5 of Our Favorite Innovation Concepts

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We have compiled some of our favorite innovation concepts.

Over the last few weeks, we have been asked to facilitate multiple sessions for corporate innovation.  Our clients end the session filled with excitement about design thinking and ask us for a few tools that they can use once we leave. We compiled some of our favorite innovation concepts below. We encourage everyone to explore each of these concepts to see if they have a place in their organization.  If you have any questions, please contact one of our team to find out how Stonehill can help bring innovation to your corporate strategy.

Blue Sky Sessions

These sessions are normally early in the ideation phase of creating a strategy.  Participants in the session are asked to ignore all constraints (physical, practical, budgetary, etc.) and just let ideas flow on how to accomplish the end goal.  The team can play with their ideas and dream the impossible.  Not all ideas make it out of a blue sky session, but those that do are guaranteed to be much more exciting than ideas that were formed with notions that would limit the imagination.


This is a concept that has its roots in the walls of Pixar and Walt Disney Imagineering. The concept leverages the guiding principle that no idea is bad is a bad idea.  It is also founded on a belief that you may only criticize an idea if you also add a constructive suggestion. Plussing is simply a technique that allows people to improve ideas without using harsh or judgmental language. During production meetings, instead of merely shooting down ideas, every criticism must come with a plus, with a better idea attached. This concept creates a culture where no one is afraid to make their ideas heard and that no idea is merely taken at face value.


When starting any type of innovation or strategy project, you need to fully explore the stakeholders that will be affected by its outcomes. Grab your team, identify the stakeholders, and give them names to make them real. Take time to explore what these individuals really care about, where they spend their time, and what drives their decision. Remove them from the context of the strategy and test the personas you define against how they might be at home or on vacation. Sometimes we tend to think people are one dimensional, and believe they are driven by a few ideas. Not all CEOs are driven by P&Ls, and not all clients want cheap experiences. They are human, care about their families, want to be entertained, and have challenges that they tackle daily.

Strategy Maps

Strategy maps are a tremendous tool for framing and communicating the various elements of an advanced strategy. The map begins with the mission of the organization, then transcends into exploring the wants and needs of the various stakeholders (i.e. customers, employees, and shareholders) within a system. The needs of the stakeholders are used to identify opportunities for the organization to grow or learn to address the needs. Financial goals are then outlined, and initiatives seem to automatically flow from the map. The map provides a living tool that can be pulled out to keep the team focused, reminded of the reasons behind the strategy, and delivering on the initiatives.

Journey Maps

One of the most powerful tools in service design is a journey map. A journey map is a step by step drawing of how a service is delivered. Maps are commonly broken down into the major functions of a process, so the process can be explored in a compartmentalized manner with fewer than 25 steps per function. We always start with the current state and try to keep the map as simple as possible. Spend time testing the map after you have defined it – we know from experience that there are always a few items that someone thought worked one way and really don’t. Once the current state is defined, the team can be brought in to visually develop ideas for improving the experience with a blue sky session.