Front End of Innovation: Interview with Christian Rangen, Partner Engage // Innovate

Interview with Christian Rangen, Partner , Engage // Innovate, Founder, Strategy Tools for the Next Generation and speaker at FEI EMEA 2013.

So to start us off, can you tell us a bit about yourself and a bit about Engage // Innovate?

Elisabeth Ovstebo and I founded Engage // Innovate in 2011 on the idea of helping companies make innovation happen. Ours was a very wide definition of innovation. A perspective we developed while spending time at Copenhagen Business School in 2010. We had both seen – through consulting work and management roles – how poor leadership stifle or kill the strategic creativity in most firms. Companies are usually great at on-going operations. But very, very poor at strategic innovation. There are many reasons for this. Management education is one. Budget allocations a second. Recruiting and developing a third and overall corporate management systems a fourth. Most firms are simply built for business as usual. But the day in age we live in, business is anything but usual. The monster waves of globalization and digitalization is crashing down all around us, causing protective national borders to vanish, causing business models to blow up, and turning stable industries upside down. In short, change is changing and creative destruction is only speeding up. Since 1995 we have known this as the consequences of disruptive innovations. Our research shows that there are three sets of disruptions; already happened, on-going and coming soon.

One: industries that are already disrupted. Classic examples here are the music industry, travel agents, books, software, airline industry, mobile phone industry and more.

Two: what we call on-going disruptions. This is the numerous disruptions happening right now. Among these we find: grocery shopping, retail banking, recruiting industry, Television industry and the marketing industry, to name a few.

Third: the coming soon disruptions. These are industries where we are seeing the early signs of significant disruption over the coming 10+ years. These include education, health care, car industry, oil and gas, house construction and many more. These industries all have a common trait: the need for strategic innovation. A need for radical, creative shift in the industry paradigm. Now, the problem is few people know how to do this. How do you create strategic innovation?

How do you use disruptions to your advantage How do you spark a series of highly creative
strategies that shift the industry norm? How do you? This is hardly taught in business schools –
we know, we teach there. Few of today’s management teams are equipped for strategic
innovation – we know, we have led consulting projects since 2002. Fact is, few managers and
executives know how to drive strategic innovation in established firms. In our view, this is a
huge problem.

So, we have set forth to create our next big thing. We call this Strategy Tools for the Next
We believe, most of today’s strategy tools are insufficient to explain many of our times most successful companies. The next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, risk takers and pirates need new visual tools to master strategic innovation. They need new tools to make strategic innovation happen.

But we are not alone. A global network of management innovators, business model thinker and
innovation heroes are pushing the limits of strategic thinking and creating the future. Our
aspirations are to gather, create and organize the strategy, innovation and management tools for
the next generation of entrepreneurs, risk takers and pirates. We want to build the toolkit today to
help the leaders of tomorrow create the future – starting today.
That’s what drives Elisabeth and me in our effort to make innovation happen. Today we are
established in Norway and Brazil. More than 70 firms have started using these tools, and we’re
looking at a steep growth rate for 2013. Next, we aim to run an increasing number of
international workshops during 2013 and 2014.

You’ll be running a workshop on Sparking Strategic Innovation at Front End of
Innovation EMEA 2013 – what can attendees look forward to if they join your workshop?
Visual tools. Specific tools for strategic innovation. This will be a very hands-in, idea driven workshop. The key take-away will be tools. Participants will learn to master new tools for strategic innovation.

Our workshop will help people connect strategy and innovation and create more innovative strategies. Through our research and teaching we have developed or identified 32 strategy, innovation and management tools. Tools for the future. People will learn these tools through a series of case studies. But most of all, use, start using these tools on their own company’s strategic challenges You will learn how to apply these visual strategy and innovation tools to your ongoing innovation challenges. The session will combine emerging theories, case studies and new innovation tools into a highly interactive workshop.

So, please, join us to master new tools to kick-start your own innovation journey and get your personal action toolkit for making innovation happen in your business

What is it that first got you interested in innovation strategy? And what keeps you inspired?

While Elisabeth and I come from different backgrounds, we deeply believe in engagement and innovation. We believe that if you bring together the right mix of people, engage them and give them big challenges and big ambitions, magic will happen.
But very few companies do this. Most firms create a closed information hierarchy. They don’t let people use more than a fraction of their potential and they certainly don’t let people innovate wildly to create a better future. Now, bring these issues into strategy, and strategic thinking very often comes nothing more than a repetition of the past, + 3 %. We’ve seen this happen over and over again.
When we look at the massive waves of globalization and digitalization that will continue to pound established firms over the next 20+ years, we know they need a different mindset, different tools and well, for many, a very different innovation strategy to not only survive, but to grow and prosper. Leading thinkers around the world are working on this. Inspiring thinkers. Gary Hamel and the MIX, Verna Allee, Scott D. Anthony and his team at Innosight, Clayton M. Christensen, Alexander Osterwalder, Stefan Lindegaard to name a few. Their work, their stories and their successful impact inspire us to aim higher and bigger for our clients and our students.

Lastly: based on your own experience, or what you have heard: what one piece of advice would you give to someone who is just starting their company out with an innovation program or project?

We’d like to offer three advices.
Number one, bring tons of passion. This energy will carry you through the numerous obstacles you’ll meet in driving innovation in established cultures. Anthony’s recent HBR articles, “the New Corporate Garage” is a great example of this (HBR; September 2012)
Number two; learn the Innovation Thinking Modes. This visual tool, available on our website, shows the different mindsets you’ll encounter in your innovation work. For all our projects and teaching, this is THE starting point.
Number three; master new tools for strategic innovation. Tools like SWOT, PESTEL and Five-Forces will not help you create wildly successfully innovations. For this you need new tools. The Business Model Canvas (Osterwalder and Pigneur) is fantastic. We’ve developed The Strategic Innovation Canvas, The Innovation Pyramid and The Action Road Map. In our experience, master these, and you are well on your way to make innovation happen.
Feel free to download all these tools at
To learn more, join Christian Rangen and Elisabeth Ovstebo for a half-day workshop at FEI EMEA 2013.

Originally published at Front End of Innovation Blog 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s