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Innovating to grow and thrive at the heart of the national sport
In a fast-changing world, every organisation needs to innovate to stay relevant. But for organisations with a long heritage and a traditional mindset, it can be difficult to imagine new ways of doing things. The Norwegian Ski Federation exists to promote and develop skiing in Norway. Over the years, the Olympic Committee has introduced new sports and formats to engage younger generations, including bringing in two new skiing freestyle events at the Beijing 2022 Olympics and ski mountaineering due to make a debut at the 2026 games. To keep pace, the Federation knew it needed to innovate to grow the revenues on which its mission depends. The challenge was knowing where to begin.
We worked closely with the organisation to launch and run a focused innovation process that generated over 50 new ideas for innovation. We built the process around our unique innovation growth framework, which we’ve used to enable organisations around the world to innovate rapidly. From the ideas generated, we developed full concepts and business cases for the five most promising and combined these into a rich innovation portfolio with a prioritised plan for implementation.
Just six weeks after we began work, the Federation was ready to start realising a range of exciting new ideas. These span from launching new events around modern ski formats such as freestyle, to developing existing competitions to create a richer offer in tune with what young people want. With our innovation expertise, we’ve given the Federation the skills and the confidence to innovate and remain the heartbeat of Norway’s passion skiing.
Deployed our innovation growth framework to seed and build out a rich innovation portfolio, with a roadmap for realising key innovation concepts, in just six weeks
Engaged the organisation in the innovation process to stock the portfolio with ingenious ideas firmly grounded in reality
Inspired fresh thinking and expanded the organisation’s horizons to highlight new opportunities and potential partnerships across the wider ecosystem
Built out business cases for five innovation initiatives with the potential to increase engagement and boost revenues
Skiing is Norway’s national sport. Annual World Cup competitions in disciplines such as cross-country, alpine skiing and ski jumping attract huge crowds and are integral to the country’s culture. Despite this, the popularity of traditional events is fading among younger people. Meanwhile, innovative competitions built around new formats such as free-style skiing are proving a big hit with younger generations.
Without action to address this, the Federation faced the prospect of declining revenues and diminishing influence as the leading body associated with the sport. It needed fresh ideas and to realise them fast – but found itself bogged down by a traditional mindset and struggling to make progress. We provided the expertise and impetus the organisation needed to shake things up. It took us just six weeks to co-create a rich innovation portfolio and design a practical plan to kick-start action.
“The organisation was ready to act, but needed support to generate ideas and prioritise initiatives,” confirms Jonathan Thun, growth strategy expert at PA. “We’re experts in innovation, with the skills to move organisations from the ambition to innovate to the ability to innovate at speed.”
Our innovation growth framework was key. It’s a structured approach we use to inspire innovation and translate new ideas into practical initiatives. By leveraging the framework, we enable organisations to innovate at pace and meet the challenge of fast-changing markets. We’ve used it with financial services giant ING and with a leading Norwegian insurer. Elsewhere, we’ve deployed it as a key tool to drive innovation with Network Rail.
When we use the framework, we collaborate with clients to explore potential opportunities and build their own capacity to innovate. “Making organisations key players in the innovation process introduces an important element of realism,” comments PA’s Ali Rana, agile and strategy expert at PA. “The resulting strategy for innovation is deeply connected to the business and, above all, realisable.”
We launched with two idea generation sessions, working with the Federation to create a deep pool of possibilities. Ahead of the sessions, we produced briefing packs, including market insights and information on innovative business models, and practical tasks to complete. In this way, we started shifting perceptions and opening new vistas even before the sessions began.
At the sessions, we explored trends in the sector and the ecosystem that surrounds sports events. For example, new ski events often include live music and food trucks. Could partnering with entertainment and hospitality businesses enable the Federation to do this same? We also leveraged insights from past event data to pinpoint opportunities for further revenue development. For example, how were spectators travelling to events and was there an opportunity to develop a branded travel offer? We also looked beyond the traditional winter ski season to consider how the Federation could maintain its profile with skiers and ski fans through the summer months.
“Collaborating with other organisations and forming new partnerships is increasingly key to businesses’ ability to innovate and grow,” says PA’s Ali Rana. “That’s especially true for incumbent organisations with well-established brands and deep customer relationships, who nevertheless need to keep innovating to maintain dominance.”
“PA did a great job of involving the whole team in the idea generation process,” says Terje Lund, Director of Event Management, Norwegian Ski Federation. “These were virtual workshops because of COVID-19 restrictions – but PA skilfully facilitated a series of highly engaging discussions where everyone was involved and felt listened to. This generated an impressive set of new ideas.”
We applied high-level analysis to the 50+ ideas that emerged from the sessions, assessing each against factors such revenue generation potential and market trends. We also examined the competitor landscape around each idea, considered feasibility and looked at how each might contribute to the Federation’s strategic ambition to grow revenue and engage more effectively with younger people in particular. In a third session, we presented our analysis and worked with the Federation to select the most promising ideas for further development.
We built out a full business case for five selected initiatives and brought them together to form a rich innovation portfolio. This contains different categories of initiatives: plans to launch new events focused on modern ski disciplines, proposals to improve existing events and actions to develop the Federation’s partner network to improve key capabilities required for future growth. We complemented the portfolio with a detailed roadmap, including recommendations on prioritisation, starting points and managing the portfolio going forward.
“Great innovation always depends on inspiration and ingenuity,” says PA’s Jonathan Thun. “But it takes a focused process and deep practical experience to select the best ideas and bring them to life. Only when innovative concepts are realised in the real world can they drive growth and enhance competitiveness.”
In just six weeks, we enabled the Federation to break free from traditional thinking and generate a range of practical and exciting ideas for boosting revenue and engaging with a new generation of Norwegian skiers. With a detailed roadmap spanning the short term (less than 1 year), mid-term (2-3 years) and long term (3-5 years), the Federation will be able to make those ideas a reality.
“PA has taken us further with our ambition to innovate at a speed we could never have imagined. Throughout the engagement, we experienced a real sense of progress from week to week,” says the Norwegian Ski Federation’s Terje Lund. “PA have enabled us to do much more than develop an innovation portfolio. We’ve also discovered a process for initiating, sifting and selecting innovative ideas that will help keep us at the forefront of the sport into the future.”