What method to use to innovate? And by the way, should we use a method?
In a recent post that was circulating on Linkedin , I answered the question about the relevance of entrepreneurship education with this opinion:
Innovation teaching makes it possible to ensure that questions are addressed in the right way and to acquire reflexes, but the challenge is not to learn out of the box, but rather by acting .... » My analysis is the same about methods. Method is a way to see more clearly and streamline decisions, but no method will replace the crucial execution ability to move from an idea to a project!
Methods as a support for execution
Let's take method as a support for the execution, a way to take a step back, structure ones’ information and rationalizing reflection and actions, by definition intuitive in a complex and uncertain context. A method, according to a dictionnary/collins, is a rational process of the mind to reach a knowledge or a demonstration of a truth [...] "..
There are many methods on the market, and their number expands in parallel to the rapidly growing number of innovative projects carried by any individual, and not only by exceptional "innovators" like Steve Jobs! Vianeo's core business is in fact focused on a specific innovation method, « Business Design » inspired by the ISMA360® method, but we believe and can say that no method holds the truth. Each method has a specific interest allowing to approach the specific issues of innovation from different angles and stakes.
In this article, we present the main methods currently used in an innovation context. The order in which we expose them corresponds to the path taken to move from an idea to the project. There is no aspect of prioritization between them. They are presented here, very quickly, from two angles: objective and results. For each, a rich literature exists and is accessible on the internet: we invite you to consult it.
We do not claim to exhaustively present innovation methods presented below. We have chosen the ones we witness the most frequent use on the market. If you feel that some are missing, we will be happy to exchange with you and find their place in this panorama. Furthermore, we have deliberately rejected certain approaches, such as effectuation or creativity because these are, from our point of view, rather a posture and a transversal mindset than methods in the sense from the definition quoted above. However, this does not diminish their effectiveness and relevance!
6 methods to innovate
THE CK METHOD: creativity to better define the idea / invention and its scope
CK method ( concept- knowledge) is a creativity method which formalizes the process of conceiving ideas, "unknown objects".
Goal:As a research result at Mines Telecom, it allows the synthesis between the space of creativity ( Creativity ) and the space of knowledge ( Knowledge ).
Result :It allows inventing or re-inventing innovative products / services while framing the thinking throughout the ideation process.
Source: understand the CK method
THE TRL METHOD: the validation of the idea/invention solidity
The TRL method (Technological Readiness Level ) is composed of a 9 levels scale allowing to locate the technology at its different stages of R & D: literature, concept, proof of concept, lab validation, demonstrator, prototype ...
Goal:It is interesting to evaluate the maturity of a technology for its financing in an R & D program.
Result:It provides an ability to analyze the technology solidity and thus rationalises the cost of financing according to its stage of development.
Source : understand TRL method
THE DESIGN THINKING METHOD : validation of unmet needs today by existing solutions
Design Thinking is an approach, initially developed at Stanford , centered on usage analysis and the continuous integration of these analyzes in the definition of solutions. Its implementation essentially uses techniques of observation, exploration and usage analysis in real situations.
Goal:: It allows to clearly define the outline of the problem to be solved, which will give rise to innovation. Design Thinking allows a process of usage analysis described through 5 main steps: define, imagine, synthesize, prototyping, testing , by the D- School of Stanford . Tim Brown of the IDEO design agency described it in terms of 3 steps: desirability, feasibility and viability.
Result :Design Thinking allows an approach combining both analytical and intuitive thinking. The implementation of a Design Thinking approach makes it possible to better anchor projects in the reality of usages.
Source: understand the Design Thinking Method
THE LEAN STARTUP METHOD: design of the offering deriving from the needs to satisfy
Described by Eric Ries in his book, the Lean Startup method recommends an iterative design process of the innovative offer based on 3 main steps: Learn , Build and Measure.
Goal:Inspired by agile software development practices, the goal is to rely on short design cycles to ensure that the effort to develop the offering will focus on the expectations of users for each function.
Result :The goal of setting up the Lean Startup methodology is to develop the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and avoid phantasmagorical offers!
Source : understand the Lean Startup method
THE BLUE OCEAN METHOD: identification of new areas of opportunity for one’s offerring
Blue Ocean method is an exploratory method to identify areas of need and usage that are not satisfied by existing solutions and current "non-clients"/potential customers of my offerring
Goal:It allows, from the analysis of a market perimeter and existing offers, to get out of a very competitive "red ocean" and to consider "a blue ocean" in which some features of one’s offer can be implemented with a high added value.
Result :The strategic canvas is a very operational and efficient deliverable of the work done with this method, allowing to immediately visualize the potential needs unsatisfied by the existing solutions. It allows to open one’s business to new fields of activity that are not currently our customers.
Source : understand the Blue Ocean method
THE BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS: the definition of the Business Model
Business model Canvas is a method based on an A4 canvas divided into 9 rectangles. It can adapt as much to innovative projects as to little innovative projects. LEAN STARTUP CANVAS is an adaptation of the canvas for startups.
Goal:It allows to describe in particular the core of the project activity, the operation of the "production plant" and its purpose in terms of customers value proposition.
Result:Largely distributed and used today, it offers an efficient and easily sharable support for synthesizing the informations that make the strength and consistency of a Business Model.
Source : understand Business Model Canvas method
THE BUSINESS DESIGN METHOD: the design of the market strategy
The Business Design Methodof Vianeo based on the ISMA360® method is a systemic strategic marketing method. It presents the 20 key variables on which the market strategy is based, and the relationships between them. The method will help the project owner to be guided by a structured thread to move from an idea to a relevant business model.
Goal:It allows the owner of an idea / innovation to explore its potential market: to become aware of key questions, to provide answers, to structure these answers to design a solid and coherent strategy.
Result :The owner validates the 5 proofs of value of his/her project: legitimacy, desirability, acceptability, feasibility and viability. From these solid foundations, she/he has the means to present and argue the business potential of his project.
Source : understand Business Design method
The methodological process of the BUSINESS DESIGN method is represented in the form of a hopscotch. Each color box represents a field to explore in order to acquire one of the proof of value. The process is not linear but iterative.
This method is the only one that allows, through its systemic approach, to have a complete and coherent view of the entire project, from the idea to its positioning on the market.
At each step, it may be interesting to use one or other of the methods presented above, to zoom in on a more specific issue that can be addressed in more detail by one of the methods.
To conclude and synthesize, we offer a representation of all these methods on the Business Design hopscotch.
Now it's up to you to choose the method that best suits the challenge your project is facing! Once again, there is no absolute truth, but each method brings relevant insights to better navigate through uncertainty.