Philips adopts an outside-in approach to tackle growth targets for a legacy product line, becoming an impressive case study in disruptive innovation.

Founded in 1891 as a manufacturer of carbon-filament lamps, Philips is now a global powerhouse with divisions focused in the areas of electronics, healthcare and lighting.

One of Philips newly acquired divisions had been given a very aggressive growth target. With a best selling product that was 10 years old and a dry pipeline, the GM for the division knew that responding to competition as a means for specifying new products (their current approach to innovation) was not going enable them to reach their growth targets.

The GM was keen on Upstream Thinking and the application of a customer journey-based approach and seeing a distinct need for new ways to drive disruptive innovation through her division, to identify new opportunity spaces. She was hopeful that this approach might even help them disrupt the market and leap-frog the competition they historically chased.

Upstream worked with current, former and target customers to understand needs, desires, barriers, stakeholders and influencers along the path-to-purchase through the product experience. Then cross-functional internal interviews were conducted to map the Philips offering across the journey.

Seven new growth opportunity spaces were identified with three immediately prioritized based on potential impact to the business and potential impact to customers. Upstream then designed and facilitated co-creation sessions, with Philips customers and functional leads, to ideate solutions within those prioritized spaces. Eleven new concepts emerged and were brought to life as storyboard scenarios used to direct investment and execution teams.


“Upstream’s engagement led to a roadmap of new and high potential concepts. The first to reach market quickly broke a number of sales records.”

– GM, Philips Lighting


Upstream enabled Philips Lighting to:

Shift from a tech-push to a market-pull organization; discovering a broader customer journey than previously understood.

Identify growth opportunity spaces for new stakeholders and new stakeholder needs along the customer journey.

Co-create solutions to satisfy needs prioritized in the journey map; developing a short, mid and long-term innovation roadmap.

Push more disruptive ideas onto the roadmap.

Crush aggressive growth targets established by corporate for the division.


For more information on how we can make Upstream Thinking work for your business, contact: Melissa Young, Partner at Upstream – 512-550-2200 –