The 4xI innovation model

Innovation always starts with a creative idea. But where do these ideas come from? And how does an idea evolve into a great innovation? With this simple 4 step innovation model, all companies can start their innovation journey.

The 4xI innovation model, identifies four stages in the innovation process: Inspiration, Ideation & Selection, Implementation and Innovation culture. The first three steps help you from an innovation opportunity to a well-implemented success. The fourth step, Innovation Culture is a must to embed the innovation approach in the company. This means creating a company culture of innovation and exporting successful innovations to other subsidiaries or business units.


Inspiration is the very first phase. To kick-start the process, you need inspiration for new ideas. These ideas often involve a challenge you are facing or a very specific problem you want to address. To get your creative juices flowing, you can analyse and reflect on internal challenges, like your current business. Alternatively, you can use external factors or challenges the company is facing as a source of inspiration.

Ideation & Selection

New ideas arise during the Ideation phase. There are several tools to help you come up with innovative ideas. Brainstorming is of course a well-known technique, but ideation is more than that. There's techniques like biomimicry, to get inspiration from nature, you could check scout for start-ups and new technologies...

Once the ideas are identified, you should make a thoughtful Selection. The best ideas become illegible for implementation in the next phase. Typically, the selection involves multiple steps with different selection criteria.


The third step of the 4xI model is the actual Implementation of an innovative idea. This includes every step from the first test of a prototype and the iterative process of redesigning and refining it, right up to its eventual implementation.

Innovation Culture

Finally, the fourth step is about involves spreading the word about innovative ideas so they become common practice in the company, and building a real Innovation Culture.