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4Ps- Exploring the Innovation Space

4Ps- Exploring the Innovation Space

What is this?

The innovation mix or the 4Ps is a model that was developed by John Bessant and Joe Tidd. The tool enables you to discover what the innovation process can improve and bring to your business. The innovation mix, Paradigm, Product, Position and Process, is not to be mistaken with the market mix and its other 4Ps: Product, Place, Promotion and Public Relations.

When and why is this tool used?

In planning, the 4Ps helps you understand where you are and how you can innovate to improve your Product, Process, Position and Paradigm. It gives you a direction of where you need to go, and in which areas of your business that you need to innovate. The Innovation space supports the idea generation process and how you can incubate a new idea.

How is this tool used?

The tool helps you explore possible enhancements in each area of your business. As shown in the figure, the tool consists of four blocks, one representing each one of the 4Ps. Download the template and start your business innovation now.

Step 1 (Paradigm: How do we frame what we do?):

Use innovation to improve the way you do business. The change could be radical, but bear in mind that not all changes are always positive. Let your imagination take you to all the possible changes that can leverage your profit. That includes changes in your business model, like, for example, changing your published products from print to online platforms.

Step 2 (Product: What do you offer?):

Ask yourself and your team questions like, how can you improve your product or service? How can you make it more appealing and better than other available products?
The suggestions can include ways to make your product better, known as incremental change. Another form of suggested innovation is making your product completely different or radical change.

Step 3 (Process: How do you create that offering?):

This doesn’t only include the preparation processes of your product or service. Think of all the steps you take, such as supplying, workflow, hiring people, and training. How can this all be enhanced to increase your profit? What are the latest trends to carry out those processes?

Step 4 (Position: Where do we target the offering?):

This area works on changing the context in which the products/services are framed. How are they communicated? How do people see you? Customers? Employees? The Public? How can you make this image get better?

Step 5 (Analyze all your findings):
Keep on asking questions until you reach satisfying answers. Write down your findings with all the information. Review your analysis regularly; it might change a little with the market growing. Always work on bringing more innovation to your business and remember, Albert Einstein saying, “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got”.

Hints for using this tool

Try to find gaps and unexplored spaces that you can possibly innovate within, ask yourself if there are any opportunities for changes within these spaces. Consider the way each improvement or change will affect your business carefully.

Case Study

Bic is a famous company known previously for ballpoint pens. After a while, the company realised that it needs to develop a new range of product in order to stay in the market. Here is Bic’s innovation space. 


Bic owners started to see new aspects in their business. Bic was known for a company that produces pens. Looking to their company with a totally different paradigm, they saw Bic as a disposable plastic products company. Innovation requires seeing the same thing from a different perspective, that is what takes companies to a further level.  


Bic  has a series of innovations other than ballpoint pens. They started to launch new products and develop existing products. Bic produced several disposable plastic products such as razors, lighters, and plastic bags. Recently they produced the Bic mobile phone.

Additionally, developing current products to meet customers’ needs. Bic developed 5 different products from their crystal pen each for a different use. For example, the crystal pocket for a more reliable size, and crystal gel for smooth writing. Also developing on their shavers to produces, triple blade shavers, smooth cut and women shavers.


Process innovation included  the manufacturing process and the distribution process.  Instead of only selling at stationaries, Bic became available at pharmacies and supermarkets.
They also used a booth presence in large retails, with a bright and attractive products display.


Bic opened up new market segments targeting individuals based on age and gender. For examples, male and female shavers or coloured smooth pens for children. Lighters included the cigarette pocket lighters for men and Bic Megalighter for BBQ parties and kitchen use. 

Additionally, developing transferring from point and ink to smooth gel production for pens, required modifications in the manufacturing process. Bic had to improve their machines and update it with the latest technologies to convert to the latest pens technology.       

In order to survive the competitive market, Bic had to use the innovation mix to improve several business aspects and that’s what made the whole difference. If they thought of their image as only a company that produces pens, they wouldn’t have taken any steps forward.

Pros and Cons

This tool is flexible and will increase innovative thinking among your group and help you develop several aspects of your business. Meanwhile, the tool lacks structured and succession planning.

Photo credit: bicworld

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