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 


Back in our Brazilian office. Launching in Portuguese


Sparking Strategic Innovation @ Front End of Innovation 2013

Front end of Innovation: one of Europe’s premier innovation events. In 2012 the event brought together over 300 global innovators in Zurich. Google, 3M, Starbucks, BMW, P&G Nestle’s Nespresso designers and Alberto Alessi were among the great storytellers.

Front end of Innovation 2013 takes place in Copenhagen. And this time Engage // Innovate is taking part.

We are delighted to run a half day workshop on Sparking Strategic Innovation. This is a fantastic chance to share our work around Strategy Tools for the Next Generation in the global innovation community.

Workshop: Sparking Strategic Innovation
Powerful, Hands-On Learning * Master New, Visual Innovation Tools
Led by Christian Rangen and Elisabeth Ovstebo

Learn how you can…

  • Connect strategy and innovation
  • Teach yourself to think outside the box and dream bigger
  • introduce more Pirate thinking into your organization
  • Help create more innovative strategies
  • Master new tools for strategic innovation

We need new strategy tools for the future. 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 tools to master strategic innovation. They need new tools to make strategic innovation happen. Through our research and teaching we have developed or selected 32 strategy, innovation and management tools. Tools for the future. Join our work at 

In this interactive workshop we will help you master:

This hands-on, idea-driven workshop will provide you with emerging tools for strategic innovation. You will learn how to apply these to your ongoing innovation challenges.

Come experience some of the latest thinking and new tools for strategic innovation. The session will combine emerging theories, case studies and new innovation tools into a highly interactive workshop.

  • Key take aways:
  •  Learn to te:think your mental models for making innovation happen
  •  Master new tools to kick-start your own innovation journey
  •  Get your personal action toolkit for making innovation happen in your business
  •  Receive a free copy of “Dream Bigger: your personal innovation sketchbook
  • Receive a special preview of the upcoming book “Strategy Tools for the Next Generation: strategy, innovation and management tools for the next generation of entrepreneurs, risk takers and pirates”.


Christian Rangen and Elisabeth Ovstebo are authors, consultants, entrepreneurs and lecturers. As founders of Engage // Innovate, they help companies make innovation happen. Working with leaders on all levels, they combine leadership, strategy, change management and innovation to create new business models, new business areas and more innovative organizations. Their moon landing is developing Strategy Tools for the Next Generation.

Join us in Copenhagen? 

We are bringing a handful of business partners and clients to this amazing innovation events. We’ll design a powerful learning experience that aims to bring powerful new ideas from the frontiers of innovation thinking in Copenhagen into your organization. Are you curious? Are you ready to boost your innovation? Contact us to learn more about this powerful learning experience of FEI2013.

Front end of Innovation 2013 
Learn more here.

“If you don’t invest in the future, there isn’t going to be one”
– Sir George Buckley, Former President and CEO, 3M and keynote speaker at Front End of Innovation 2012


Getting your innovation training right

Innovation training. Few companies do it. Most should. In fact, we believe innovation training is a core capability lacking in virtually every firm we meet. Innovation should be an embedded core competence in virtually every modern firm. Most often, it is not.

Today we work with a growing number of companies to help them develop innovation strategies, innovation capabilities and create more innovative organizations. Through the prism of strategic innovation, an increasing number of executives come to realize that their focus on current, on-going operations have taken too much time and attention over “creating the future”. “Strategy” has become staid, repetitive one-year action plans. Slowly, gradually, many executive teams unbeknowingly slide into a year-after-year repetition of the past.

Enter, strategic innovation. In an increasing number of firms we meet, we are now seeing firms scale of their strategic ambitions, their strategic creativity and their strategic and organizational capability. For many, innovation training is one core method of building their new future. Rather than relying on consultants alone, the firms wants to build their innovation skills in-house. “As innovation becomes an important skill set, large organizations will seek to obtain training for their employees” , says Jeffrey Phillips.

Now, few HR departments have much experience with innovation training programs. Phillips’ article “How to Assess an Innovation Training Program” is an excellent piece of advice. Phillips, a long-time advisor and consultant on innovation has written a timely and well-argued blog article.

For any company or team looking to start their innovation training, this is well worth the read. “We stand on the brink of an innovation training “land rush” with few rules and little information to identify the best programs. Evaluating an innovation training program is critical. Assess programs based on their depth, the experience of the trainers, the referenced body of knowledge and the inclusion of practical examples and hands-on exercises. Ignore certifications, because no standard exists», says Phillips.

Read the article here

Gallery gets innovation

Statoil ASA and Snøhetta Design are listed as Norway’s two most innovative companies*Now, is aiming to top both of them for the title of “one of the world’s most innovative companies”. has a long history of innovation. The company was founded on the very idea of disruptive innovation itself. The idea that the newspaper industry was facing a significant disruption in the market for ads. While the realization hit management back in 1996, it was not until the year 2000 today’s business model was launched.  Resistance to launching what came to be called was originally stiff, as it would cannibalize an existing cash cow for many of Norway’s leading newspapers. According to sources close to the process, “ just barely made it past the decisionmakers ”. Yet, as Clayton Christensen frequently says, “If you don’t have to courage to disrupt yourself, somebody else will”.

In Christensen’s “The Innovator’s Solution, he recommend “that organizations develop internal innovation programs, which operate independently within the organization for the purpose of creating disruptive innovations, even if they will eventually undercut their main business. Better to disrupt yourself than to have someone else do it for you”(Gamme, 2006).

For the founding newspapers, this of course, was just what happened. Today, is both a shooting star and cash cow with 44 % profit margin on revenues of NOK 1.1 bn. I don’t think you’ll find a lot of Newspapers with that kind of result margin these days.  Today, Schibsted’s more traditional newspaper business units (Norway and abroad) hover between 2 % and 18 % profit margins.’s amazing numbers are all thanks to innovation.

Since 2006, has been working to define and strengthen its innovation process. (recommend reading this excellent blog post by Eyvind Larre, head of innovation lab).

Today is building its innovation engine further. Jens Hauglum was hired as Innovation Manager in May. on June 14th, the company took out an ad for the position of Innovation Catalyst.

It’s this ad that got our attention. 

We meet a lot of companies that talk about innovation. Some hire for innovation. But this ad is perhaps the most insightful innovation job posting we have ever seen in Norway. Many CEOs could learn from it.

In our upcoming paper “Where’s Your Innovation Academy?” we map out a holistic model for building a truly innovative company. Analyzing using this model reveals just this kind of a highly innovative company.

The holistic model for innovation has the following steps:

Why: Strategic Context er et av Norges mest lønnsomme og mest besøkte nettselskaper, og er ledende i verden innen sitt forretningsområde. er derfor en av spydspissene i Schibsted-konsernet innen online-virksomhet.

( is one of Norway’s most profitable web sites, and a world leader in its field.)

To stay grow further, innovation is an absolute requirement (our comment)

What: Vision
“FINN har ambisjon om å være blant de mest innovative selskapene i verden’’ (Finn’s ambition is to be among the world’s most innovative companies)

How: three enablers (people, culture and processes)

“Dette skal vi få til ved å etablere innovasjonsprosesser og innovasjonskultur i verdensklasse’’(We’ll acheive this by establishing worldclass innovation processes and innovation culture)

Speaking for the people side; the CEO is ‘’ Passionate about innovation and people development”. The company has a number of people working on innovation processes. And is ranked as Norway’s #1 Great Place to Work. 

Knowing there’s a strong link between employee engagement (measured in GPTW) and innovation capacity, it’s reasonable to assume a strong people-practice for innovation at

Based on our work in Norway, should be a candidate for one of the country’s most innovative companies already.

We’ve allowed ourselves to paste the entire ad below. We will be showing this to a lot of Norwegian HR-directors. There’s no need to be based in Silicon Valley to develop the innovation engine for tomorrow. is doing it right here, right now. Well done! seeking Innovation Catalyst
(see the full ad here) har på sine 12 år rukket å få praktisk talt hele Norges befolkning som fornøyde brukere. Det er vel ikke utenkelig at akkurat du har svidd av en time eller tre her også? Slikt blir det fornøyde eiere av, og etter hvert 330 engasjerte medarbeidere som sitter samlet i Oslo sentrum. Markedsplassen vår er en braksuksess, men vi har ingen planer om å bli late og fornøyde av den grunn. FINN er en viktig del av mediekonsernet Schibsted og består av markedene FINN eiendom, FINN bil, FINN jobb, FINN torget, FINN reise og FINN oppdrag.

FINNs verdier som preger oss i alt vi gjør:


FINN har ambisjon om å være blant de mest innovative selskapene i verden. Dette skal vi få til ved å etablere innovasjonsprosesser og innovasjonskultur i verdensklasse. Innovasjon er en kjernekompetanse i FINN og sammen skal vi skape de beste markedsplassene, både nye og eksisterende. Sentralt i arbeidet med å oppnå dette er teamet som jobber med FINN Way of Innovation. Teamet eier målet om innovasjonsprosesser i verdensklasse og er sentral i arbeidet med å sette retning for, og implementere, måten FINN jobber med innovasjon på.

Vi er nå på jakt etter en ny kollega. Du skal, som stillingstittelen innebærer, være en katalysator for innovasjonsarbeidet i FINN. Du vil også være en viktig kulturbærer for innovasjonsarbeidet. Stillingen rapporterer til leder for innovasjon.


Gartner: sørge for at det er jordsmonn, næring og hageredskap nok til at ideer sås, spirer og gror. Dette innebærer bla. at man skal eie prosesser og verktøy knyttet til idegenerering og verktøy, både online og ved hjelp av workshops og kreative teknikker. En viktig oppgave blir å hjelpe markedsplassene med å kjøre idekampanjer, verdiøke, prioritere og score ideer

Los: hjelpe nye og eksisterende markedsplasser med å implementere innovasjonsprosesser og verktøy. Dette innebærer bla. å være subject matter expert på innovasjon og ha sterke prosesslederegenskaper. Du må samtidig være dyktig på å bringe lærdom fra markedsplassene tilbake til den felles utviklingen av innovasjonsarbeidet i FINN


  • Erfaring fra innovasjonsarbeid, helst i større virksomhet
  • Erfaring fra å drive Idea Management prosesser, gjerne med erfaring i bruk av verktøy
  • Fasiliteringskompetanse og people skills
  • Prosess- og prosjektledelse
  • Metodekompetanse innen innovasjon
  • Gjerne erfaring fra startups
  • Erfaring fra konsulentvirksomhet vil bli vektlagt

Vi kan tilby

  • Konkurransedyktige betingelser
  • Gode pensjons- og forsikringsordninger
  • Bedriftshytter og leiligheter
  • Fri avis, telefon, nettbrett og internett.
  • Treningsmuligheter med eget treningsrom
  • Kontorer sentralt i Oslo sentrum
  • Et stimulerende, sosialt og utviklende arbeidsmiljø med dedikerte mennesker.

* note
Listed as in being the only two Norwegian companies in the most widely used international rankings. These include BusinessWeek’s , Fast Company’s MIC50, CNN/Fortune Magazine, and more.
Other rankings might provide other results. Valid as of time of writing.