Innovation has become a cultural object
In our society, innovation has become a cultural achievement: addressing consumers in-depth expectations, it echoes functional, statutory, and hedonistic aspirations: some people talk about reenchantement, deriving from reality to access dream.
Are we talking here about filmmaking? No, that’s truly the approach demonstrated by innovation champion of the 2000 decade, Apple and its blockbusters: iPod, iPhone, iPad.
Design has taken a key role to inspire desire, facilitate interaction and strengthen differentiation, in a globalized world where competition knocks at your door: thanks to aesthetic and sensitive dimensions, beauty brings protection.
Technology can become obsolete: today’s broadband is tomorrow’s narrowband. Nokia knows about the harmful consequences of technological focus on his lost leadership in the smart phones area. While, as Kafka explains: “who keeps alive the ability to detect beauty does not get old”.
Artists are at the heart of multiple new innovation forms, such as “digital creation“, and transmedia storytelling as described by Henri Jenkins: media platforms capacity and usage combine to the story to create a more immersive and interactive experience, a “storyworld”.
Like culture, innovation is knowledge circulation
New design frameworks have been crafted: they observe day to day life, capture in-depth feelings, record dreams, desires and ideals of a time period. Tim Brown (Ideo) named it “design Thinking”, and we’ve heard about the Living Labs. Innovation is humanism driven.
C-K methodology is a way to create “unknown objects”, seeking for disruptive innovation, and sustainable differentiation.
Living innovation as a collective adventure is now required: at creation or development stages, or when seeking engagement from the company and its markets, the challenge is to manage the best access to know-how within the company and outside of its boundaries, and to streamline its integrate in innovation on the move: project team is here to ensure knowledge circulation in short cycles, as detailed by Ikujiro Nonaka in its “Rugby Approach” since 1986 and by Christophe Midler in “Twingo, l’Auto qui n’existait pas” in 1993.
Openness of the corporation towards external partners and suppliers (opening the labs) is modeled by Henry Chesbrough in 2002 in its “Open Innovation” framework. R&D laboratory can’t handle it alone: it does not master every technical and design skills that he has to acquire from the “innovation market”.
One also needs all sorts of processes, manufacturing, distributing, controlling, a multitude of relays stand to fill the gap between technology and market. The entire company has to commit into innovation, just like a movie is the result of the involvement and passion of all contributors credited.
Design “with”, rather than design “for”
We are familiar with innovation ecosystems nowadays : universities, R&D centers, technological platforms for exchanges, developers communities, the winning corporation is the one who manages optimal integration and attracts best skills and partnerships from outside. What would be the iPhone without the multitouch technology, coming from outside, the millions of AppStore applications, and the content available on its iTunes Store?
Innovation move to a collaborative design, open source and its millions of contributors being proven successes: Linux, Wikipedia, Mozilla.
It embraces co creation, involving customers in product design from idea generation to deliverables. It’s something that you find in transmedia storytelling where creators provide free space for participation in the story development.
“Design with, rather than for, open the door to cocreation, breath life into participatory aspects and rapid prototyping, and foster engagement on your innovation” claims story architect Lance Weiler.
By building an open collaborative platform instead of a finished design, you offer an area of freedom for creation, enabling internal or external development teams to build on your innovation, letting them bring on board your innovation intent, with the ownership to determine the final direction and finalize the end-user product.
Innovation carries acceptance: otherwise it stays on the shelf. Suggest an innovation intent through recomposable parts maybe more powerful than provide a finished design.
“To innovate is to change while remaining yourself”
To lead an innovation project, one needs to inspire trust, and have a strong faith in the first place. In “the knowledge creating company”, Nonaka recommends to find a metaphor and an analogy: metaphor is a symbol which drives imagination and starts creative processes, analogy is the next step which clarifies distinctions and solves inconsistency. Simon Sinek speaks of belief: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it: they buy what you believe”.
Innovation belief questions the corporate identity. If “Innovation is not denying the past” as Nietzsche said, it’s still the invention of a new model : innovation creates the new tradition. One had to go over the Minitel to roll out the Internet.
Then innovation meets culture twice, in the development of a renewed identity and in its collaborative approach: just like culture, innovation is never as strong as when it opens and connects.
Nicolas Bry is a Senior VP at Orange. He developed a strong experience in innovation management, creating digital business units with international challenge, and completed a professional thesis on rapid innovation at HEC Business School.