Moving towards an agile, customer-centric culture
Manufacturing & Technologies
Culture & Skill Development
applied methods
> Qualitative user interviews > Scenario building > Wireframing > User testing > Creative brainstorming
Spark Labs
Over 2 years, ongoing
Multinational cigarette and tobacco manufacturing company, Philip Morris International (PMI), wanted to transform their innovation culture. They needed to create a comprehensive, certification program to select, define and teach the skills required for internal innovation catalysts.

1. Prototype & iterate

Following a series of feedback sessions and prototype iterations, we supported PMI in the selection of an overall framework outlining the best way to implement a successful, sustainable way of learning these innovation skills.

2. Online and in person curriculum creation

To address the lack of a practical and theoretical trainings that can be directly applied on the job, a mix of online learning modules and in person training was created. The approach below also meets a need for digital education that enables remote learning, independent of the learners location. The setup allows to assess not only for memory and understanding, but also motivation and application in real-life scenarios.

3. Acquiring new competencies

Each learning module contained customised assessments which evaluated the quality of the online training courses, and the knowledge and skills of the participants. The aim was to identify and certify the best-performing candidates for the role of catalyst.

steps in-depth

1. Prototype and iterate

We helped our client understand the characteristics that would make an ideal catalyst and the ability to create a repeatable and transferable way to identify such traits. We identified the methodologies and knowledge needed by catalysts and how to enable them to learn these skills quickly and independently.

2. Upskilling and new competencies

PMI used to hire a great number of external consultants, coaches or facilitators to apply innovation principles, practices and mindset such as design thinking, agile and lean startup. But external support is expensive, of variable quality and not sustainable in the long-term. Now PMI has built innovation capabilities in-house and these create the right environment to foster innovation culture.

"Through its unique assessment approach, Spark Works’ Enablement program is equipping our company globally with highly qualified, human-centered experts who all contribute to anchoring our new “customer-centric and experimentation” culture and mindset into our employees' DNA.”


After several months of feedback and iterations, we established a sound framework for the program including in-depth, theoretical knowledge, online modules and three levels of catalyst certification, culminating in a master catalyst. As the highest level of certified innovation catalyst, the master catalyst is tasked with training others and evangelizing PMI’s innovation approach throughout the organisation.
Trained and certified innovation catalysts are now responsible for driving PMI’s transformation toward a more agile, customer centric culture. PMI created and honed their self-sustaining culture of innovation by sending more than 150 of their key employees through the program for potential certification. They were able to certify 74 innovation catalysts around the globe.
Key insight

"This program proved to be very relevant. The structure of it and the steps needed to be taken in order to have an efficient and effective daily job will directly help me."