Networking conversations for Innovation

The word “Innovation” is used when describing a wide range of new outcomes that didn’t exist before. “Innovation” is used to describe the invention of a new ice cream flavor or the creation of an entirely new industry. Often the same word can be used within a conversation but with different intentions. The result is frustrating discussions that do not produce the desired outcomes. The solution lies in the intention of the conversation. Some might say the ambition of the conversation. So, what are the different types of innovation conversations and how could they be classified?

Bansi Nagji and Geoff Tuff are the creators of the “Innovation Ambition Matrix“. This matrix groups innovation into 1 of 3 categories based on an intersection between the company’s strategic plan to create a market-leading edge and the markets they are playing in.

The 3 categories are:


Innovators in this space take market trends, competition analysis results from customer engagement survey’s to produce innovations. These conversations are targeted at optimizing products/services for existing customers.


Adjacent innovation builds on top of the foundation of the company’s existing products/services. Conversations in this space seek to result in the creation of brand new products/services offered to an entirely new customer segment.


Conversations that describe transformational innovations seek to produce entirely new innovations for markets that don’t exist yet. The results of innovations in this category are famously known as disruptive when successful.

By classifying the goal of the innovation conversation teams can align more accurately around the generation, refinement, and implementation of ideas to produce more effective outcomes.

Team enabled winning

Mika Häkkinen is a 2 times F1 world champion. As he faced increased competition which limited his victories he was forced to move from an individualistic strategy to leveraging a strong team to reach his goals. In this short video, he shares his journey to understanding that the seeds of winning are grounded in building and positioning oneself within a solid, reliable team.

Gaming and opportunities

Gene Klein, a Holocaust survivor, reflects on the life lessons he has extracted from his trials in a German concentration camp.

2 strategies he utilized to survive his life-threatening circumstances are:

Accelerated opportunity taking

Gene explains how he had to seize opportunities at the moment they were presented. Assessing the outcome of the status quo enabled Gene to construct a strategy that would enable him reach the goal of survival. The establishment of a predefined strategy enabled Gene to assess opportunities faster than others which ultimately saved his life.


Gene implemented a simple incentive model: If he survived the day he would consider his goal successfully accomplished for the day. Every morning the “game” would initiate and every night if he was able to make it back to his bed he would define that day as a victorious day for himself. Gene made it through the harshest environments through finding an internal motivational model which allowed him to achieve his ultimate goal.