Innovation strategy for SGS, the Forbes 2000 global leader in the TIC industry

SGS is the global leader in testing, inspection, and certification (TIC) services worldwide, with almost 100,000 employees and operating in more than 2,600 offices and laboratories across the globe. Given the volume of information associated with SGS’s scale and diversity of services, Koos was invited to partner with the Digital & Innovation team to define and align innovation strategies with the divisions of SGS for the next five years. We worked together to foresee future scenarios and decide which investment opportunities were the wisest choices to benefit the company and its customers in the medium to long term.




Develop an Innovation approach and collaboration structure from within the organisation to help build consensus, define a long-term strategy, and make innovation more transparent to all stakeholders.


This “single source of truth” for innovation will help areas by setting a consistent future view, focusing on real opportunities, making more transparent investment decisions, and facilitating decision-making when new business opportunities arise - especially when uncertainty is high.

Developing a collaborative innovation approach

Big companies tend to invest in innovation based on long-held assumptions, hyped technologies, or individual views of the future. As an over 100-year-old company, SGS is shifting its mindset to become more digitised and innovative. Indeed SGS aspires to be the most digital company in the TIC industry. One of the complexities of a matrix structure is that each division faces a range of different challenges in local and global markets. However, they need to align on a coherent innovation strategy to guide the different divisions’ investments transversally. To tackle that complexity, the “Innovation Thesis” approach was tailor-made by us alongside the innovation team from SGS to help build consensus, define a long-term strategy, and make innovation more transparent to all stakeholders.

A collaborative vision toward innovation maturity

To build a unified vision of the future and align innovation efforts, we developed a specific Thesis for each business division participating in the process. The Thesis aims to embrace different evidence-based future visions in a one-page document to guide investments with a clear long-term vision and strategy.


After 18,500 post-its created during more than 50 hours of workshops, the working team developed a series of possible Future Scenarios of what the world will look like in 2027. This clear vision led to more than 650 investment opportunities, which the leadership teams prioritised. It has already begun to guide the next steps of SGS’s innovation efforts (such as Moonshot Campaigns). In these one-pagers, one for each of the divisions, all stakeholders can recognise what the future will look like and which opportunities to invest in to achieve success. To provide more guidance, extended material was also developed to support decisions and make the in-depth compiled information more robust.


Each of the four theses created followed a slightly different approach to fit their unique context, which aimed to engage a broad spectrum of participants. All strive for the same goal: to achieve a strategically aligned document made collaboratively with senior management decision-makers. This “single source of truth” for innovation will help the business by setting a consistent future view, focusing on real opportunities, making more transparent investment decisions, and facilitating decision-making when new business opportunities arise. Having these different experienced perspectives in a single environment also increased the innovation maturity of the divisions, requiring stakeholders to deal with the natural uncertainties of the process with an iterative and collaborative mindset.

Walking the innovation path through co-creation

The design process was tailor-made by our team alongside SGS’ innovation team (Global Incubation Lab) to meet the company’s unique needs. Firstly, the design process was carried out in 3 workshops of 4 hours each, rolled out in three different areas inside the organisation. Each session had a different focus:

  • understand and define the status quo of the division
  • envision and agree upon the long-term vision of the market
  • build consensus on which investments will lead to SGS’s success


In advance, key stakeholders were required to complete assignments related to the sessions, such as identifying trends and fleshing out future scenarios. This process was refined and iterated along the way. For the last division, a new format of 4 workshops of 3 hours was used, which made sessions less extensive and more efficient and gave us space for a final round-off session for consensus building.

You can’t ask employees to ‘go build cool things’. Investments in innovation need to happen in a structured and focused way that aligns with the strategic objectives of the company. We’re grateful for the Innovation Thesis approach that Koos Service Design developed with us, because it has invited us to be very explicit about the types of innovation projects that we will and will not invest in.

— Stephen Parkins Global Head of Corporate Incubation at SGS

What are the following steps?

As a follow-up to keep the Thesis up to date, we envisioned periodic updates when relevant changes in the market happen and there are new needs to be addressed. Also, an efficient communication plan to disseminate the information to all Business divisions is being put into practice and receiving traction through internal channels, triggering innovation on all levels of the organisation.

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Luiz Botega

Luiz is eager to make the world a better place through the intersection between design and AI, one experience at a time.
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