future studies in innovation process

Futures Studies in Innovation Processes


Future studies in innovationDuring the past 5 months Lina Simme and Linda Eriksson from the master program in Design and Product Development at Linköping University conducted their master thesis together with us at Modular Management. It has been an exciting journey both for Lina and Linda and for us at Modular Management. Knowledge development is a strong passion for us and in the interview below Lina and Linda will share their experience and Colin De Kwant from Modular Management will give his view of the result. At the end you can download the full master thesis.

What has been the topic of your research?

The topic we chose to write about is how you could apply futures studies in innovation processes. The full title is  “The Application of Futures Studies in Innovation Processes Scenario methods as a tool to facilitate flexibility and enable
future resilient products”

Why did you decided to write about this specific topic?

Companies in different industries are under a lot of pressure. We have seen that the environment for all industries is characterised by a dynamic market with a rate of change that is higher than ever especially concerning technological developments. Laws and regulation must be followed and nobody can be certain about what is to come. Innovation has therefore become a must rather than a need and you must be able to respond quickly on the changes in your environment to stay relevant on the market. Therefore we found the combination of futures studies and innovation processes incredibly interesting as a way to prepare for future changes although we know nothing about them!

What did you do in your research?

We studied what was discussed in literature concerning futures studies and innovation processes and tried to understand how we could link these two together in order to create a more flexible and holistic innovation process. We then conducted interviews with three different companies within the manufacturing of vehicles in the Swedish industry of rail and road vehicles to investigate how they have structured their innovation processes and how they make plans for their future. We tried to find ways of how and where futures studies could be incorporated within the innovation process in order enable for companies to produce more future resilient products.

How would you summarize the findings of your research?

Through our study we have found that the conditions for companies’ capacity to innovate depend largely on their internal knowledge sharing as well as their interaction with the surrounding environment. We further found that futures studies are used in companies of the industry of rail and road vehicles, mostly at the corporate level to support planning and develop strategies. Futures studies are also moderately used in early phases if the innovation process with the purpose of detecting promising research projects, future development and product concepts. However, we have identified that there is potential and a need of making more use of the already performed futures studies as well as improving their communication within the organization.future studies

The main issue that we saw with the present futures studies conducted in the industry of rail and road vehicles is that the results are not sufficiently communicated within the organization. One way of improving the integration of futures studies in the innovation process would be to involve employees from all departments in activities aimed at creating scenarios of the future. The result from the scenario activity could then serve as input for several activities: Promote idea generation to achieve more high-quality ideas, to ensure the quality and market fit of the products during the development process and as support for the corporate strategy planning. By using the scenarios of the future for more than one purpose, companies are given a chance to overcome the problems they are experiencing with translating the corporate strategy into specific product teams’ actions as well as aligning the direction of the different departments.

What are the key insights and take-away from this report?

Communication is key! Be awake and alert and stay open minded for all possibilities!

How is your research connected to KTH’s research centre ECO2VehicleDesign?

Our master thesis is supporting the research that Colin de Kwant is conducting at Modular Management which in turn is a part of the research within the ECO2Vehicle Design centre at KTH. This way we became a part of the research center ECO2 and were further able to use it as a platform to find people to interview for our study. We were given the opportunity to participate during some of their gatherings which gave us great information and insights of the Swedish transport system in general. It turned out that the companies in the center made up for perfect candidates to investigate innovation processes as their products are very complex.

Why did you choose to do your thesis with Modular Management?

We met with Modular Management during a career fair at the University of Linköping and were introduced to what they do. As an engineer within the area of design and product development, modularization is something extremely engaging and opens a lot of possibilities. We met some of the employees and got a really good impression of the company so we started a conversation about what kind of master thesis that could be valuable for both Modular Management and us to conduct. Discussions led to an interesting subject that we could shape into something that would fit well with our prior knowledge and competences and which we really wanted to learn more about.

How have you experienced this process and what are your personal take-aways from this?

The process and collaboration with Modular Management has been great! We have had the opportunity to see how a consultancy firm really operates and how collaboration with other companies can be performed. We have been really welcomed at the company by all employees from the very first day and we have felt that we are a part of the Modular Management team. Although Covid-19 has limited us from being at the office for the last couple of months the feeling of being a part of Modular Management never changed. Thanks to the trust, freedom and support they have given us we never experienced any problems combining the criteria from our university noor our own interests with the interests of Modular Management.  – So if you are about to start a thesis, we recommend that you reach out to Modular Management!

What are your plans for the future? 

For the autumn Linda will begin her career at Axfood as a project controller for their IT department, which she is really excited about! Lina is still searching for exciting new challenges, so don’t miss out on the opportunity of grabbing her for your company! But first we will both enjoy the summer months and some time off after five years of intensive studies. Although who knows, anything can happen as the future is uncertain anyways!

Thanks Lina & Linda! Now turning to Colin De Kwant,  VP at Modular Management. You have been the supervisor, together with Arne Erlandsson  for this project and what are your reflections from the result of their research?

The results and attitude to the work by Lina and Linda have been really great. Future studies is a big field of research which is greatly under appreciated both in MSc university studies as well as industry. Not being able to know what the future holds and still being able to prepare for it in a structured way in organizations by exploring and aligning on areas of change as well as certainty builds strategic flexibility in both individuals and organizations. Modularity has since long been a means to create and sustain such strategic flexibility, and we know how to apply it in a structured way. This study helped in formalizing and structure to what ends modularity shall be evaluated and applied to a product: to fit and perform in future environments (aka scenarios). The study also identified ways to extend the use of future studies from corporate strategy and fuzzy front-end development into the full innovation process, including development of products and module systems that may enable or disable innovation and strategic opportunities along the development and module system lifecycle. 

Anything specific that stood out?

I believe the interviews with industry specialists have been really well done and valuable. Our ECO2VehicleDesign centre partners have been really helpful and generous to provide Lina and Linda with insights into their innovation processes. We at Modular Management gain a lot of insight on the role of corporate strategy and product planning when evaluating and guiding the creation of module systems in our engagements with clients. This study was a great example of the complimentary value of our research network: to discuss challenges and the innovation process with industry experts in open and unconditional conversations and structured in a broader context of the innovation process.

How are Modular management involved in KTH’s research center ECO2VehicleDesign.

Colin: ECO2 is a quite unique research center. Like I said about the interviews, the center enable to share and compare future challenges, gain insight from research across rail and road, small and large companies, at detailed technical practical as well as industry level, with academia, research labs, SMEs and even competing OEMs. That is really great. This is actually precisely the culture in which innovations are spawn and images of the future can provide structure to the conversation and diversity of perspectives. Modular Management acts as a sounding board for all of ECO2 research as a member of the center coordination group, but also conducts and shares its own research together  with some of  center partners and gaining feedback from the full center community.

What is your learning and take-away from the report?

The study and report reinforces our belief in the need for structured sustained modelling of future needs and context to guide product and organizational innovation. We believe both exploratory and normative scenarios can act as communication and evaluation platforms for the modularization options at our clients. Before, in early phases, during implementation and along the module system lifecycle. We see the need and challenges to connect corporate strategy with design realization in each of our engagements, not just vehicle industries. Innovative strategies emerge both at the top and bottom of organizations.

How will this be used at Modular Management going forward?

This is the really exciting part: how will we use this work? We are working on a next phase of this research aimed to combine the module system and scenario data to assess the robustness of a modular product system. We’ll look at both new (conceptual) and existing (current) product systems, to guide product planners, strategists and designers in strategic and design opportunities and challenges as the future unfolds.

Thank you Lina & Linda for a fantastic job and we highly recommend you all to read their full report.  You can download it below and we will send it to you.


MB Collaborations Joins Modular Management


More Advantages for Your Product Architecture

MB Collaborations has joined Modular Management. Together we can provide even better support for the development of your modular product architecture.

Modular Management is the world’s leading consultancy for the creation and governance of modular and configurable product architectures. Let’s look at the added value this means for you, not least in terms of:
  • Linking corporate strategy to products and business results
  • Providing business cases for modularization, including complexity costs
  • Identifying customer needs and market segments as a prerequisite for your modular product strategy
  • Connecting your organization with configurable product architectures that are documented and optimized with PALMA® software.
Here you’ll find the MB Collaborations blog, including additional topics related to modularization, configuration and how to accelerate value creation.

World's Leading Consultancy in Modularization and Configuration

Modular Management has its roots in Stockholm, Sweden, and is internationally recognized as market leader for the development and governance of modular and configurable product architectures.

Founded in 1996, the company has branches in Germany, Japan, Sweden and the United States, and has successfully completed more than 120 modularization and configuration projects in industries ranging from manufacturing, household appliances, transport, power, construction and telecom.

In addition to physical products, modularization is equally applicable to software and services. For example, Modular Management has experience in housing, including the configuration logic for interior design and service concepts for insurance, leasing and financing.

MB Collaborations has had contact with Modular Management for a long time and the collaboration agreement was formalized in December 2019. This means more clients in Germany can now access world-leading experience and expertise, including the 20 methods and 70 tools supported by PALMA® software.

Most executives are aware of the need for modularization. In practice, however, corporate strategy is often vaguely linked – if at all – to the products that drive results.

Markus Lotz, Dr.-Ing.
Managing Director, Modular Management Germany

Everything Needs to be Connected – Including Corporate Strategy, Products and Results

In response to the challenges and opportunities presented by globalization, most executives are aware of the need for modularization. In practice, however, corporate strategy is often vaguely linked – if at all – to the products that drive results.

While there are many instruments, tools and KPIs for governing corporate strategy, a strong link to product development programs is often missing. If the contribution of modular products to corporate strategy is unknown, control over modularization programs is limited and it’s hard to govern product development.

How can this be remedied?

In order to build a bridge between strategy, products and results, the strategic goals of an organization can be broken down into three axes: operational excellence, customer intimacy and product leadership.

First step is to assign strategic goals and KPIs to each axis.

Next, look at the contribution of a modular product architecture to strategic corporate goals and quantify this to ensure that your architecture is profitable.

More insight into strategic goals is available here.

Calculate the Potential of Modularization – Quantify Direct and Indirect Costs

For product development to be profitable, you have to calculate direct and indirect costs.

Theoreticians sometimes claim that the advantages of a modular system cannot be quantified or calculated, but this is not the case. In practice, calculation is both possible and necessary.

In addition to a well-founded method for calculating complexity costs, it takes an experienced hand to ensure that the expected benefits of a product architecture are realized.

The Modular Strategy and Potential Analysis (MASP™) has been developed and continuously improved by Modular Management since the 1990’s. MSAP reveals how you can save on direct and indirect costs, improve delivery times and increase sales in the specific context of your business.

Companies in German-speaking countries tend to focus more on cost. Improved modular products, however, also have significant positive effects in terms of sales. Top-line benefits are driven, for example, by new releases, more variants and improved time to market.

A detailed analysis provides the decision support needed for how to develop your product architecture; clarifying, for example, how many variants (including components) represent the optimum number for your modular system and your markets?

Without a stable analysis, you could end up with a technical and functional modular system that does not deliver the expected benefits.

So why is a lack of analysis relatively common?

Experience suggests that it’s usually due to a lack of transparency on what drives direct and complexity costs. For example, expected savings in new product development are often outweighed by added costs in manufacturing or maintenance. Before you embark on improving your product assortment, make sure all costs are visible.


What do Customers Really Care About? Real Customer Needs are a Prerequisite for Your Product Strategy

A clear product strategy is a prerequisite for the development of a successful modular product architecture, and this strategy should be built on customer-oriented market analysis and segmentation. You need to understand challenges, tasks, applications and functionalities from the customer’s point of view and adapt a solution-neutral approach.

There is an overhanging risk, however, that engineering companies with a proud history of technical development specify solutions that are not in line with real customer needs, and this restricts innovation.

Despite marketing organizations and product managers, market analysis is often demographic- or behavior-based. And because modular product development is based on strategy – not adaptations or range extensions – customer-oriented market segmentation becomes a key success factor.

It is virtually impossible to successfully position different product models/variants if you and your development department are unaware of which customer values drive buying decisions. Understanding key product properties per segment is also necessary to avoid the over-specification of components.

If you are on top of your market segments, customer values and product properties, a modular product architecture can meet customer needs and secure profitability.


Connect Your Organization with the Right Software

Modularization is a means, not a goal, and product architecture development can only be successful if it’s based on strategy and firmly anchored in your entire organization. To achieve this you have to work cross-functionally and use data to drive development.

A large amount of information is generated in modularization projects – data that connects strategic goals to customer needs to module variants and product configurations. Profitability simulations are particularly important before you develop solutions and success depends upon your data model being up to date. With a stable, shared and updated data model you can connect your organization, govern architectures over their lifecycle and secure profitability.

PALMA® supports all the phases of modular product development, including market segmentation and customer needs, interface definition and variant optimization. You can also align technical and sales configurators thanks to a consistent configuration logic and share the information model with all other IT systems. Thanks to tried and tested APIs, PALMA® seamlessly connects to PDM/PLM, ERP and CPQ systems.

PALMA® is cloud-based strategic software for the creation, documentation, configuration and governance of modular product architectures – and PALMA® supports you regardless of modularization approach.

Modular Management and MB Collaborations look forward to supporting your product architecture development in 2020.

Markus Lotz

PALMA® Software

This is the world-class solution for product management.

Standing for Product Assortment Lifecycle Management, PALMA is cloud-based strategic software to create, document and govern modular product architectures. With this unique structured approach you can design and document product architectures. You can also connect enterprise systems and secure business goals.

Built on an in-memory database platform, PALMA is faster and more capable than anything else on the market, so you can create configuration rules without coding, govern product architecture life cycles and create a business advantage.

Full Stack Developer

Full Stack Developer


Full Stack Developer

Curious to find out more?

PALMA® Software is a cloud-based solution to create, document and govern modular product architectures. This strategic software enables companies to take control of their product architecture, govern customization and secure business goals.

PALMA is built on an in-memory NewSQL database and integrated web server. A high level of performance is required for rich and proprietary product information models, and we use the latest web technology to enable top performance for the end user. PALMA is a SaaS solution.

You’ll be working as part of the development team in central Stockholm. Since we’re growing, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to learn and influence how things are done. If you’re interested in delivering quality software services – well designed for usability, maintainability and stability – we are too. We also believe in staying ahead of the competition through innovation and excellence on all levels. This includes how we define and implement services; and how we support each other as individuals and as a team.

Skills and Experience?

Are you a full stack developer, junior or senior? 

This position could well suit you if you’re curious about – and have skills in – C#, .NET, .NET Core, JavaScript, HTML5, Polymer, web components, D3.js, HTML5 canvas, WebGL, WebAssembly, Rust, backend and database technologies, AWS or similar relevant technologies.

How to Apply?

Please e-mail your complete application with a (i) short cover letter and (ii) condensed CV, preferably not more than one page each, to jakob.asell@modularmanagement.com. Please apply as soon as you can, because we’ll be interviewing candidates continuously, and just contact me with any questions.


Companies across the globe have worked with Modular Management to create and apply market-driven modular product platforms, in industries as varied as home appliances, industrial products, telecom, and construction equipment.

By implementing this approach, clients have achieved dramatic improvements in business performance through increased speed and efficiency, while simultaneously expanding the breadth of products offered to the market.

Using proven methods and PALMA®, a unique product architecture lifecycle management software, we partner with client resources to deploy a set of innovative tools and structured processes. Together we uncover and exploit the economic potential of product architecture that lies within markets, products, technologies, operations and support systems.

Modular Management was founded 1996 in Stockholm.


Jakob Åsell


Tusen tack


1000 LinkedIn Followers

Many thanks to all of you who follow Modular Management on LinkedIn

One thousand followers is a record for us.

We believe that configurable product architectures are key to bridging strategy and results. Not only do they create value for customers, they help companies solve many challenges, including how to speed up innovation, connect people, data and products, and reduce complexity. Something worth sharing.

Our goal with LinkedIn is to publish relevant material reasonably often, not least regarding who we are, what we do and why we do it. It’s also a key channel for recruiting senior consultants and young professionals from around the world. Don’t hesitate to email if you’re curious to find out more about what a career at Modular Management looks like. 

Above all, LinkedIn is a channel for us to learn from you. So one thousand thanks, or tusen tack as we say in Swedish.

Leif Östling

Leif Östling Joins the Board


Leif Östling Joins the Board

Leif Östling

Leif Östling has joined the Board of Modular Management.

His former positions include Chairman of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, CEO of Scania Trucks, Member of Volkswagen AG Board of Management and advisor to Toyota Material Handling Group. Leif also holds advisory positions at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Morgan Stanley and is a Board Member at EQT, the Honorary Doctors’ Academy at Luleå University of Technology and Södertälje Science Park.

Leif Östling, Board Member, Modular Management Group

“This is an era of rapid change. Customers want individual, customized solutions and industry has to move from steel to sensors and services. We learnt at Scania that if you create and implement modular systems with standardized interfaces you can efficiently produce and configure products that meet unique customer demands. With modular digital systems you can harness data to satisfy customer needs and modularity gets your organization, products and customers working more closely together to drive development of your business model. Modular Management is a company that supports international clients do just this and I’m happy to be joining the Board.”

Karl-Johan Linghede, CEO, Modular Management Group

“We’re very pleased that Leif is joining our Board. Leif has extensive experience of leading international companies that utilize modular product architectures as a competitive advantage and this will further support the development of Modular Management. With his unique knowledge, industry insight, breadth and depth of experience and extensive network, Leif will provide great value for Modular Management and our clients.”

Modular Management in Brief

Based in Stockholm, Modular Management is a world leading consultancy in modularity and configuration. Thanks to modular product architectures, clients can increase productivity, speed up the delivery of new products and customize their offering all at the same time.

With 100+ successful cases in sectors including home appliances, transport, power supply, construction equipment and telecom, Modular Management is internationally regarded as market leader in modularity and configuration design.


New CEO for Modular Management


New CEO for Modular Management


Karl-Johan Linghede is the new CEO of Modular Management Group as of January 2018. Karl-Johan replaces company founder Alex von Yxkull, who becomes a working board member.

Modular Management, based in Stockholm, is a world-leading consulting firm in modularity and configuration.

Karl-Johan’s most recent position was Vice President and Head of Finance & Corporate Management at consulting firm Acando. He has extensive experience of driving and developing organizations with management consulting and effective digital solutions.

Prior to Acando, Karl-Johan worked at Scania with production development. His responsibilities included investments in production capacity, redefining productions flows and securing manufacturing for new products. He has also worked in USA and Canada for the family business in the concrete industry.

Modular Management in Brief

Modular Management is a world leading consultancy that makes the seemingly impossible possible. Thanks to modular product architectures, clients can increase productivity, speed up the delivery of new products and customize their offering all at the same time.

With more than 100 successful cases in sectors including home appliances, transport, power generation, construction equipment and telecom, Modular Management is internationally regarded as market leader within this field.

Karl-Johan Linghede, CEO, Modular Management Group:

“I’m really looking forward to getting to know Modular Management’s clients, international consultants and software team. We have unique know-how and the capacity to realize business value for our clients through modularization. And the track record to prove it. We now have the opportunity to accelerate service delivery and grow the advisory part of our business. At the same time we can take a position as a leading solution provider with PALMA®. This unique digital solution for product architecture data is built on a state-of-the-art platform that is faster and more capable than anything else available. I’m proud to join Modular Management and, together with my new colleagues, look forward to realizing the next steps in the growth of our company.”

Alex von Yxkull, Founder and Former CEO, Modular Management Group:

“As an investment in the future of Modular Management, the Board has been looking for a person that will strengthen our capabilities to grow. We’re therefore very excited to present Karl-Johan Linghede as new CEO. As for me, I’ll remain in the company as a working board member focusing on sales and partner relations.”