2017-11-17

FORTH Innovation Expedition

“Managers say yes to innovation only if doing nothing is a bigger risk.” -Gijs van Wulfen

In incumbent organizations innovation projects often face hurdles and roadblocks. A corporate culture focused on process and operations excellence often doesn’t give enough space for innovative projects. brainstormings are held, without following up the created ideas. Ideation portals become graveyards for brilliant ideas. Development projects fail because important customer needs were uncovered at the beginning. FORTH is a proven and effective innovation methodology to structure the fuzzy end of the innovation pipeline. In a fixed period of 20 weeks, at a fixed price an internal team creates 3-5 new R&D business cases for innovative product and service offers or even new business models.

Alexander Madl facilitates FORTH Innovation Expedition for Chemical Industry

Start the FORTH Innovation Expedition in Chemical Industry

FORTH really delivers measurable results because:

  • All relevant stakeholders are included right from the beginning, which creates maximum internal support
  • Customers are closely connected to the process
  • The created ideas go through a concept development and test process that lead directly to new business cases

Target group

The FORTH Innovation Expedition is designed for organizations who want to make a massive change in their approach towards ideation and R&D business case development. Technology managers and R&D directors in chemical industrie can use FORTH to get a proven, structured approach to the ideation phase of the innovation process and to change the quantity and quality of ideas as well as the developed concepts.

Value created

  • With FORTH a defined number of 4 – 6 R&D business cases gets developed over a defined time frame (15 – 20 weeks), with an internal team at a defined cost
  • Existing and potential new customers get involved into the process which ensures much higher relevance of the resulting R&D business cases
  • The FORTH expedition fits into the internally applied New Product Development process, by structuring the fuzzy end of ideation and concept development
  • The FORTH innovation expedition also strengthens the motivation, commitment and cohesion of the team

The FORTH innovation expedition does not include technical or strategic consulting on the content of the innovation assignment. The facilitator is responsible to guide the internal innovation team through the stages of the expeditions and ensures to lead them to extraordinary results.

The FORTH Expedition

Alexander Madl FORTH Innovation Consulting for Chemical Industry

Gijs van Wulfen: The Innovation Expedition

FORTH is an inspiring and structured method that takes a dedicated internal team on an innovation expedition over 15 weeks, to evaluate customer frictions, trends and technologies to raise over 500 ideas. Out of these, 3 – 5 R&D business cases are worked out, that can be transferred to development right away into development and lead to successful products or services with much higher probability than conventional methods.

I’m a certified FORTH facilitator and draw from 12 years of experience in chemistry R&D. The FORTH innovation expedition was developed by Gijs van Wulfen, an innovation expert, LinkedIN influencer and author of the best seller “The innovation expedition“. The expedition takes 15 – 20 weeks and consists of five phases.

Alexander Madl provides FORTH Innovation Consulting for Chemical Industry

FORTH Innovation Expedition

Phase 1: Full steam ahead

In this phase the direction and scope of the innovation assignment gets defined. Stakeholders are taken on board and the core and extended innovation team members are assigned. Also, the team gets together first time and the innovation topics and exploration fields get defined. At the end of phase one the team members and stakeholders have a clear shared vision on the innovation assignment and the general themes and topics to explore. The team is set to sail. Full steam ahead!


Phase 2: Explore and learn

This phase is for exploration and inspiration. The team members research trends and meet existing or potential new customers to learn about their needs as well as the frictions they experience in their business. This phase is for listening and emphatizing – not yet to provide solutions. External experts might need to get consulted or field research has to be done. At the end of phase two the team consolidates the results to gain a shared view on real customer needs and frictions. During their exposure to the customer’s world, they got filled up with inspirations and creative ideas.


Phase 3: Raise ideas

In this phase, ideas are created and out of them concepts are developed. Actually, it begins with an” idea dump”. All team members are already burning to put all that ideas they got in the field out on the wall. But this is not the end. Specific ideation techniques are applied to dive deeper into the creative space. At the end more then 500, often up to 1000 ideas will be raised. Now the critical phase starts: the ideas need to get evaluated, clustered, and compressed to develop idea directions, mind maps and finally about 45 initial concepts. These get further improved. At the end of phase three, the team finally evaluates the initial concepts and chooses 10 – 15 improved concepts to further work on.


Phase 4: Test ideas

Now the journey goes back to the customers to test the concepts. Do the customers feel understood in their needs and frictions? How do they evaluate the concepts? Based on the feedback directly from the customers the best concept gets selected and further refined. In this refinery, now also technical and economical feasibility are considered. At the end of phase four, 4 – 6 concepts are selected to get further worked out in the next phase.


Phase 5: Homecoming

In this phase the innovation team returns from their expedition: with 4 – 6 tested and refined concepts that need to be implemented into the corporate development process. At first, the concepts get further detailed and transformed into R&D business cases. Financials, technical feasibility, estimated development cost, intellectual property, competition, safety and environment – the usual suspects get covered here according to the internal rules and procedures. At the end, the R&D business cases are presented by the team to the senior management. The decision can be taken right away: how many and which one will get the GO into development?

At the very end of phase five – and also the end of the innovation expedition – the team transfers not only the business cases to development, but also the learning into the organization.


For more information or for an appointment to introduce FORTH in more detail: give me a call or contact me per mail.