Lean Enterprise’s Business Model

Lean Enterprise’s Business Model

 

You may have already heard about Lean Enterprise but, because it is a relatively new concept, you most likely haven’t yet.

What is Lean Enterprise?

Lean Enterprise Business Model - Baker MarketingIn short, Lean Enterprise is the Lean Startup approach adapted to large organisations. It has already been adopted by many large organisations such as GE, Toyota, the White House (about 4 years ago), NPOs  and many startups that became large such as Zappos.

 

How can Lean Enterprise be used?

Lean Enterprise can be used as the guide to an entirely new innovation program. However, since most large organisation already have an innovation program, Lean Enterprise can simply build on the existing program, improve it, make it more efficient and, over time, permeate the entire organisation with a culture of innovation.

Explaining Lean Enterprise

Explaining Lean Enterprise could be a very long process given that it touches all aspects of business and will take a very distinct flavor in each or the organisation that adopts it.

When entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs (folks responsible to make innovation happen in large organisations) want to explain their projects to me, I usually ask them to describe their business model.

Hence, I’m thinking that describing Lean Enterprise’s business model is will be a good way to explain this approach to manage innovation in large organisations succinctly.

Understanding Lean Startup first

Lean Startup approach - Baker MarketingIf you are unfamiliar with the Lean Startup approach then I suggest you brush up on it. Lean Enterprise requires a very good understanding of the underlying principles as well as the capability to run Lean Startup-type experiences.  There is an abundance of Lean Startup documentation online including the many Lean Startup related posts on this blog. Here is a sample of them that you can check out as a primer.

The Lean Enterprise Business Model

The image below (click to make it larger) is Baker Marketing’s version of what Lean Enterprise’s business model would look like. This version would not make for a good investors’ pitch but it’s also not its purpose.  Hopefully, this business model canvas will help you to understand, at a glance, what Lean Enterprise is all about.

The Lean Enterprise Business Model Canvas

Lean Enterprise's Business Model - Baker Marketing

Click for full view

Although this canvas is pretty straight forward, I will detail the Customer Segments and Value Proposition sections of the Lean Enterprise business model for better comprehension.

 Targeted Customer Segments

Lean Enterprise's Business Model - Baker MarketingThe Lean Enterprise innovation approach can be used is just about any large organisation that needs to innovate. The more disruptive the innovations it produces, the more gains it will get from the Lean Enterprise approach.

 

 

For profit organisations

This segment has the most straight forward application of Lean Enterprise for innovation purposes.

There are already dozens of large organisations incorporating Lean Enterprise in their existing innovation programs to make them more efficient. It is the case of such companies as Google, GE, Intuit, Toyota, Adobe, etc.

 

Non profit organisations

NPOs around the world all have a common pain; they are struggling to get enough resources to achieve their goals.

In many cases they are also faced with the task to innovate in order to keep being relevant to both their users and benefactors. Lean Enterprise helps them by ensuring that all the resources they do have are used as efficiently as possible when they innovate.

Lean Enterprise also helps large NPOs develop a more innovation-friendly culture.

 

Public and para-public organisations

Given that efficient use of resources is a basic principle in the application of Lean Enterprise, most public organisations could benefit from its implementation greatly. Government institutions are also in dire need of catching up to economies changing at the fastest pace ever in history.

The White House initiated the Healthcare.gov portal re-design in 2011 with a Lean Startup (not yet known as Lean Enterprise) team. The embryonic project was then taken over by CGI. When CGI was unable to deliver on time and on budget, the project was reverted to the Lean Startup team. The results they achieved were so spectacular that the White House eventually adopted Lean Enterprise for all of their innovative projects.  The approach also spread to other American government agencies and departments.

Aneesh Chopra, who was appointed CTO of the United States by Obama in 2009 (until 2012) was one of the catalysts in propagating the Lean Enterprise approach through the US government. [1]

 

 

Value Proposition

Lean Enterprise's Business Model - Baker MarketingThis is, in part, what a large organisation can expect to obtain with the implementation of a Lean Enterprise approach to innovation that their current program may not be bringing them.

 

Help innovate more efficiently

The efficiency is obtained in large part with the fact that an innovation project that is completed, within a Lean Enterprise-based innovation program, will necessarily answer the needs of its target customers/users. Hence a product/market fit or a service/user fit will be achieved every time.

Efficient use of resources (especially human) being an underlying principle of Lean Enterprise, it is therefore a constant preoccupation of the project participants.

 

Use existing resources more intensively

If you work in a large organisation, I am certain you are aware of either unused resources or resources not fully used that can be put to contribution in innovation projects. If not, I suggest you ask and snoop around. You will find some in no time. The infusion of entrepreneurial attitude, brought by Lean Enterprise, makes using these resources second nature.

 

Build on existing innovation programs/practices

Lean Enterprise is based on principles, tools and techniques borrowed from many existing and proven management theories such as:

  • Lean production
  • Customer development
  • Agile development
  • Design Thinking

Most innovation programs already make use of the principles, tools or techniques of some of these theories. Lean Startup implementation can ‘’surf’’ on these existing programs in an organisation and add to them.  This greatly flattens the learning curve and is more easily adopted.

Implementing a Lean Enterprise approach to innovation is like any other change management program. It must be done incrementally, ensuring all are onboard.

 

Increase speed to market of innovations

Lean Enterprise is based on rapid iteration testing of the various parts of a business model until you reach a product/market fit or service/user fit[2].

The approach has a built-in control mechanism to ensure innovation teams don’t go astray, lose focus or momentum.

 

Pivot quickly on ideas with no positive ROI

All of the products or services that get to market with a Lean Enterprise approach are successful. This, however, doesn’t mean that these successful products or services look anything like what was imagined initially.

Lean Enterprise does not prevent or fix product or service ideas that would flop in the market.  It does however quickly show which ideas need to be discarded thus avoiding the waste of resources to bringing them to market.  Luckily, most ideas simply need a few pivots (okay many pivots) to achieve success with their markets.

 

Better manage innovation financing risks

The use of innovation accounting in Lean Enterprise innovation programs allows for incremental financing with a known risk coefficient of each of the projects increments.

It bridges the gap between corporate innovators and financial managers.

You can read more about innovation accounting in these previous posts.

 

Creates innovation culture in the long run

The real prize, at the end of the journey of implementing Lean Enterprise, is the creation of a true culture of innovation.

Some of the most important barriers today in achieving a true organisation-wide culture of innovation are the following:

  • Mistakes are neither welcome nor tolerated
  • Resources (human, financial, physical, etc.) are kept in silos
  • Decision making power is diluted (with a heavy weight at the top of the pyramid)
  • Over-abundant and rigid processes that result in slow reactions to market changes

The Lean Enterprise approach to innovation, intrinsically, removes those barriers.

As any other change management program, Lean Enterprise takes time, effort and commitment. Commitment from the innovation project champions but also from top management. Although still in its infancy, the Lean Enterprise approach shows promise of integrating innovation into large organisation’s main stream of business instead of treating it like a special cousin, as it is now.

If you want to learn more about Lean Enterprise and its application, you can pre-order Eric Ries’ new book due out in the fall, called TheStartup Way.

If you have a Lean Startup Circle community in your area, you can contact the organisers to locate experienced coaches or attend their meetups and see how entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs can help each other innovate more efficiently.

[1] This hour-long talk with Aneesh Chopra explains how Lean Enterprise came to be in the US governement

[2] Characterised by a sharp increase in the sales or adoption growth for a sustained period.

My 2016 Best Reads on Marketing, Innovation and Lean Startup

My 2016 Best Reads on Marketing, Innovation and Lean Startup

It’s the end of the year already. It went by incredibly fast. This is the time to look back and identify what needs to be fixed. It’s also the time to be grateful for all that we were able to achieve.

One of the things I am always very grateful for is the knowledge I gain during the year. Important sources for the knowledge I pick up are the books and articles I read.

I have to admit that I didn’t have as much time to read this year as I got involved in many (maybe too many) projects. I did however manage to read some very good books on marketing, innovation and Lean Startup.

As I did last year, I am sharing with you some of the ones I especially liked.

Best Reads on Marketing

I didn’t keep up with all that is new in marketing this year. It’s nearly impossible to do so. I tuned in to a few webinars that helped me focus my readings.

I read mostly on mobile marketing (various aspects), influencer as well as community marketing. Community marketing is a strategy that isn’t as easy to implement as one might think. Here is a post I wrote on how to find a profitable community marketing partner.

HubSpot - Best reads 2016 -Baker MarketingAgain this year, I found that my most interesting marketing reads came from blog posts on mainly two sites; eMarketer and HubSpot

 

Growth Engines - Best reads 2016 -Baker MarketingSpeaking of HubSpot it is one of the case study in Sean Ellis’s book; Growth Engines: Case Studies of How today’s Most Successful Startups Unlock Extraordinary Growth.

Through ten case studies, including Yelp, Uber, LinkedIn and HubSpot, Ellis explains the different types of growth engines and the contexts in which they worked best for those companies.

Although I read Growth Engines to better understand a concept that is integral to Lean Startup, this book offers some very valuable marketing lessons. It also touches on growth hacking, a term coined by Ellis. It inspired me to write a post on what growth hacking is and isn’t.

UX Strategy - Best reads 2016 - Baker MarketingAnother book that I thoroughly enjoyed was UX Strategy by Jamie Levy. Having been a Product Manager at a time where UX was but one part of the job description, it was great to delve into the depths of UX strategy.

Whether you are starting a new venture to create the killer app, or trying to innovate in an existing small, medium or large business, this book is a must read before you start. It can help you define a winning value proposition. It also guides yourr competitive analysis and helps you see which features you need to focus on.

The book is an easy read and doesn’t require any prior knowledge on UX design or app development.

Best Reads on Innovation

I was invited to a university workshop on blockchain earlier this year. Given I knew nothing on the topic I figured that it would be a great opportunity to learn. Montreal, where Baker Marketing is located, is a hotbed for blockchain research and development. The workshop did teach me the basics of blockchain but left me wanting to know more (a lot more, this is exciting stuff and definitely a game changer) about how this new technology could be used.

Blockchain Revolution - Best reads 2016 - Baker MarketingOne of the researcher at the workshop suggested Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business and the World, by Don and Alex Tapscott. It was exactly what this non scientific reader needed. The Tapscotts explain the concept in very simple terms. They also explore a large number of applications for blockchain. They clearly show how significant a game changer this technology could be.

 

In Spring I also contributed to the organisation of the Montreal edition of the Intrapreneurship Conference.
During the conference one of the keynote speakers was Guillaume Hervé. Hervé is a veteran practitioner of intrapreneurship. He contributed to several corporate spinoffs in the aeronautics and health sectors. In case you are not familiar with the term, intrapreneurship is entrepreneurship adapted to large enterprise.

Winning at Intrapreneurship - Best reads 2016 - Baker MarketingIntrapreneurship is however not the same as entrepreneurship. These differences are the focus of Hervé’s book Winning at Intrapreneurship: 12 Labors to Overcome Corporate Culture and Achieve Startup Success.

Based on the 12 labors of Hercules, Winning at Intrapreneurship looks at the traps, pitfalls and myths of innovating in large businesses. Hervé saw them all in his career as an intrapreneur. He shares with us some tricks of the trade on how to avoid and debunk them. You can read more on this topic on the post I wrote titled Entrepreneurs as Corporate Innovators.

Best reads on Lean Startup

Leader's Guide - Best reads 2016 - Baker MarketingContinuing on the innovation in large business topic, Eric Ries published a second book this year. It’s titled the Leader’s Guide to Adopting Lean Startup at Scale.

First, Eric innovated in the way he published the book. He financed the book with a Kickstarter campaign. The backers were invited to join the Leader’s Guide community (managed by Mightybell). He used the community to test hypotheses about the content and cover of his book. Yep, he did it the Lean Startup way.

Unfortunately however, Eric only printed as many books as there were backers who pledged the sufficient amount. It isn’t available anywhere for purchase now that the Kickstarter campaign is over. You can however get a free digital copy if you know someone who invested in the campaign.

The Leader’s Guide is based on Eric’s experience (as well as that of some backers) on implementing Lean Startup in large corporations, like GE, and government organisations (like the White House).

I especially like the format of the book. Symbols are used in the margins throughout the chapters in order to quickly understand what the text pertains to. The coach’s Guide sections, for example, are about tips and subtleties in implementing the concepts.

It’s truly a guide that you will go to when implementing a Lean Startup approach to a large organisation.

Eric also announced that he will be publishing a third book next year. It’s tentative title is The Startup Way.

Scaling Lean - 2016 Best Reads - Baker MarketingWe were lucky to have another great Lean Startup practitioner write his second book this year.  Ash Maurya penned Scaling Lean: Mastering the Key Metrics for Startup Growth.

As a follow up to his first book, Running Lean, Ash is now looking at how to use metrics to scale your business once you have found the elusive product/market fit.

His rigorous approach to using key metrics to track your progress and focus your efforts has shown great results in many successful startups.

Grasshopper Herder - 2016 Best Reads - Baker MarketingFinally, I want to mention a website whose author consistently publishes great Lean Startup material. Tristan Kromer’s Grasshopper Herder is chalk full of Lean Startup ideas, tools and resources. Tristan was until recently one of the organisers of the San Francisco Lean Startup Circle.

If you are starting a new project and interested in putting Lean Startup into practice take a look at the series of posts on implementing Lean Startup. It is meant to guide you along your journey when you first start your project.

This concludes this year’s crop of my best reads on marketing, innovation and Lean Startup. Maybe some of them will become your favorites.

Thank you for taking the time to read Techno Marketing this year. I hope you take some time off during the holidays to rest and replenish, as we will.

Baker Marketing offers you its best wishes for the holidays. May 2017 be filled with health, serenity and lots of successful projects.
Happy Holidays from Baker Marketing

Lean Startup during the ideation stage

Lean Startup during the ideation stage

This is the second post of a series that will try to show how Lean Startup can be useful at various stages of an organisation’s life. The inspiration comes from entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs I have worked with throughout my career, including myself, who wasted way too much of their time on projects that never reached the market.

The very first stage of any start-up is the ideation stage. This is the stage when you will come up with, what you think, is a solution to answer a need you perceive to be present in the market.

Lean Startup - Decision - Baker MarketingShould I embark on a start-up project?

Just before your ideation stage, or during, you will have reflected on whether or not to embark on a start-up project.

The context you are in at the time will vary but it is important as it most often will be a defining factor of your motivation.

Given this isn’t a post on entrepreneurial psychology; I won’t delve too much into motivation. I can however tell you that insufficient or wrong type of motivation is, by far, the most important reason for failure of a start-up in my observations.

Very few types of businesses can be developed or managed part-time. A start-up is rarely a part-time job. The only stages at which you can get away with doing it part time are the ideation and early customer discovery phase. After, it’s a round the clock activity where you only get a few hours of sleep and have no life outside of your project for a long while.  If you are at a very busy time of your life for years to come, you may want to reconsider the timing for starting a new venture.

A factor that is rarely a reason for a startup failure is that the project owner didn’t have the right entrepreneurial profile. [1]

I do believe that anyone can be an entrepreneur but not everyone is born one. I would make the analogy to a concert pianist. Some may be born great pianists but a majority of them become great only after tens of thousands of hours of practice, coaching and basically dedicating the majority of their life to it.

Of course, if you are tone deaf, don’t know how to read music and don’t have any of the discipline required to practice long hours daily, the road ahead may be a very long and hard one for you.

It should also be noted that there is a strong correlation between knowledge of the field your start-up is in and success in launching a company.

Hence, the more you know about your field and the more of the entrepreneurial aptitudes you possess, the ‘’easier’’ and faster your start-up journey will be. Otherwise, you simply need to accept that you will need a co-founder’s help and/or be working harder and longer at it.

Lean Startup approach - Baker MarketingThe Lean Startup approach

The ideation stage or concept stage is when you start thinking about not only your product/service idea but also the entire business model.

Even before you have anything other than you want to start a business figured out, you should talk about your idea with people around you.

You really need not worry your idea will get stolen (unless you are in an industrial environment and competitors are listening). I have often seen multiple entrepreneurs or teams work on very similar projects simultaneously. All of the times, they took very different paths along the way that resulted in very distinct businesses, when they persisted.

When talking to people you know about your business idea, listen to their impressions and feedback. Some of it will be helpful later on.  It will also get you used to handling the various reactions you can get when discussing your project.  Don’t worry about not always sounding coherent. It’s normal. Your mind is still not set at this point and it shouldn’t be.

Lean Canvas - Baker MarketingFirst Lean Startup tools

The very first work tool I recommend to lean startup students will vary according to their type of project and their experience answering the needs of their target market.

If your project is heavily IT based or it’s a first one for you in a fast moving market[2] you are unfamiliar with, I recommend using the Lean Canvas.  The Lean Canvas will help you focus on what is the problem you are trying to solve and notions such as metrics. It will force you to explain what makes you better than the, likely, dozen or more competitors out there. A second step would then be to work on the business model canvas. It is important that you follow the recommended path to fill out the canvases. You first start with your customer segments and follow with either the problem you are trying to solve or the value proposition.  Notice that the solution is NOT the starting point.

If you already have a few years experience answering the needs of the market you are aiming for, or your project is not addressing a fast moving market, I suggest going directly to the business model canvas.

The business model canvas will allow you a deeper dive into your value proposition as well as the elements that will impact your cost and revenue structures.

The following resources to help you fill out both the lean and business model canvas.

There are literally thousands of texts and videos available on the web to help you fill your canvases. A simple Google search will lead you to them.

Lean Startup - Financial model - Baker MarketingDo your math

Although it is still too early for you to have a good idea of all of your costs and revenues, create a rough version of your income statement either in an Excel spreadsheet or with the help of an application such as Budgeto.

The purpose of this exercise is in no way shape or form to get to reliable net revenue projections. Any numbers you will produce at this point in time for your project are not worth the paper they are written on.

The objective of doing this rough draft of your financials is to get an idea of what parts of your business generate the larger costs and how exactly the money flows in. You can do some sensitivity analysis with fictional numbers and understand how various choices of business model components (like suppliers, distributors, pricing strategies, etc.) will impact your profitability.

The more you play with your financial model, the better the understanding you will get of what business model scenarios make financial sense and the ones that don’t.

Our next post in this series will look at the customer discovery phase of your project. It will take for granted that you have mulled your idea over thoroughly, have gotten some informal outside feedback, and are now confident about a first version of your business model.

[1] Some accelerator programs, owned by venture capital firms, will request a personality test before accepting you. That is because they are not willing to wait for anyone to develop those traits. Doing so would entail higher risks and longer return periods for them. Failing their entrance test doesn’t mean that you cannot be an entrepreneur.

[2] By fast I mean having significant market shifts happen within 6-9 months.

Using Lean Startup – Introduction

Using Lean Startup – Introduction

This post is the first of a series that will try to show how Lean Startup can be useful at various stages of an organisation’s life. My inspiration  comes from entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs I have worked with throughout my career, who have wasted way too much of their time on projects that never reached the market.

This and following posts don’t, in any way shape or form, pretend to be the recipe to a successful startup or project. Hopefully, however, they will give entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs a new outlook on management, new ideas and new tools to help them achieve their goals.

What is Lean Startup - Baker MarketingWhat is Lean Startup?

I have often referred to Lean Startup as a tool box but it is so much more than that. Lean Startup:

  • Gives you a way to look at problems and questions that always keeps in mind the raison d’être of your organisation
  • Helps you to prevent wasting your time developing products or services that no one wants or is willing to pay for
  • Exposes you to management tools and processes adapted to extreme market uncertainty
  • Brings structure and discipline during chaotic times hence reducing some of the risks
  • Creates a culture that enables the real power of any organisation; maximising the use of the brain power and creativity of internal and external resources
  • Introduces you into a community of people whose mindset is to help one another.

In my observations these last two elements, although not the better known ones in Lean Startup, are the most powerful ones.

Understanding the basics of Lean Startup is necessary if you wish to apply it in your organisation. This series will not spend much time explaining them, instead focusing on the practice of Lean Startup.  Hence I am sharing with you a short list of what I consider the best references to understand Lean Startup.  These are not even the tip of the iceberg as to what can be found on the web. They are, however, sufficient to give you an excellent comprehension of the basics and more.

There are millions of other web references. Many of them are excellent.

If you are new to Lean Startup, I urge you to start with the references above.

Lean Startup is getting to be a bit like a holy book. Some read it and understand the concepts behind it and apply them well. Others read it, retain the words but don’t really understand the concepts behind them so they interpret it their own way, sometimes with disastrous results. Yet others still, haven’t even read the book, use the buzz words like MVP and pivot but have no clue as to what they really mean. Hence, always be critical of what you read on Lean Startup, even the posts on this blog.

Why Lean Startup is needed - Baker MarketingWhy we need Lean Startup

Organising the Montreal Lean Startup Circle, as well as working with entrepreneurs as a consultant, a coach and a mentor, has proven to me that when properly applied, Lean Startup has the potential to take a mediocre idea and evolve it into a lucrative business (figuratively in the case of NPOs). It will also show quickly when an idea is so bad (in the context of achieving your business goals) that it needs to die.

Current management models, which were created in a different era, are no longer suited or efficient in uncertain markets.  The astronomical failure rates of startups in North America and the incapacity of our large enterprises to innovate are proof.

It is time to think differently. It is time to act intelligently.

This series will examine how Lean Startup can be applied throughout the entire life cycle of an organisation.  Our next post will look at how Lean Startup can help during the ideation stage.

[1] In case you ever wondered, Ries is pronounced rice in Europe but Eric, who is American, pronounces his last name reess.

Is Innovation Accounting Going to Change the Way we Do Business?

Is Innovation Accounting Going to Change the Way we Do Business?

Have you ever presented (pitched) your disruptive business idea – one that had yet to be seen in the market – to a venture capitalist, a CFO or a gating committee? If so, you know you need to come prepared with a solid business plan (deck).

The one part of your plan your investor will be the most concerned with is the financial forecast. Detailing costs is usually not a problem. The part however that requires you to put your creative hat on is the revenue forecast.

Innovation - Baker MarketingWhen presenting this forecast, you can most likely do so with a straight face with the numbers for the first few months. You know very well, however, that any number past this time horizon is based on wishful thinking rather than any market facts. Market facts would require some kind of market history. The problem is that a disruptive innovation is, by definition, not found in the market. Hence, keeping a straight face in front of an investor requires serious acting talent on your part. Fearing that at any time you will be called out.

You can rest assured you won’t be called out. Why? Because your investor, if he or she has any experience at all with financing disruptive innovations, knows that the revenue numbers on your forecast in year 2 are probably less likely to be exact than the chance they have to win the jackpot with that lottery ticket they have in their wallet.

So why are investors and entrepreneurs still relying (or pretending to) on these financial forecasts to decide whether or not to invest in innovation projects? That is the question Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, asked himself.

As a serial entrepreneur he knew very well that forecasting sales revenue on an innovation project, never mind a disruptive one, with any accuracy was impossible until you achieved product/market fit (time when you have found the correct business model to generate consistent growth in your sales).

innovation accounting - Baker Marketing

He also understood that investors needed to be reassured that the money they poured in the project, before product/market fit occurred, was used to achieve it and not dilapidated.

Those of you who are not yet familiar with the Lean Startup methodology, it requires the owner of an innovative project to do a series of market experiments in order to validate the underlying assumptions of his or her business model until the model that generates the maximum long term revenue is found.

These experiments, when done rigorously, generate reliable metrics. These metrics are measured against a standard to validate (or invalidate) the assumptions.

A multitude of experiments, done in rapid iterations, are required to test the large number of assumptions on which are based any start-up or project. When an experiment shows that an underlying assumption is not proven, this part of the business model must be changed. Experiments are conducted until the optimal business model is found and then continue during the entire life of the project to constantly adapt the model to market changes.

 

What is Innovation Accounting?

innovation accounting - Baker MarketingInnovation accounting is defining, measuring and communicating the process of innovating either in the context of a start-up or a project in an established organisation.

Innovation accounting uses the data generated by the experiments to determine, at a point in time, the maximum value of a start-up or project. The experiments data feed an econometric model similar to the ones used to calculate the value of stock derivatives in the financial sector. The maximum value of the start-up or project at a given time can be used by investors (venture capitalist or CFOs) to gauge how much they will invest given the returns they are targeting.

Now that we understand the why and what of innovation accounting, in the second part of this post, we will dive into how innovation accounting is done.

Créativité et innovation : Edison avait raison

Créativité et innovation : Edison avait raison

Le génie créatif relève d’un pourcent d’inspiration et de 99% de transpiration.
Thomas Edison

Innovation est le mot fétiche des entrepreneurs et encore plus des investisseurs ces temps-ci.Rien de surprenant lorsqu’on sait que la totalité des licornes et des grandes entreprises qui dominent leurs marchés ont commercialisé au moins un produit service novateur au cours des dernières années.
L’innovation de rupture, celle qui mène vers les grands succès commerciaux, nait de la créativité des fondateurs et employés de l’entreprise.
Une entreprise peut-elle s’attendre à ce que tous ses employés soient créatifs et capables d’innovation de rupture? La réponse selon Kevin Ashton, un des pères de la RFID et auteur de How to Fly a Horse, est un oui retentissant.
Ashton a examiné les résultats de nombreuses expériences sociologiques, psychologiques et s’est attardé sur plusieurs exemples d’innovations pris à travers l’histoire de la science. Toutes ces données pointent indéniablement vers une même conclusion.
L’innovation est le résultat
d’une idée créative initiale certes mais d’abord et avant tout d’un travail acharné.
Une innovation est un produit ou service tangible qui découle d’une ou de plusieurs idées. Les idées initiales qui mènent à l’innovation ne sont pas toutes bonnes. En fait, les idées initiales reliées aux plus grandes innovations des derniers siècles étaient plutôt médiocres, voir même mauvaises.

Deux exemples de grands innovateurs

Innovation - Baker MarketingLes premières esquisses de la machine volante des frères Wright n’auraient jamais permis à leur avion de lever de terre. Leurs premiers prototypes, résultats de nombreuses ratées préalables qui ont demandé un travail colossal, étaient instables et dangereux dans les airs. Ce problème d’instabilité a failli mettre un terme au projet. Ce jusqu’à ce qu’un des frères retourne aux bases, observe le vol des oiseaux et comprenne comment stabiliser son engin. Encore là, il aura fallu de nombreux faux essais avant que leur avion puisse tenir dans les airs de façon sécuritaire.
Tesla Innovation - Baker MarketingPlus près de nous, Elon Musk, célèbre pour la création de la voiture électrique (entre autre), n’a pas produit une Tesla le lendemain du jour où l’idée lui traversa l’esprit.
Le cheminement de Tesla sur la route de l’adoption de la voiture électrique, qui soit dit en passant n’est pas encore rendue à destination, a été brutal. Musk a dû faire face à tant d’adversité qu’il a même songé à s’enlever la vie.

Les principales caractéristiques des grands créateurs

Ce qui distingue les auteurs d’innovations des auteurs de simples idées est leur persévérance et leur ouverture d’esprit.
La persévérance à travailler sans cesse à améliorer l’idée initiale, la persévérance face aux difficultés techniques et financières, aux critiques, voir même aux mesquineries, est ce qui distingue les grands innovateurs du commun des mortels
La seconde caractéristique des grands innovateurs est leur ouverture d’esprit.
Bien que les frères Wright et Elon Musk avaient/ont une confiance inébranlable dans leur projet, ils ne s’acharnent pas sur leurs idées. Ces hommes, qui n’ont pas la réputation d’être les patrons les plus faciles, sont tout de même reconnus pour accueillir très favorablement les gens qui mettent leurs idées au défi avec des preuves tangibles.
Lorsque les données empiriques démontrent que l’idée est mauvaise, ces grands innovateurs apprennent de leur erreur et bifurquent vers une autre voie rapidement. L’important est de faire progresser le projet, non pas d’avoir raison.
Les entrepreneurs et intrapreneures acharnés, disciplinés, ouverts d’esprit, qui travaillent de longues heures à leur projet ont toujours été et demeurent les plus grands innovateurs.

3 leçons pour les entreprises

Les entreprises qui désirent accroître leur taux d’innovation peuvent tirer de nombreuses leçons des conclusions d’Ashton, dont les 3 leçons suivantes :

  1. Encouragez la persévérance et le travail acharné sur une même idée (qui évoluera) plus agressivement que la génération d’idées multiples
  2. Pratiquez la patience et la tolérance à l’erreur.
    Laissez à vos employés le temps de développer leurs mauvaises idées. Ce dans la mesure où ils peuvent démontrer empiriquement que leur travail fait progresser le projet.
  3. Créez un environnement où la critique, basée sur des faits et des données (et non la critique libre), est non seulement acceptée mais encouragée.

Les gestionnaires intéressés à mettre en pratique ces leçons trouveront une méthodologie de gestion qui permet de développer les éléments nécessaires à une culture d’innovation dans l’approche Lean Startup.
Un prochain billet, toujours inspiré de l’œuvre de Kevin Ashton, traitera des mécanismes liés à l’inspiration et la créativité.