Les étapes clés pour une démarche d’innovation réussie

The key stages of a successful innovation process

Author: Syrine Cassagne

Webmarketing manager - Ixiade 

Creation & launch of an innovation project

Reading time: 6 min

Neither committed entrepreneurs nor project leaders (individual or within strcutured companies) will tell you otherwise: conducting an innovation project is not always easy. However; innovation is omnipresent today, thanks to a context that is favourable to it, notably marked by the uncertainties and major challenges around environmental issues. Policies are also more and more focused on innovation and invest in the development of industrial competitiveness and future technologies in order to better understand, better live and better produce. (cf. Plan de relance France 2030). The way in which innovation is approached has also evolved, with less and less "techno push" / "techno centric" approaches and more and more thinking for and with users. And as taking into account the user experience (UX) is the best way to achieve success in innovation, we will detail here the key stages of a successful innovation project.

Step 1 : Think your concept with user-centred view

The reasons for innovation and the objectives pursued can be varied: diversification of activities, expansion of the product or service portfolio, search for growth levers, response to significant trends or new expectations expressed by the market, etc..., the reasons are not lacking. Howeve, it is not always easy to find the right idea for an innovative solution, that is both diffentiating and designed for it users. To this end, the ideation and concretisation phases are essential for starting an innovation project. The key here is to approach these initial phases with a view centred on the future users of the innovation.

This first stage of ideation aims to generate a maximum number of possible solutions through creativity methodologies. Although " brainstorming " is the best known and the most used, it has many limits: creative detours are the most appropriate methods for generating differentiating ideas. These creativity detours are generally based on the principles of idea association (to force the meeting of stimuli from different envrionments) and problem solving, while at the same time unlocking mental inertia (the fact of being locked into a vocabulary and a system a thought specific to a domain, technical for example). Known methods include: the TRIZ method , which stimulates creativity with tools for unlocking mental inertia, the CPS method (Creative Problem Solving), which uses phases of divergence and then convergence to respond to creative challenges, or also the C-K theory, which puts the concept and knowledege in interaction so that they mutually enrich each other. These methods, in additions to generating a large number of potential ideas, make it possible to identify the most meaningful ones for the users. At this stage, tools such as illustrated idea books (associating sketches with the ideas generated) are effective in order to sort out and anticipated the next stages of formalisation. As for the development of the concept and its materialisation, the ideal is to mobilise design expertise focused on UX to design, model and prototype your futurer innovative product or service.

Step 2 : Give your innovation a unique place

In parallel to the definition of the concept and in line with the innovation strategy, it is essential to formulate an attractive positioning for your innovative product or service. If it is the role of an innovation to offer differentiating and credible elements to encourage its adoption, positioning is not a coincidence. It is a question of anticipating how you want your innovation to be perceived by the market. This stage deserves real reflection and collaborative work so that positioning can then be the driving force behind appropriate communication and an effective marketing strategy.

In marketing,the term "positioning" is widely used, but is rather understood as a means og guiding the " marketing mix " and identifying the place of one's product or service in its competitive. In the context of an innovation process, the definition of positioning underlies several aspects and depends on serveral prior steps. As a first step, and in addition to defining your offer concept, you will need to define the profiles of your target (your " personae ") in particular through " personae sheets ". These sheets, which can take the form of identity cards of your typical targets, allow you to understand the aspirations, needs and concerns of your targets. It is the match between the characteristics of your targets, which will then guide you in creating a unique value proposition (UVP). And it is the determination of the attractiveness, difference and credibility factors of your innovation (which constitute the golden triangle of positioning) that will then allow you to formulate a clear and unique positioning.

Step 3: Showcase your innovation and communicate in an impactful way

Because an innovation project is rarely built on its own, one of the key stages of a successful approach is also to be able to communicate about its innovation even before it is developed and launched on the market. Whether to convince partners, investors or potential prospects, the communication of the innovation project must reflect the value proposition and its uniqueness in an understandable way. One of the methods to be used here is the use scenario, which allows you to depict the use of your innovative solution and to show how the target user will interact with it. To build a good usage scenario, you need to define the user problem to be solved and the key moments that will guide the story. Knowing how to tell the story of the use your innovation is not easy and the main challenge is to create an imaginary world that is sufficiently realistic and strong for your targets to project themselves into the use of your conceptTo this end, there are many methods and tricks: mobilising detailed contextual elements, defining the temporalities of the scenario, creating a storytelling that arouses mental imagery, marking the emotions of the protagonists, etc... On the practical side, it is recommended to mobilise expertise in storytelling, graphics et design, whether to identify the style of storytelling and illustration best suited to your project or for the technical production of one or more communication media. The video format, which is very popular today, is often the favoured format because it offers freats possibilities for bringing an innovation to life, whatever its degree of maturity, notably thanks to the incrustation of 3D modelling, trickery and cinomatographic special effects.

Step 4: Assess the true potential of your innovative product or service

After having formalized your concept, defined its positioning and showcased its future uses, the last step is to evaluate the market relevance of your innovation. We talk about user studies : Indeed, what better way to integrate UX into your project than to go meet your targets to get their perceptions, opinions and feelings? This is how the showcasing of your concept in a communicative format can also be used as an evaluation tool with your future users. If many types of studies exist, usage studies, because they are centered on the user, are the best way to determine the chances of success of your innovative product or service on a given market and thus to have the keys to maximize them. In order to carry out a usage study, it is possible to mobilize several methodologies such as the evaluation of the acceptability of your innovation, which allows you to analyse the capacity of users to project themseleves in the use of your innovative product or service. Acceptability analysis allow you to identify motivating factors (drivers of a good diffusion of your innovation on the market), success conditions (concrete improvrment paths) as well as obstacles to the use and adoption of your innovation (blocking criteria for users). Another key methodology: the assessment of desirability which allows you to analyse the emotional perceptions of your targets regarding your innovation. This methodology allows you to identify the emotions that will encourage the adoption of the innovative concept as well as the emotions that will block the success of the project. The interest of conducting a usage study in your innovative product or service will be perceived by your future users, to anticipate the risks of failure, to clarify your decision making, but also to orient and secure your developments and investments. Because in addition to the analysis and detemrination of the chances of success, the objective of these studies, which are carried out by experts, is to identify operational and strategic areas for improvement to ensure that the innovation will meet its market..
In conclusion, even if the objective of this article was to describe the ideal innovation process, each innovation paths remains uniqueThis mean building your own path and approaching these steps in the way that best suits the objectives and needs of the projects. The presentation of these stages also highlights a crucial element: the need to mobilize specific dedicated expertise. Calling on an external partner will allow you to take the necessary distance from your project, to avoid certain biases, to professionalize the innovation process, but also to ensure that you are on the right path to success !

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