Building Bayer’s Playbook for the Next Generation of Health Innovation

  • Product Strategy
  • Service Design
  • Workshops

Bayer partnered with ADG to develop a comprehensive venture design playbook, guiding the strategic development of new products and services to revolutionize the future of healthcare.

Creating the Next Generation of Care

This is an unprecedented time in the healthcare industry: it is ripe for but also rife with innovation. To build the next generation of health products that not only innovate but captivate a global market takes an approach that’s as creative as it is strategic.

Bayer is no stranger to healthcare innovation. In its 150-year history, the Fortune 500 company has been a leader in healthcare and agriculture, working to overcome the challenges presented by a growing and aging global population. In 2019, the Bayer Group comprised 392 consolidated companies in 87 countries, with over 440M€ in annual sales.

A New Player in Health Innovation: Introducing Bayer Ventures

Recognizing a need for nimbleness to meet future market opportunities, Bayer formed Integrated Care Ventures—focused on developing new products and services in areas including preventative care, cancer care, and consumer health. Leveraging Bayer’s deep expertise, the fledgling Ventures team had run two product development sprints, and the results showed promise. However, Bayer’s expectations of the team were high: to regularly develop marketable products, opening new revenue streams valued in the hundreds of millions.

The best way to consistently deliver results? Build a consistent process that works. As leaders in venture and healthcare design, ADG joined Bayer to build the strategic process at the core of Integrated Care Ventures.

ADG created the Venture Design Playbook to strategically codify Bayer's process for creating groundbreaking health innovations.

Strategy: Defining a Clear Pathway to Innovation

With only six weeks to deliver on this ambitious goal, ADG jumped right in with the Bayer Ventures team. To build a solid strategic foundation, ADG applied targeted research methods and rapidly developed a contextual map of the business realities, personal needs, and broader systems surrounding the Ventures team.

After interviewing each of the team leaders, analyzing Bayer’s business systems, and conducting an audit of past projects and current processes, ADG synthesized research findings to deliver a comprehensive design plan.

To set Bayer Ventures up for success, ADG would:

Define the team

  • Help the new Ventures team define its DNA
  • Represent the Venture team’s values and value internally at Bayer, and beyond

Determine the process

  • Develop a clear, strategic, replicable design process for building successful healthcare innovations
  • Support the team to become venture design experts and avoid the common pitfalls of startups

Develop the business

  • Leverage Bayer’s unique expertise to develop ventures that open valuable new revenue streams
  • Create a solid foundation upon which Integrated Care Ventures—and Bayer itself—could build and thrive

ADG’s overall approach: facilitate the design of a universal Bayer Ventures Playbook to guide the development of new healthcare ventures, from scientific research to commercial success.

ADG applied user research and speculative design techniques to develop a Playbook that could deliver consistent results, helping Bayer build valuable new revenue streams.

Design: Developing a Collective Approach

ADG ran tight cycles of ideation, design, feedback and synthesis to rapidly produce drafts of the Playbook. The new Venture Playbook would only be as strong as the team behind it, so during these cycles it was essential for ADG to help the team come together to identify key elements and build consensus.

Insight informs ideas

Ensuring the Playbook process reflected the needs and ideas of every member of the Ventures team while building a sense of ownership, ADG conducted individual strategy sessions with the team’s diverse leaders. These sessions often surfaced unexpected insights; speaking with the Head of Business Design, for example, surfaced an effective method for applying behavioral science techniques to inform early product exploration.

Experience informs design

Integrating the team’s ideas, ADG pulled from the best of user-centered product design, speculative design, and business strategy to create a draft of the Ventures Playbook. While the specifics are confidential, at a high level the Playbook:

  • Split the venture design process into phases with clear timelines and outputs
  • Included essential exercises/questions/frames for every stage, and demonstrated how they built on each other week over week
  • Wove together multiple workflows—including research, business, design, finance, manufacturing and marketing—and integrated them with existing Bayer resources and workstreams
  • Leveraged Bayer’s unique advantages to build successful ventures, i.e. the ability to co-design with subject matter experts like physicians and scientists
ADG's Playbook included essential activities at each stage of the design process, building a toolkit the Ventures team could rely on every time they set out to create something new.

Feedback informs accuracy

After sharing the draft with the team, ADG captured targeted feedback to quickly identify any gaps, inaccuracies, and lingering questions about the Playbook process.

Synthesis informs results

ADG then synthesized and integrated multiple feedback sources, addressing issues and developing strategic compromises where needed, assembling a comprehensive plan set to deliver powerful results.

Facilitating strategic success

After two cycles of development, the Playbook design process culminated in a three day workshop ADG facilitated for the entire Ventures team. ADG led the team through each phase of the Playbook process, using structured exercises to efficiently review and confirm outputs, inputs, and deliverables at every stage.

To ensure all voices were heard while managing divergent viewpoints, ADG applied tools like Graeber’s Process of Consensus. Even soft-spoken team members had the confidence to speak up and identify issues, saving the team exponential time required to fix them down the line. The Ventures team left the workshop empowered, excited to have co-created this integral element of their business.

Following the workshop, ADG incorporated all essential conversations and conclusions, streamlined and refined the Playbook, and delivered the results to the VP of Integrated Care Ventures, Dr. Javier Palacios.


Built using ADG’s systemic approach to research, design, and facilitation, the new Ventures Playbook received an enthusiastic reception from Bayer. The Playbook was put into practice immediately by the Ventures team, and has since been applied to guide the design of multiple innovative healthcare products and services, some already nearing go-to-market stages.

ADG's exceptional design, facilitation and consulting talent united our team like never before. Thanks to their expertise, we've reimagined how we design new health ventures at Bayer."

Dr. Javier Garcia Palacios

VP & Head of Integrated Care Ventures

In partnership with ADG, Bayer has paved a clear path to the future of healthcare innovation.