s value proposition is measured. Graduating teams, applications, created business value after five years, number of created prototypes or the amount of funding teams received after the program can be KPIs.

Cost Structure

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What is the cost structure of the lab? For what does the lab spend how much money? The cost structure describes the total budget of the innovation lab and what it is needed for. What are the spendings for marketing, media and design agencies, infrastructure, technology development, mentors and trainers and which goal shall they achieve.

 

5. Ownership of the Innovation Lab

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Supervising Business Unit

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Which business unit does the lab belong to? The supervising business unit is the manager of the innovation lab and controls it strategically. It is important to clearly outline who is responsible for the innovation labs’ success and is the main contact person regarding the innovation labs’ activities.

Sponsor

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Which person is the sponsor for the lab? Who provides the budget for the lab? The sponsor, different from the supervisor, is providing the budget for the innovation lab. This has not to be same entity. The sponsor assesses the success of the innovation lab and decides over the provision of budget to the innovation lab.