Strategic Innovation


Every business faces a constant barrage of challenges – but some are sticky enough to persist no matter what is thrown at them. While some have a relatively low-impact, others have implications that must be overcome, such as key opportunities that could differentiate you in the eyes of your customer. At Recombinators, we see innovation as a vehicle for solving the unsolvable, and have developed a proven approach to generating truly breakthrough ideas with quantifiable returns to help leaders deal with the proverbial things that “keep them up at night.”

We offer this pure-play service for this reason – to identify the top 1-2 challenges that if solved would provide your business the greatest return. We will help you re-frame these challenges to set you down a path of innovative thinking, find sources of inspiration from unexpected places to generate big ideas, and build a business case and robust implementation roadmap to realize expected returns in-line with your existing strategy. To learn more about our Strategic Innovation service or discuss how we can help with your critical challenge, please contact us.


Overcoming an Existential Threat


Businesses of all types must contend with big, market-shaping trends. These trends can stem from competitive disruption, regulatory changes, and globalized supply chains. While these still exist, today it is the consumers themselves that use their power to drive paradigm shifts in the marketplace. Businesses today – regardless of how new, established, or successful they are – can not rest on their laurels and assume their value is permanent among customers. In the modern era, brand equity is now something that is not only built but is actively maintained.

An iconic food & beverage client approached us with a situation they never thought they would face. They were the founders of their market, "synonymized" their brand with the category, successfully fended off a deluge of new entrants, expanded their product portfolio, and became one of the most recognizable and beloved brands across the world. Despite this overwhelming success, this company saw that their consumer base’s consumption patterns were trending away from not only their core category, but the keystone brand portfolio the enterprise was based on due to a growing health stigma. With declining sales in their core business, our Client saw an imminent and existential threat to the future of their entire company.


Our assessment of the issues helped us narrow our focus and reframe the key challenge in a new way – How can we turn a growing health stigma about our core products into a business advantage? By reframing the issue from one to manage to one to embrace, we sent the Client down an entirely new way of thinking about the problem.
Perplexed as to how this situation could have manifested itself for such a powerful brand, our Client came to us with over ten different issues – internal and market-focused – they felt they needed to solve in order to manage this threat. While each issue was valid, two things were clear. First, tackling all challenges together would be unfeasible. Second, the 1-2 challenges that were at the root of the others and would have the most impact if solved where worth developing an innovative solution for.

We deconstructed the newly framed challenge into its smallest pieces, then removed them from industry context to find anyone, anywhere, anytime that has solved those challenges.

Through our search, we found unexpected precedents into how organizations have successfully controlled perception, flipped conversations, converted hearts and minds to be part of the solution, and demonstrated visible leadership. By recombining insights from Nike, Pope Francis, Lego, McDonalds, the NFL, and Toms Shoes (to name a few), we were able to craft an innovative solution to the health stigma the Client could implement immediately.


Developed a new market approach championing the idea of moderation, which quickly became a growth category for snack & beverage brands alike.