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Finding new areas of growth with business model innovation

Kurt Bostelaar
August 11, 2023
 min read

David Liss, a Global Business Leader at W.L. Gore & Associates reached out to Strategyzer for help in advancing their innovation initiatives. Although Gore had experienced healthy growth, they were looking for ways to accelerate it further. They were interested in exploring our 12 week innovation sprint that includes fast-paced customer discovery and business model innovation.

Companies that are prepared for disruption are constantly reinventing themselves. They don’t believe they are invincible. The main task of leadership today is to constantly reinvent your organisation.”

The challenge

How can Gore adopt an exploratory mindset to rapidly test out new business ideas in a B2B setting? How might they move beyond a technology or product focus to pursue business model innovation?

The solution

Strategyzer’s 12 week innovation sprint helped guide W.L. Gore teams. They shaped, designed, and adapted new ideas for growth through real world testing with customers.

The impact

Real customer input led to new markets to sell to, products that were more in line with customer needs, an updated go-to-market strategy, and the realization of a more efficient manufacturing method.

Accelerating growth at Gore

W.L. Gore & Associates is a global materials science company with over 12,000 employees and annual revenues of 4.5 billion. They have thousands of products across industries but are most well known for their waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex fabrics. Gore has a long history of innovation and growth that goes all the way back to their founding in 1958. They are excellent at product innovation but recently they wanted to find new levels of growth. They tasked David Liss with exploring strategic ways to use business model innovation to do so. He contacted Strategyzer for help.

We're looking for a different angle to continue to drive our growth. We've been growing in that market for decades and want to see if we can accelerate that growth rate.”
David Liss
Global Business Leader WL Gore

A different mindset for exploring new opportunities

To achieve their goals, Gore recognized that they would need to experiment with a new approach. This required finding the right team members who were willing to take on the challenge. Gore pulled together multidisciplinary teams for this. Each consisted of a market leader, an operations leader, product management team members, and others such as those from finance. Gore then partnered with Strategyzer to equip them. Strategyzer trained them in business model innovation and customer discovery. Teams learned to use the Business Model Canvas to visualize the current state of the business.

I think that's probably one of the strongest benefits of the Business Model Canvas—you show everything on one page. It's like creating a painting that everyone can look at and understand how your business operates.”
David Liss
Global Business Leader WL Gore

Customer Discovery in B2B

Strategyzer coaches then helped the teams explore ways to improve, extend, and evolve the existing business model. The teams explored a variety of options with each idea representing a future growth opportunity. Having identified 5-6 ideas that were ready for testing, the question became; how do we test these new directions for growth with customers? Gore had experience in product innovation and was used to focusing on technology, science, and data. This customer focused methodology represented a different approach that raised a host of practical questions for them. How do we get meetings and calls set up with customers? How can we get access to customers in our B2B manufacturing industry? With guidance from Strategyzer Innovation Coaches the Gore teams ended up holding many customer interviews.

Most folks expect that you can't do customer discovery with B2B businesses really effectively. We found that’s not true. In many cases, we got the interview sessions with higher level contacts in some of these organizations because we explained that we were doing customer discovery, and weren’t there to sell anything. We found it pretty exciting.”
David Liss
Global Business Leader WL Gore
David Liss and his colleagues working with Strategyzer tools.

Discovering new growth engines

In the past it took Gore years to know if they had a winning idea. By running many ideas in parallel with an innovation sprint they were able to gather feedback in weeks. With specific guidance and support they made a tremendous amount of progress in a short time. David observed, “We went through 36 customer discovery interviews over that eight weeks. We made many modifications to our Business Model Canvas. I think it was 315 changes. We had six pivots along the way--changes in the direction that we were investigating.”

Having that pace, that tick-tock of the clock and the urgency to get things tested, get feedback back from customers and actually boil that back into our model and assessment, that I think was what was most important for us.”
David Liss
Global Business Leader WL Gore

Presenting new growth opportunities

At the conclusion of the testing phase, Strategyzer guided the teams at Gore on how to present their findings. The teams presented the sprint results through evidence based pitch presentations. These findings and this innovation sprint ended up being a springboard for Gore to continue testing and exploring new growth ideas. The outcomes they shared with their leadership team were focused on four distinct areas.

  1. Ways to better align their products with customers.
  2. New customer segments and markets that they could target with their existing product lineup.
  3. A new manufacturing process
  4. An updated and improved go-to-market strategy more focused on the needs of customers
This approach provides deep insight into what customers are looking for and how you can evolve your business model to serve your customers better. It provides a very clear objective and expansive view to new ways to address those needs and create value. In our case, we identified new approaches that we will implement to increase our growth potential.”
David Liss
Global Business Leader WL Gore
Kurt Bostelaar
August 11, 2023
It was a tremendous amount of work and we are extremely thankful to the whole team at Strategyzer. We learnt so much: three years ago we didn't really know how to start, and now I think we have built robust program that generations after us can continue to run.”
Henning Till
Head of Corporate Innovation, Bayer
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