The Learning Innovator – part 3

We have recalled some learning organization concepts and analyzed 3 innovation use cases in the wto previous posts (The learning innovator – parts 2 and 3). I would like now to unfold a draft “learning innovator’s” role, and the  way he could follow to modern innovation.

The learning innovator

Connecting the dots across experiences, continuously listen, learn and facilitate the learning of all members of the innovation team, so as to transform and develop the design potential to the full: this is the tough task of the “learning innovator”!

Seldom will an organization excel in all knowledge management competencies (listen, learn, and facilitate learning), and neither will it benefit constantly from fair winds: the leading tip might well be to start from the situation potential, identifying the drivers that will bring the design one step further, in term of creation, development, and engagement. Rather than an heroic battle with a lone hero, my feeling is that innovation is a day to day learning and fast knowledge circulation in a shifting lanscape.

Innovation achievement is one important thing, learning how to innovate, becoming an innovation expert, is another rewarding path!

Modern innovation management

Gilles Garel presented recently its Chair of Innovation Management at CNAM in a brilliant and passionate speech.

I have picked up 4 principles of modern innovation management he develops as they mirror notably the case studies and the learning innovator role we have  discussed:

  1. Think about concept and knowledge, creativity and science (C-K) together.
  2. Assess what you are doing while you are doing it: innovation is not just R&D. It involves the re-use of pre-existing concepts; you must understand how to evaluate the experience you are creating, there is a role of pollenization and facilitation involved in the acceptance of innovation that must be properly rewarded.
  3. Organize a broad-based, unlikely and intelligent group: innovation is not restricted to transfunctional organizations, to the Director of Innovation or to intrapreneurs. Instead, a whole set of competences must be mobilized: concept and knowledge promoters, minds capable of interpreting meanings; intelligence is everywhere, in human beings as well as in intelligent interactive objects; it is a network that embraces everything and everyone; and that reveals an important truth: do not entrust innovation to organizations that are not made for innovation! The organization must embrace paradoxical forms of leadership, tolerance and rigour, autocracy and openness, it evolves from a product-based logic to a system-oriented vision (how firms moved from being organized around products toward integration around ‘business systems’: Donald Schon)
  4. Represent and experiment: the paradigm of action must take precedence; “markets that do not exist cannot be analyzed” (Clayton Christensen), how can you know what I think before hearing what I say? Implement scenarios, depict, contextualize, develop prototypes, represent in order to anticipate behaviours: the idea of the Swatch was based on a drawing that took two hours to complete (see below); taking action prevents overlong reflection, judgements block the activity of innovation.”


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future of TV - Leading by InnovatingNicolas Bry is a Senior VP at Orange. He’s developed strong expertise in innovation management, creating digital business units with international challenges. He completed a professional thesis on rapid innovation at HEC Business School.

Nicolas Bry

Serial innovator, Nicolas has set up creative units for new business at Orange, Club-Internet, and SFR. Nicolas created crowd platform, Orange Studio for Intrapreneurs, and edits Open Innovation blog International speaker, entrepreneurs & startups coach, innovation teacher at Telecom ParisTech, HEC & CentraleSupélec, and freelance consultant (ECC). Follow him at @nicobry.




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