When speaking about creativity and novel ideas, it is really often that people are enthusiastic and proactive. But are we lacking of good ideas?
Don’t fear to lack of ideas. You will always have tons of « good » ideas
Having creative and novel ideas is not an issue. Put 10 people in a room for 1 day with a good methodology (stay tuned on INNOWEO for that 😉 ) and I guaranty that they will come out with at least 5 to 10 concepts that worth to look closer.
Every brainstorming session will end with a few good ideas.
Why so few see the light of the day?
The main reason why so few ideas come to reality is the lack of empowerment and the lack of responsability.
Really often at the end of a brainstorming seesion, all team members goes back in their office and nothing happens. If no one is ready to take risks for the idea, it is quite normal that very few are actually realized.
As Innovation manager it is key for us to inverse this curve and make more ideas a reality. Don’t mess you up. It means that the organisation has to support your game.
Here are my tips to guaranty that ideas are at least studied and some be saved from the dark night they are heading to.
My 5 tips
Find ambassadors or champions (who will drive and support the projects, from top exec to project managers, via technicians.., your champs can be everywhere in your organisation).
Have team members (of your creativity workshop) engaged by setting a list of actions for each of them
Prove the value by communicating on good results
increase the number of participating people: the more people involved in saving ideas, the more ideas saved
Train your execs. Focus on value added and value creation to explain your execs how wonderful new ideas are. If you are successful, no more budget and resources issues 😉
Intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs are buzz words today. However letting your employees be entrepreneurs inside your company is not straight forward.
In lots of Corporate time is to wake up the internal start-upers and copy/paste the start-up dynamic and growth into the existing organisation. The « start-up » state-of-mind is seen as the holy grail of product development and the good way to invent the future and to innovate. Some companies think that it is a question of life or death as Uber is the new Devil within Corporate.
One characteristics of start-ups is the agility in the way that they can test, learn, modify very fast in order to find quickly the good product for the right customers and opposite. This entrepreneur state-of-mind is the secret of internal entrepreneur also called Intrapreneur.
How can we encourage such behaviour? How can we leverage on the energy?
First of all there is a problem of human resource. Do you have the right talents for this new shift within your company? Corporates are risks adverse so they hire people that are risks adverses. But Corporate as such talents hates risks. And we are talking all about that. taking risks, failing and bouncing… Focus should be made on delivery, inside and outside the organisation.
Kick your employees out of the wall
Entrepreneurs are creative people. How do they manage to be creative and find new ideas of products or services? Observation and connection are keys. Those guys are out, they observe, they look at things, they ask people. Creativity is really often the possibility to connect an existing concept with a need and manage to adapt it and fill the gap.
One should push employees out of the wall to encourage their creativity, open their minds and increase their creativity.
Too much experts
Your company is organised in order to have experts discussing of their technical points. It reminds me the quote for Einstein stating more or less that we will have the same solutions if we try to solve the problem the same way we ever did.
That’s about innovation, letting new things fertilize our minds and generating new ideas and new way to address one issue or one need.
So let your employees go out and get inspired by what is outside the company. Then brainstorm internally to get the best out of this. I have heard really often my colleagues or clients saying that « no our industry is different, it will never work here »… Well did they try already? hard enough? I am sure no. I am sure no because I ran several workshops of this kind with outstanding results in very different industries; Energy (of course, that’s my job) but also electronic, Insurance, banking…
Coworking is key and allow team to leverage their capabilities and results. So if you are trying to establish a culture of entrepreneurship within your organisation, don’t forget to plan co-working possibilities. Because finding the good resources, the good knowledge (connecting) within the company is a entrepreneur state-of-mind. Mixing temporarily (sometime for an hour) the people with different expertises will add so much value to your project.
Do you have your own office? Alone in a room. I do. That’s counter productive for innovation and coworking. Set coworking space: a fablab or innovation Lab, a meeting room transformed to be the Project’s place, an open office…
In a future article about #MyDigitalTransformationProject (follow this hashtag for more info) I will present you our dedicated office and what advantages it gives to the project.
What is an intrapreneur?
Someone who is curious, interested, open minded, an expert of nothing but good at everything, a continuous learner (on that point try to find out how much employees in your organisation are attending to MOOC… That’s a good sign), taking manageable risks, knowing how to learn from failure, enriching his/her knowledge with other experts, connecting the dots to make a new picture.
As an entrepreneurs your first job ever is to win a client. Your first clients are more important than the state of your product itself. Never forget that your clients are paying your bills, your salaries and giving you the opportunity to invest and develop your activity.
What is the most important when having your first clients?
Once you have your first clients your new job is to make them come back and buy again. It is really important that you realize recurring customers or supportive customers are the best way to secure your business.
Recurring customers are buyers coming back and buying, same or other stuffs.
Supportive customers are happy customers that are keen in supporting you and your business by giving you positive feedback and testimonials.
How do you find your recurring or supportive customers?
They will find you. Because your products provide them big values. However you have one important thing to do. Identify and connect to them, communicate and help them in their new unconscious task to promote your business. So you have to establish a relationship with your customers. You have plenty of solutions to do so. Social Media are of course one straight forward way to establish it. Phone calls, emails are « old fashioned » but still very efficient.
But the most important thing is to keep track of your relationships to be sure you will provide them with the right info at the right time and not bother them by too much contacts or no contact at all. To keep this trace of what are your interaction with your customers, especially in B2B business but also in B2C, be sure you have from the beginning of your activity a good tool to secure all the data. Those data are gold for you to track customer activities and relationships as well as providing them the right info, the right offer that will boost your business.
Use the right tool for your activity
To manage correctly your customers you need a tool. It is absolutely impossible to do it by hand. You can have access to a broad range of CRM tools, offline or online, at various price (from free to…).
As you start an activity please consider to use a free tool or at least its free version.
The most simple too is an Excel spreadsheet. However you will discover really fast that your excel file is not that easy to easy. I would advise you to use one of the online free tools. they are professional and well done. They can embedded a lot of additional functions which you also should check to make your choice. Take care to check the paid version capabilities as well as proposed plan to be sure that it will fit your needs if you need one day to go to the paid version. Nothing is more boring and stressing that migrating a CRM. The table below from Capterra, presents the main online CRM. This list is not complete and you should spend sometime on the net to be sure you have seen all available solution.
Spend sometime also to get into your CRM and configure it completely. CRM can do a lot of things for you so be sure to use those tools at their full power. It will provide you more value and free your time.
Consider also to integrate your CRM with a marketing platform to automate your marketing and client relationships (such as mailchimp or equivalent)
Those tools are the best way to manage your customers and be sure that not a single one is let aside when business is on the mood. However you should not spend too much time on it but on developing your business. So please automate as much as possible. Each CRM got his own automation and if you link it with a marketing platform you could just skyrocket.
Last tip, connect it using Zappier to establish actions on trigger. That’s the perfect way to have semi-automated actions done at the right time.
I personnaly used Zoho in connection with MailChimps and Zappier. It saves me lot of times and help really to develop my business and relationships in a good manner. However please choose your own tool and solutions to be sure it fits your needs and values.
Two ressources to discover those solutions:
Il y a un an nous avons installé un FabLab au sein de notre organisation. Après 1 an d’utilisation il est temps de partager les principales leçons de l’installation d’un tel espace dans un corporate.
Installation et mise en place
L’installation et la mise en place d’un tel espace n’est pas un gros challenge. Pour un budget relativement limité, une structure de bonne qualité peut être mise en place. [un autre article sur le sujet Creative workplace for a budget]. Nous avons mis en place un espace d’innovation plus qu’un FabLab pur et dur. L’option prise est d’avoir 2 espaces distincts mais complémentaires :
Un espace dit d’ « innovation » qui permet aux équipes de se retrouver dans un environnement différent favorisant l’innovation. Dans cet espace, les outils utilisés sont principalement des méthodes de créativité, le business model canva, du brainstorming, des ateliers de Design Thinking etc…
Un espace « maker » qui ressemble plus à un FabLab et équipé de matériel pouvant permettre de prototyper des concepts imaginés dans la partie « Innovation ».
Comment faire venir les personnes dans le Lab et comment les motiver à utiliser ces moyens qui sont forcément en rupture avec la culture d’entreprise ? Nous avons mis en place plusieurs actions pour embarquer les personnels dans cet outil.
La réalisation de démonstrateurs
Nous avons réalisé quelques démonstrateurs pour démontrer tout l’intérêt de venir prototyper au Lab ou imaginer les services et produits de demain. Pour cela nous avons mis en place des projets et des réalisations utilisant l’impression 3D et le prototypage électronique (sur base d’ARDUINO).
L’identification de « Champions »
Grâce à la communication interne réalisée sur le sujet, très rapidement des personnes sont venus spontanément utiliser l’outil. Parmi eux, des « champions » qui utilisent le Lab dans l’esprit et avec de bons résultats ont permis de mettre en avant de premiers projets et de communiquer sur des réalisations concrêtes.
La banalisation de l’utilisation de la partie « Innovation »
Un travail interne auprès des managers et des chefs de proejt nous a permis très rapidement d’utiliser de manière intensive la partie « innovation ». toutes les séances de créativité, tous les workshop de brainstorming, toutes les actions contenant une notion d’innovation ont été relocalisées dans le Lab. Cela a permis à de nombreuses personnes d’appréhender le lieu et ses possibilités.
Après un an d’utilisation, les résultats du Lab sont très positifs. Nous avons réalisés de nombreux MVP pour nos projets d’innovation, de nombreux workshops d’innovation se sont tenus dans les locaux du Lab. Cela a également ouvert la voie à l’expérimentation du Design Thinking et du Service Design. Un certain changement dans les méthodes de développement et dans les projets est en cours, accordant plus de place à l’innovation et aux actions innovantes. A noter la très bonne prise en main par les équipes opérationnelles de deux outils spécifiquement développé pour une utilisation dans le Lab (même si cela n’est pas une obligation) :
Le One Hour Problem Solving qui est une méthode de résolution de problème en équipe, visuelle et collaborative qui permet d’adresser un problème en une heure avec un plan d’action concret en output.
Le ui a été largement déployé dans nos équipes et qui profite du Lab via un Canva XXL
A Lab but more a physical space for innovation. Meaning not necessarily a FabLab but an innovation Lab.
Having an Innovation Lab instead of a FabLab only is much more powerful especially in corporate. It allows also to innovate on several aspect of the business including technical (with some « Fab » possibilities) and business with, just as we do at our Lab’In Lyon, the Business Model Canva and value proposition.
It gives also the possibilities to have « innovative » meeting: one can « relocate » a meeting in house. That’s a powerful way to change the state of mind of participants while staying at home.
At our Lab we have set two spaces that allow us to have on one side meetings, creativity sessions, Design thinking / service design workshop, business innovation sessions ect… and on the other side a FabLab with 3D printing capabilities, electronic mock-up capabilities, IoT and UX/UI prototyping. It gives very good results with a lot of MVP issued already this year, imagined on one side, made on the other one.
For a couple of months now I am testing the Strategyzer Business Model Design Space card deck.
It is a nicely quality printed car deck to help you make the point on what is going on on your business environment to prepare your business model innovation. It helps to understand the forces that act on your model, uncover trends, weaknesses and opportunities for a new and innovative business model.
This is not a tool to facilitate the business model canva itself but more to make the business model generation more reliable and innovative.
The goal is to map out physically around your business model canva all the forces that act on it. Thus, visually you have a representation of those forces around your business. Just as it is in real life.
The deck itself
Nicely printed on quality paper, it is composed of 5 categories of cards.
Each card is a set of questions that one should ask to the group. Each card has a title and a subtitle that allows understanding clearly the meaning and the aim of the card.
The “how-to” cards
Frankly speaking this is most of the time missing in the cards deck one can buy to facilitate workshop (see IDEO design cards). Those 6 cards explains you the goals of the workshop, how to implement it, the materials, the groupe, what outcome should be awaited and what are the possible next steps. Very valuable to start.
The “Industry force” family
Those cards aim to describe what is going on regarding the industry (competitors, new entrants, substitute, stakeholders…
The “market force” family
They address everything related to the market tectonic: issues, demand, segments, costs…
The “Key trends” family
Technology, regulations, society… are seen here
The “Macroeconomic” family
Those cards will focus more precisely on global market conditions, capital, commodities and resources etc….
For each family you have 4 cards on each topic with about 5 questions. Once you have answered all the questions you have a nice overview of the particular topic.
Reshaping the business model canva facilitation
I have used the deck to facilitate 3 pre-workshop so far, mainly for small businesses (as pro bono facilitator). Unfortunately I have no pics of our very funny, very productive WS.
The deck opened my eyes about Business Model canva facilitation. Before I was jumping right ahead into the canva itself, neglecting in a way the entire environment in which the business was done. Even if we were pretending to take it into account, we weren’t. The visual display of the environment that allows the deck helps a lot during the business model making process itself. And some errors can thus be avoided.
Now I use a new process for Business Model Innovation:
All those workshops can be actually performed sequentially the same day, even during the same workshop. However I think it is important to have them all. I am still wondering if Actual BM workshop should be after the Environment one (please leave a comment if you have a proposition), however, the steps are here.
Having those workshops at different times and locations is of a huge interest and I really advise to do so. It helps people to fully think, aggregate and compile the data and the results of each WS in the meantime. That’s key and provide a lot of value if you plan a 30min “back-to-previous-results” slot at the beginning of the subsequent WS.
As usual, if you plan a Business Model Innovation, be sure that you work in detail and with a lot of care on the composition of the group. This is somehow the most important preparation step.
Any comments? Please feel free to leave a comment below of to contact me: email@example.com / @BaptisteLeSueur
Having your projects serving your strategy and allowing you to reach the global objectives is a basis for every company. However, we often see corporates which are struggling with unnecessary projects burning cash or not aligned projects consuming resources. this aims to a paradox: One doesn’t have enough money nor workforces to perform the really important projects within the organization.
Selecting the right projects to be done, arbitrating among them regarding to the available resources, budget and so with only one goal, serving the strategy and delivering what needed to succeed, that’s the goal of portfolio management.
Portfolio management has only one goal: ensuring the most out of the available resources with respect to the given strategy. It means identify and promote the most relevant projects, allow the resources, consolidate the forecast, and improve performance while managing the global risk of the portfolio. In that sense, PPM is a key task to be performed within an organization.
I am managing portfolios (mostly of innovative projects but also from operational projects) for more than 5 years now. I have changed portfolios one time and thus have been able to learn a lot about how to apply the good methods to achieve the best performance.
Running a portfolio is not an easy task and is a true management action. Arbitration, killing projects, re-allowing resources are the main task one perform each day.
Running a projects portfolio is the only way to insure that your strategy will be effectively applied by focusing on the awaited results with respect to this high level demand.
But is your company using PPM wisely?I found this infography on I think it orth the reading.
Need to boost your innovation initiative?
Need to deploy an effective way to gather ideas from your community?
Need to energize your team on the innovation side?
You have the idea to run an innovation challenge?
Running such a challenge is not a straight and easy things to do if you want to leverage all results and achieve a good outcome regarding both continuous improvement or disruptive innovation.
What is an Innovation challenge?
An innovation challenge is particular in the way that it has an end (a few weeks), it is focused on a topic and, most important and often forgotten, it is has dedidacted ressources to implement the ideas. The deliverables should be clear and precisely defined (xx ideas implemented…).
In that way, an Innovation Challenge should be run as a project.
Why running an Innovation Challenge?
3 main reasons can lead to an innovation challenge. Otherwise some other tools might be more suitable.
Want to solve specific problem and need ideas and insights
Want to aware people on a specific subject
Start your innovation initiative by a particular event.
Main steps to run an effective Innovation Challenge
Name the project manager
Define clear scope, duration and deliverables
Determine the topic of the challenge and verify that it is aligned with coprporate concerns and startegy
Define the wording of the question
Find implementation team, allow ressources
Define with mean will be used to set the challenge (dedicated software, sharepoint, email…)
Define the targeted peoples who will be able to take part to the challenge
Define a powerful and innovative (somehow funny) communication plan
Run your challenge.
Dont’t forget to clearly set to the audience what you are looking for (ideas? solutions? concepts?…)
Keep the power high by communicating regularly and encourage discussion and exchange
Review ideas, select the good ones and assign ressources (with a dedicated implematation plan)
Communicate the results
Key parameters of success
Run it as a project with all regarding attributes
Management support incl. possiblities to mobilize team, ressources and budget to implement slected ideas.
Have a clear duration, objectives and needs
Encourage engagement and organize events to energize it.
I have run more than 10 innovation challenges so far. Most of the last ones have been succes ful with more than 500 ideas submitted and more than 1M€ savings generated. Not speaking about new products under development…
The first ones were a disaster. No problem to say it. I have collected for a 3 months duration 5 ideas for my first challenge… Bad topic, bad communication, unclear problem to solve, too wide subject, not a single good practice. We wanted to do a wonderfull challenge but ended with a too wide and difficult to handle challenge. The employees simply didn’t understand the point.
Hopefully this first fail did not affect the future ones because it stayed relatively unknown and we managed to prove to the community that all means were present for the second one hich have been much more sucessful.
What are you main lessons learned for your Innovation Challenge?
Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach for process improvement. It delivers quality and offers a set of techniques to improve processes. But is it so rigorous that it stifles innovation? (Source : ProjectManagement.com – Six Sigma and Innovation)
Good question isn’t it?
The « wonderful » world of 6-sigma
6-Sigma is a very powerful tool that helps most of the organisation to perform better by allowing a performance enhancement. Going deep into the processes it definitely eradicate any waste of time or no value adding task. However is the 6-Sigma world so wonderful? (That’s an open question, leave a comment to answer)
The risks within 6-sigma
Of course 6-sigma is risky for innovation because everything seems to be so defined, so controlled that serendipity cannot happen. and serendipity is one root for innovation.
My practice of Innovation in a 6-sigma world
I leave in a 6-sigma world. More than a 6-sigma world actually. How can you innovate when processes, procedures and work instructions are so rigorous? Give the people a bit of fresh air. that’s all about it. define an innovation process that gives people the ability to act by themselves again and try new things. It is that simple. give them a bit of freedom back.
How to leverage 6-sigma to innovate.
I see one particular point where 6-sigma is of interest when speaking about innovation: bottom-up innovation or so-called « collective intelligence ». Those kind of initiative is really often backed by an « idea management system » which nothing but an idea or suggestion box. Frankly speaking this is not innovation the way I define it however it is some kind of, close to continuous improvement. As it is the most process driven tool of the innovation toolset, it is the area where 6-sigma helps the most. I have in my company a suggestion box that my innovation team is running. At the moment we are using 6-sigma tools to make our process more agile. Doing so, we are very focused on simplifying the process and making it clearer, softer, smother. That’s key. And 6-sigma has tools and is a tool for that and nothing else. One has to fight to avoid new or inadapted KPIs….
What is your opinion regarding 6-sigma and innovation? Leave a comment and let start to discuss.
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