June 29, 2020

166 | Prioritization Road Map: Inventing the Future – with Alexander Osterwalder

Today you’re going to learn a practical approach to inventing the future. All you have to do is take action and trust the process.

Joining us is Alexander Osterwalder, inventor of the Business Model Canvas and co-founder of strategyzer.com.  Alexander recently released a new book — “The Invincible Company: How to Constantly Reinvent Your Organization with Inspiration From the World’s Best Business Models” — and it’s a fantastic resource for any organization struggling with a prioritization roadmap.


When you’re looking at your organization’s portfolio of products, how do you figure out where you should and shouldn’t invest time and money?

  • Alexander says you can divide every company into two buckets: managing the existing and inventing the future.
  • Companies tend to focus entirely on managing the existing, but efficiency innovation alone often isn’t enough to stay alive in the long-term. Or, in a year like 2020, even in the short-term. “If you only focus on efficiency innovation, you might just die more efficiently.”
  • If you want to be around for 50+ years, you need to go beyond efficiency innovation and start thinking of transformative innovation.
  • That’s why, at Strategyzer, they break their products up into two different portfolios: improvements for existing products and inventing the future.
  • The more risk there is in your industry is, the more you need to invest in the future.
  • You need people with different skill sets for different parts of your journey and working on products in those different buckets.
  • Innovation is expensive when you scale — but it’s actually pretty cheap when you’re just starting.
  • At the end of the day, we need to create great products and great companies for the benefit of society. If your business has a net positive impact on society, it has a much greater chance of lasting in the long run.

The utility of failure

  • The most successful innovators and entrepreneurs are over 40. It’s very rare for first-time innovators or entrepreneurs to be successful.
  • So, you need to have that experienced person in your company, someone who’s been there and done that before. Having that person on your team can be the difference between a business that fails in two years and a business that outlasts you.
  • We can’t penalize people for experimenting and failing. That’s a necessary step towards innovation.




Since 2014, 3Pillar has published The Innovation Engine, a podcast that sees a wide range of innovation experts come on to discuss topics that include technology, leadership, and company culture. You can download and subscribe to The Innovation Engine on iTunesStitcher RadioSpotify, and SoundCloud to listen online, via Android or iOS, or on any device supporting a mobile browser. You can download The Innovation Engine’s dedicated iOS app from the Apple Podcasts App store, and you can subscribe to receive new episodes in your inbox each time one is published.