Case Study

Innolume’s growth strategy requires a culture shift

16 pages
December 2022
Reference: IMD-7-2370

The case tells the story of a strategic change and cultural shift at Innolume a start-up focused on unique laser production. George Gogolev, who represents the company’s investors, is attempting to move the company away from customized productions for niche applications to mass production for the datacom market. Innolume won the Prism award – the “Oscar” of the photonics industry – for a laser dedicated to data transmission. However, the company lacked clear market vision, financing, production methods, quality controls and product readiness level. Although George convinced the investors to support the turnaround, it became apparent that the company’s main challenge were cultural in nature. The Germany-based Innolume team consisted mainly of Russian scientists who were highly focused on R&D and technological excellence. At the same time, they lacked business development and were not customer-centric. The team was not supportive of the investors’ initiative and sabotaged the changes, triggering open conflict between the staff and the new management. It took a comprehensive change management process to bring the new strategy and the company culture into alignment, and get the team on board. Finally, the company got on the right track for mass production. However, there were still some challenges related to product readiness. The issue of time becomes critical, and Innolume needs to speed up to benefit from the window of opportunity for entering the datacom market.

Learning Objective
  • Describe how Innolume positions itself in the value constellations of laser production and application
  • Identify the needs of B2B customers by linking attributes to benefits and values
  • Assess two strategic options, the current portfolio approach and a radically different mass-production strategy
  • Describe and relate the different elements of McKinsey’s 7S framework (strategy, structure, systems, shared values, skills, style, staff) for a success strategy implementation
  • Synthesize the discussion by formulating elements of the desired culture
Business to Business, Human Resources, Culture, Turnaround, Change Management, Production Readiness, McKinsey 7S Framework, Venture Capital, Semiconductor, Laser Technology, Scale-up
Innolume, Materials, Semiconductors
Field Research
© 2022
Available Languages
Related material
Teaching note
Case clearing houses
IMD case studies are distributed through case clearing houses. In order to browse the collection and purchase copies please visit the links below.

The Case Centre

Cranfield University

Wharley End Beds MK43 0JR, UK
Tel +44 (0)1234 750903
Email [email protected]

Harvard Business School Publishing

60 Harvard Way, Boston MA 02163, USA
Tel (800) 545-7685 Tel (617)-783-7600
Fax (617) 783-7666
Email [email protected]

Asia Pacific Case Center

NUCB Business School

1-3-1 Nishiki Naka
Nagoya Aichi, Japan 460-0003
Tel +81 52 20 38 111
Email [email protected]


Research Information & Knowledge Hub for additional information on IMD publications

Discover our latest research
IMD's faculty and research teams publish articles, case studies, books and reports on a wide range of topics