nnovation is nothing new, it has always existed. Yet everyone talks about it. It has even become one of the most widely spread companies’ value. Why is it so urgent to innovate and what for?
“Everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it.” Originally used by Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics, to describe big data, this perfectly suits to innovation.
Pierre Giroud, Global Innovation Manager, shared the company’s vision of innovation with us.
“Innovation is not only about inventing something, it’s a whole process from the invention to the successful distribution of a new product or service that changes something in the life of people. When a group a people adopts it spontaneously, then it becomes an innovation.”
Everything starts from a fertile breeding: knowledge of activity’s field, competition survey, understanding of customer needs. Relevant ideas grow from this. You can not innovate in a field you do not accurately know.
Incremental versus disruptive innovation
Taking the example of automotive, the continuous improvements are about comfort, safety, performances. These are incremental innovations. On the other hand, jumping from the carriage to the car was a disruptive innovation : based on a brand new technology, it brought so many improvements that it swept the previous one based on horses.
Disruptive innovation is the most promising one in terms of sales revenue, company image and growth. But it’s also the most difficult one to adopt. Because it requires good ideas, which are not sufficient though. Disruption means calling into question company’s business model. Think about Kodak, leader in film rolls and inventor of the first digital camera, who did not manage to question its business model. For that reason, new actors, start-ups, are often the most innovative. But they are not the only ones which can seize everyday’s new opportunities : larger companies and groups can too! The issue with innovation is then to survive and thrive, remain or become a leader, or disappear.
Continuous improvement of current products and services does not garantee companies’ survival anymore. While being necessary, it will never prevent nor protect from new disruptions happening more and more often.
Based on that assessment, Crouzet decided to have it both ways. “We are even more ambitious. We intend pioneering innovations: create products and services matching today’s non satisfied needs. We will need some pugnacity to come to a profitable launch and associated growth. Because innovation paths are full of traps.”
An innovative methodology to provide fresh momentum
” We must inject an idea-generating energy into our company and support those ideas that can perhaps become an innovation.”
Crouzet chose to institutionalize creativity and pugnacity with a company project called MotiVation. Gathering people from most departments of the company, it all started with interviews from the ecosystem (partners, clients, prospects,…) to identify latent demands. Then, using the creative problem solving method, they brainstormed in creative sessions.
With the blue ocean method developped by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, they aimed at developping new fresh markets -the blue oceans- (by opposition to saturated higly-competitive markets, the red oceans).
Highly publicized internally and supported by the top management, the positive move inspired by MotiVation is very encouraging.
Crouzet has now come to the final selection of ideas and hopes to see this promising experiment transform their inventions into successful innovations confirmed by sales results.
Harvard Business Review, The Innovator’s DNA
Tribune d’Eric Delbecque & David Eberlé – L’innovation au service des pratiques et des usages : un défi encore à relever ! (French)