Establishing a culture of innovation: the 7 Keys to success
By FLORENCE HUSSENOT
With degrees in sociology and linguistics, a diploma from Sciences Po Paris and training in Créa-France methods, Florence Hussenot began her career with L’Oréal before going on to specialise in innovation research. Through her experience at Ipsos Insight Marque and then with Adwise — which she founded in 2003 – she has gained a mastery of the various stages of innovation projects and their associated techniques. She developed the comprehensive innovation support and co-creation tool Build & Share©.
ESTABLISHING A CULTURE OF INNOVATION: THE 7 KEYS TO SUCCESS
The richness and variety of the stories featured in this white paper resonate with our day-to-day experience of supporting innovation. We have identified seven key conditions for successfully establishing a culture of innovation:
1- It doesn’t always have to be perfect. While perfection is the goal, it must be seen as the fruit of a long, iterative process demanding openness (to criticism and to error), humility and responsiveness.
2- Successful innovation actions depend on good will within the organisation — but to establish this goodwill, it has to come from above, as it requires communication of a clear, coherent and coordinated vision within the company. Goodwill then has to be maintained by communication, in the form of genuine innovation storytelling.
3- Management must be able to frame the long process of innovation projects, which requires continuous mobilisation, meaning, coherence and immediate results (quick win), while ensuring the speedy resolution of any problems that arise. The person in charge of innovation projects has to know how to manage the dynamics: to give meaning to what is being done, to bounce back from failure, to create a positive internal climate and energy, to create expectations, to set the pace and to project future steps.
4- The head of innovation must have a methodological toolbox to address both conceptual and practical aspects. On the conceptual side: knowledge of project timelines, biases and risks as the basis for establishing well-structured protocols. On the practical side: knowledge of how to lead creative exercises, whether for brainstorming ideas or setting up a plan of action. Or the ability to make use of the latest creative digital tools enabling individual and group expression — anonymous or transparent, remotely or during a creativity session. He or she may also call on specialists.
5- The head of innovation must also accept the role of emotions in the criteria for success: By trusting emotions, it becomes possible to engage employees, who feel they are finally being listened to, and to find innovations that are inevitably more human and therefore more relevant for consumers. This means accepting that protocols for leading creative discussions don’t always have to be about talking around a table, where everyone falls back on their logical and rational reflexes and where the table is like a rampart behind which everyone feels protected. One must be willing to use one’s body, and to create left brain-right brain connections.
6- Throughout projects, the head of innovation must be able to involve people representing various profiles: engineers, designers, salespeople, customer relations managers — or even call on related services in possession of useful information, whether this comes from research or from feedback.
7- Lastly and I believe most importantly, it is necessary to integrate the customer or the user at different stages of development, and know the right questions to ask them. The right questions are determined by pre-analysing existing data. This is why the head of innovation has to be a “whole picture” kind of person, able to translate complex basic data into simple, operational results.
Agile innovation thus relies on common sense, communication and conviction, implemented in a way that transcends the company’s normative codes. The future looks bright!