Who said innovation was easy?

Written by Camille Romet, on 13 June 2019

Pierre Sinodinos recently explained to you, "Wanting to be innovative doesn't make sense!" Indeed, one can only create conditions for innovation. In this post, we offer you Camille and Vincent's firsthand experience with implementing innovation processes within organizations.

Today, everyone is seeking to innovate: to innovate to stay in the game, to transform, to retain talent.

We believe that innovation approaches are powerful tools for transforming people and accelerating operational projects.

By Camille ROMET and Vincent ROCCHISANI.

What does innovation evoke for you?

C.R: "Today, it's an overused term that means everything and nothing. Innovation is often confused with the evolution of the existing, so whenever we do something slightly different, we consider it innovative. What I've observed with our clients is that we can approach innovation through three lenses: technology, methodology, and usage. For me, innovation should be guided by usage because it's the only way to ensure that we develop sustainable solutions that make sense to users."

V.R: "However, technological or methodological approaches are useful for the innovation process. They often offer different and distinctive responses to the issues encountered. It is necessary to remember that innovation is primarily a means of addressing a problem for which we currently have no solution."

Skeptics talk about "POC factories" or showcases: what do you think?

V.R: "The trap of the POC factory is difficult to avoid when approaching innovation through technology. We often want to do too much, and few POCs make it to production. We must know how not to aim too high and not forget the reality of the company, both culturally and technically.

However, it is necessary to learn to fail, to make POCs that remain at the POC stage, because it is by experimenting that we learn. It's a matter of finding a balance."

C.R: "If we approach innovation from a methodological perspective, we often build a 'sexy' showcase from the outside, where we come to test new ways of doing things without necessarily having real subjects.

In both cases, these approaches quickly discourage participants because they rarely result in solutions in the hands of users or addressing real issues.

I believe that the 'right mix' is an approach that combines the exploration of solutions, the marketing aspect, necessary to motivate and engage employees, but also, and crucially, the acceleration of operational projects.

Innovation is not antithetical to 'RUN' or 'BUILD'; we can just as well use innovative approaches and methodologies to accelerate everyday projects. Moreover, these projects engage employees more strongly because they generate tangible ROI on operational projects."

How do you get started?

V.R: "An innovation approach must integrate very easily into the company's ecosystem. To start, there is no need for a physical space or the latest technology. It can take various forms in terms of mobilization, means, and tools."

C.R: "Engagement is the key to any successful digital transformation. Participating in a lab or an incubator should not consume 100% of one's time; it is necessary to keep a foot in operational reality to ensure that innovation is directed in the right direction. Moreover, one can accelerate an innovative project in a few months by participating three to four hours per week."

V.R: "Finally, the key is to adopt a device that engages both employees and their managers. If only one of these two populations participates, then the efforts will have been in vain because the structure will not move. Managers are all too often forgotten, even though an innovation approach will impact their work just as much or even more than for employees..."

How to succeed in an innovation approach?

CR: "It is necessary to understand and take into account the culture in which it is implemented. If I am in a company where employee initiative is quite low, it will be difficult to launch an intrapreneurial challenge out of the blue because it requires strong proactivity. It might be better to start with a more accessible innovation device, like a project accelerator. Once this consideration is made, it is necessary to choose the device and the methodological mix that will fit, then start experimenting.

The second is to innovate while taking into account the organization's constraints: organizational constraints, IT... in order to facilitate the adoption of new solutions and their industrialization within the organization."

V.R: "Constraints must be taken into account, but they should not become obstacles to innovation. A space of freedom must exist.

It is necessary to create the conditions for innovation through a realization framework that disregards certain processes while not pushing the limits too much.

The difficulty then is to find a balance between an approach that fits the company's culture, respects IT constraints, ... and a disruptive innovation approach with the existing.

To find this perfect balance, there is no secret or magic recipe, testing is needed!"

How do you foster innovation with your clients?

C.R: "At ANEO, our support takes place over a short period, it's an approach that allows us to go from an idea to an industrializable prototype between 3 to 6 months. We use collective intelligence and draw inspiration from new innovation methodologies (Design Thinking, Lean Startup, Agility...)"

V.R: "For each challenge, we build a specific approach with a cadence and methodology adapted to it. This means that if we have N subjects, we have N incubators that will feed each other but will also live their separate lives.

POC*= Proof of concept, a prototype that validates the concept of its solution.

Both Camille and Vincent have participated in setting up innovation processes with ANEO clients.