Stars to road is a model to discuss and manage up-coming innovations – from insight to innovation delivered to the market.

The model is amazingly simple. Items in an innovation pipeline have different maturity. Items mature from hazy ideas in the stars to tangible products on the road. By making the maturity explicit, product owners, portfolio managers, project leaders and team members can bring order into something that turns out to be quite chaotic at times.

Here are the basic four levels of maturity (version: February 2019):

Stars Someone had an insight and is able to tell in a nutshell, what this insight is and why it is relevant. This story convinced at least one other person to act upon it.
Clouds We – a significant part of an organization – are pretty sure that an idea satisfies relevant needs of our customers, that the company can build and deliver it, and that this is good business for us. We have some data ready to substantiate it.
Trees We as a company agree on what we want to build for whom, how we want to make business with it, how we want to build it, and that we want to launch it.
Road We as a company have an innovation in the market and scale it to more and more customers until some new business opportunity will make us retire this innovation.

Depending on the situation in your context, you may need more or different levels. A company building products based on a technological platform could profit from “Low hanging fruits”. As opposed to tree level items, low hanging fruits can be realized using the existing platform.

When looking at the maturity, teams may view an innovation from different angles. In the essential concept, three angles seem to be necessary:

Business How sure are we that we can market this innovation and profit from it? How sure are we that the approach taken to do so is a good one?
Technology/Domain How sure are we that we can build it the way we imagine it and that we imagine the right thing?
Commitment How committed are the relevant parties of the organisation to deliver the innovation?

If you want to start using stars to road, just go and print-out the Stars to Road Cards, stick them to wall, start the discussion and place the innovations in your area onto the wall. Be ready to adapt the exact meaning of the levels to your organisation.


For the fundamental concepts behind stars to road try this article:

To gain an overview over the tools we collected and presented so far, check:

If you have an experience to share, we love to hear from you, e.g. through a comment on our posts!

Markus and Pete