Innovation framework
Last modified on Fri 15 Dec 2023

Digital products are similar to caterpillars, they need to eat a lot (of mental energy) to be transformed into something else. While caterpillars go from yucky to beautiful, digital products go from “just an idea” to “launched on production”. Same difference, if you ask us.

The innovation framework is our way of visualizing that process. It’s more of a communication vehicle than something set in stone. It does ensure you get optimal results, but you’re free to tailor the approach to a specific client. As long as you're able to confirm a product passes innovation framework gates, you’re all good.

Gates? Yes, there are some claims about the product you need to validate. This is not just a philosophical exercise, it’s how valuable and profitable digital products are launched. By validating that product passes a specific gate, you’re ready to deploy a new set of exercises and activities to provide value to the client in the next stage.

These gates are no-brainers – they ensure that the idea can make money for the client, meet user/customer needs, and can actually be done using today’s technology. We’re not SpaceX, clients expect to see something in the AppStore within a few months.


Now we’ll dive a bit deeper into each of the gates and why we set them in this specific way.

Gate 1: Idea is business viable

This involves identifying an opportunity and shaping it into more of a business case than a digital product. We need to think about how this idea would provide value for the client.

There are three general ways it could do that:

Our focus is on the business viability of the idea. If the workshop team can’t devise a way to monetize this idea, there’s no point in pursuing it any further. To pass this gate, we’ll do some light touch desktop research and use business and product frameworks to put the idea to paper. This ensures we capture all the risky assumptions and can review and discuss those.

Gate 2: There’s market demand for the idea/solution

Instead of jumping straight to the design sprint, we’ll first validate if the solution has some legs with our target audience. Although an idea might look great business-wise, if no one has the user problem we’re trying to solve, it’ll all come to nothing.

By testing solutions explained in a few slides and sticky notes, we avoid the high prototyping costs while still learning more about our target audience and validating the value proposition.

Think of it this way: instead of designing the Uber app, we start by asking people what annoys them the most when visiting a city as a tourist. If they say it’s public transport and being ripped off by the cab drivers, we’re golden.

Gate 3: Product resonates with the target audience

Once the solution has been validated, it’s time to raise the fidelity of our idea. Now we’ll test if our specific solution to that problem, i.e., the digital product, resonates with the target audience.

The solution might be appealing, but it might need some tweaks, even a slight pivot in the value proposition. This is all much easier done before we start with agile sprints, and there’s no design or tech debt.

We’re trying to design and test the product with the target audience quickly. This higher fidelity of the idea ensures we’re getting the USP right and we’re ready to start planning the implementation of the product.

Gate 4: Such a product can be designed and developed

You passed all three previous gates: the product makes sense business-wise, there’s market demand, and our product seems to address that demand. We “just” need to define how we will bring it to market. It’s no longer “why” and “if”, but “how” and “what”.

We must create an activities roadmap that’s feasible tech- and operations-wise. Tech needs to be able to support such a value proposition, and both clients and our teams need to be able to execute that product vision.