Rapid Innovation Plan

2966578687 5af7607623pic courtesy Mot

I’m recycling some points from this article: http://nbry.wordpress.com/user-guide/ by Nicolas Bry, a senior VP at Orange Vallée, an Orange entity dedicated to rapid innovation (Orange Marketing Innovation Group).

I particularly like the central premise and whilst I recommend the article for a read, nothing should divert from the point that the final goal of rapid innovation is not to set-up a new entity apart: it’s to deliver continuously game-changing innovation in a faster way, without cutting down quality levels.The article builds on the central premise of Vijay Govindarajan that “Innovation cannot happen inside the performance engine, so it requires a dedicated innovation team. Every time you start a new innovation initiative — which the performance engine cannot do because of its limits of reach — you are essentially creating a startup company.

Nicolas’ brief at Orange was essentially that.

Though they have been successful particularly in identifying key areas for development as well as bringing some products to production, what has been more difficult to achieve is a streamlined cooperation with the core company; a clear selection of links to develop collaboration has been missed, as well as living connections with innovation decision makers and the support of a sponsor for the dedicated entity.

Nicolas is very candid and details their failings well

Specifically they were not very good at building an effective innovation management & methodology:
– innovation strategy and belief did not meet some concrete shared goals with our parent company;
– innovation portfolio management has not been very balanced between disruptive projects and quick wins, not very focused on a selected number of projects, and it did not show a clear intent that everyone could use as a basis for individual and team decisions;
– no innovation process pairing open innovation with design thinking, user involvement, fast integration, prototyping and testing capabilities as well as cross functional management, has been shared and implemented so as to define a relevant framework for all the innovation team.

However, building on this, he has developed a “Rapid innovation” model which is the part that I really liked.

He suggested a framework with main 3 guidelines:
1. creating a dedicated entity empowered for fast innovation: flexible, agile, open to new opportunities picked out from the “innovation market”;
2. “creative tension“: creative tension is a framework for creativity which leverages an agile organization and accelerates creation and development of new products and associated leadership platform. Culture of diversity, focus, specific goals (“narrowing the scope actually helps the team”), and knowledge circulation in short cycles are some key components of a creative tension framework;
3. aligning innovation strategy, by developing ongoing coordination with the core company, forging persistent connections between innovators and mainstream operations, cultivating communication and collaboration skills (“your team won’t work well in active competition with the rest of the organization”). Endorse some core co strategic priorities, so as to engage more fluently core co in new co innovations, following “a line of least resistance“.

Such a framework is set to be built in a 9 months timeline over three main stages: Create, Develop, Engage. It gets fairly lengthy and to my mind a bit ‘jargony’ as he details these steps, but there are some nice nuggets such as:

– check that boosting innovation is a strategic priority that has transformed in tangible objectives for core co (i25% of products sales have to come from new products, products which did not exist 5 years ago, was the objective set by 3M CEO; 50% of innovations has to include innovations coming from outside the company was targeted by P&G CEO); start expectations review: what are the needs of the CEO and other decision makers in the innovation field? S

– when recruiting T-shaped professionals (i.e at Ideo, any potential hire will be “lunched ” by 10 current staffers). Other precious tips are listed in “The Idiot’s Guide to Launching Successful Innovation Task Forces” by Mitch Ditkoff.

– Organize creative thinking; professionalize pre-development phase and ensure each project has defined what Guy Kawaski calls its mantra, or what we’ve seen as metaphor, analogy, and model (Ikijiro Nonaka), or belief (Simon Sinek).

– Use your license to kill: stop some projects that have been caught up by competition or some concepts that don’t transform in great customer experience. Share the reason why, and ensure everyone understands it’s the natural law of innovation, and prevent traumatism. As Gore, “The fabric of creativity”, claims: “Celebrate failure, don’t stigmatize it. When a project doesn’t work out and the team kills it, they celebrate with beer or champagne just as they would if it had been a success. Celebrating a failure encourages risk taking.“

– Reward and celebrate! At Ideo, produced trophies are presented at project completion ceremonies. These time sharing are also opportunities for project leaders to search for released people  interested in coming to help.

I recommend the article for a read but nothing should divert from the point that the final goal of rapid innovation is not to set-up a new entity apart: it’s to deliver continuously game-changing innovation in a faster way, without cutting down quality levels.

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