Innovation Continuity Canvas In Action (Part 2)

We would like to thank those who have taken the time to use/test our Innovation Continuity Canvas (ICC) as part of your Innovation Continuity Plan (ICP). A number of you have written to us, thanking us for the canvas and some of you have also raised more questions and clarifications on how to make full use of the canvas. As such, we’ve prepared a new article as a follow up to our previous article.

Get Started With Innovation Continuity Canvas (ICC)

The respective group of blocks “What-How-Who-Value” represents the overall areas to be covered to understand how best to innovate during a crisis.

  • WHAT: What is happening with the business?
  • HOW: How will businesses find new solutions?
  • WHO: What resources will the business need to develop a new solution(s)?
  • VALUE: How do we measure success?

In terms of the way the blocks are filled in, it can follow these steps from 1–9 below. However, like any good canvas addressing a specific challenge that may be isolated or constantly evolving, one can edit these blocks back-and-forth as one sees fit.

WHAT

1. SITUATION: What is the crisis and how will it affect our business?

2. MISSION-CRITICAL: What is needed for business survival?

HOW

3. MINDSET: How can we see our business from a different perspective?

4. STRATEGY: What do we need to do to achieve our “Mission-Critical Goals”?

5. TECHNOLOGY: What kind of technology will be used to enable the business to implement the strategy?

WHO

6. RESOURCES: Who do we need to perform all of the above?

7. COLLABORATION: Who can we partner with to implement our solution faster?

8. CHANNELS: Which channels can be used to communicate effectively to the target group?

VALUE:

9. VALUE: What indicators economic and/or social value can we measure?

Connect The Blocks With Meaningful Indicators

Not all blocks should have both qualitative and quantitative indicators in our ICC. The SITUATION, MINDSET, and CHANNELS may not need quantitative indicators. The other blocks can adopt both indicators.

It is also important to note that while other blocks can be either qualitative and/or quantitative, the VALUE block needs to be at the very least, a quantitative indicator otherwise we can’t measure our success.

Using MISSION-CRITICAL as an example:

Having both indicators in the MISSION-CRITICAL is a more holistic approach to allow for a better understanding of the goal you want to achieve and having this clarity helps with the formulation of the HOW part later.

(i) QuantitativeWhat is the cost of keeping your business alive and running (weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually) — paying of rent, salary, electricity bill, etc.? Let us assume it is US$100,000 per month. This is the minimum that your business will have to generate to continue to survive.

In one of our case study, a fashion e-commerce company was no longer able to meet their minimum requirement to survive selling clothing, so they had to pivot from selling clothing to selling Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) as these are the basic home necessities during the pandemic crisis as their new offering to generate income. Even though the strategy is to pivot, the end game is still to generate enough income to cover the cost of keeping the business alive and running.

(ii) Quantitative and Qualitative — Assuming, you want to build a longer runway for your cash reserve given the uncertainty of when the crisis will end — from 3 months to 6 months. Without going into the exact formula to calculate the cash reserves over the burn rate, we can summarize that the activities involved could be either to stretch your existing reserves (reduce one’s burn rate) or getting an investment/business loan (increase one cash amount and availability). Assuming that you want to stretch your cash reserves, the activities may involve cost reduction measures [quantitative — how much to reduce] but may not want to resort to dismissing your employees [qualitative]. A strategy would be to implement taking mandatory unpaid leave or reduce working days from 5 to 4 days workweek or down to 2–3 days for non-critical roles like the receptionist, HR personnel, etc.

Using RESOURCES as an example:

(i) Quantitative and Qualitative — Let’s assume, our fashion e-commerce is pivoting and now needs riders who can deliver perishable goods instead of clothing and to experiment the new offering, they will need to have at least 10 riders [quantitative] who have the right equipment to deliver the goods safely [qualitative].

Using COLLABORATION as an example:

(i) Qualitative — Let’s assume, our fashion e-commerce has settled on the needs of suitable riders to help them kickstart the new offering, who are the partners they can work with immediately.

How To Tackle The ‘HOW’ Part

The MINDSET block should be aimed at the behavioral changes at the organizational level that allows both STRATEGY to be developed. As such, it should ideally happen before both the STRATEGY and TECHNOLOGY sections are filled. However, they can be revisited at a later stage if something changes either in the earlier or later sections.

For example, if the conditions in the SITUATION change, which affect the MISSION-CRITICAL, i.e. if a cure/vaccination for COVID-19 was found, a lockdown is no longer necessary, how would this change the MINDSET block? Or, if the TECHNOLOGY needed is out of reach due to pricing factors or the RESOURCES are not available, what sort of changes are needed for the MINDSET to allow the user to react, adapt and/or change the future sections?

The Differences Between Technology and Resources

The TECHNOLOGY block covers the technological capability to implement the strategy. It includes your own company’s technology (i.e. capabilities/platforms/payment solutions) and/or the technology available from partners and vendors that could be quickly adopted for your own usage.

The fashion e-commerce company may already have a tech platform leveraging both on their own as well as partners technology to host, market, sell, transact payment, fulfill the orders, and track the purchases.

Whilst we agree that technology can be part of resources, we feel that in today’s world given the importance and utility of technology, it should warrant its own block. It is also important to bear in mind that sometimes, we can confuse technology to be the answer to the problem, but quite often, technology is a part of the larger component that is leveraged to strengthen your innovation and help your business to scale.

Another clear distinction between TECHNOLOGY and RESOURCES should be the people factor. For example, TECHNOLOGY is the platform, RESOURCES are the programmers and developers. It is ideal to list all the resources and a clear distinction of these resources needed to implement the strategies in the RESOURCES block.

For example, our fashion e-commerce company in its pivot into selling FMCG/Food products can already leverage their existing resources [internal] such as the employees who are covering business development, partnerships, digital marketing, and social media engagement, etc. to launch their new offering. However, they will still have to rely on delivery people or riders [internal/external] who may or may not have the ability to cater or deliver perishable goods.

Right Mindset Is Important Than The ICC Itself

Our ICC is designed for a company that wants to find a way to continue to innovate to ensure the survival of their business during a crisis or a disaster period. It is also important to remember and realize that when doing our ICC, there are some factors to consider:

  1. Only focus on what is the fundamental need for your business to survive — the basic necessity, which will eventually be covered in our “Mission-Critical” block.
  2. Always focus on what the people/customer need during this time of the crisis — although not covered in ICC, it is covered by a number of other tools like the Value Proposition Canvas, the BMC, Design Thinking, Lean Startup, etc.
  3. Be willing to change your point of view and business offering, which will be covered under MINDSET.

ICC And ICP Is Not An Innovation Panacea

It is important to note that, just like any other innovation tool available in the market, the ICC is not a “solve-all-solution”. It is meant to be a tool to use holistically with other tools to provide better overall strategy development and implementation to your innovation and business. “Just as a surgeon needs a variety of tools to perform specific operations”, Alex Osterwalder, the author, and creator of the fame Business Model Canvas (BMC), believes that executives and entrepreneurs need more tools to solve different problems beyond the usual SWOT analysis and business plan.

We thought that ICC and ICP are the great starting point to let you and your organization don’t stop innovating during this unique moment.

We offer FREE consultation to help you fight with COVID-19. Reach out to us at hello[at]riseaccel.com if you need help or ask any questions in the comment box below.

CEO and Co-Founder, RISE — Our mission is to drive 1% of GDP for Southeast Asia