Rapidly Exploring Big Opportunities While…


\ Challenge

SABIC, a global chemical and materials manufacturer, had identified five “Big Bet” areas as potential new opportunities for their innovative plastics business to explore. Five project teams were assembled, across several continents, to create comprehensive business cases for each area… in just 14 weeks! They were competing for a pot of investment money from the CEO and the chance to be part of the chosen new business’ launch team.

And, beyond the obvious challenge building the case for five new businesses in under six months, SABIC had to simultaneously develop internal capability. The teams, consisting of people from very different cultures from four continents, had to be trained in the difficult art of gathering human-centric innovation insight from ecosystem members and customers.

\ Our Approach

We were brought in to train and guide the project teams in Opportunity Thinking practices / methods for:

  • gaining insight from the ecosystem and customers
  • defining opportunities
  • building new business models

Through a series of trainings, help sessions, manuals and weekly meetings, we were able to boost each team’s skill and confidence levels — moving them from somewhere between hesitant and terrified to empowered and energized! They gathered the necessary insight, exceeding even our expectations for the number and quality of interviews! They defined new opportunities using our formula of needs in the market + possible value propositions + conditions that make for the right (or wrong) timing. And, they vetted those opportunities, co-leading five workshops with ecosystem members + SABIC staff. Each group came away with clarity on where to play, and how to win.


The projects were so successful that the CEO decided to fund four of the five opportunity areas — rather than just one! The fifth was killed for insufficient market pull — also seen as a successful project for identifying where SABIC should not play.

Most importantly, many of the participants cited the project as their most important career building experience, and not just due to visibility, but because it simultaneously developed new “soft” skills critical for advancement.

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