The learning innovator (2/3)

We have reviewed some of the learning organization concepts, and a first case study in the previous post (The learning innovator 1/3). We go through two other innovation initiatives in this post, and come to  a few conclusions about the “modern innovator” in the last post.

2nd case study: belief, iterative prototyping, and engagement

Because customer experience was a disappointment in our previous innovation project, we focused our forces on mastering the design process, and ensured the design and development teams were working closely together along the process of our new assignment: designing a Smart TV.


The idea was to implement technically every graphical design as they were created, and monitor the performance of the TV platform : channel surfing and TV browsing should have immediate response time for the viewer.

Because TV has become so abundant in term of advanced services (Live TV, EPG, PVR, VoD, Catch-up TV, Mediaplayer) and even more with recent opportunities (Gaming, Web browsing, TV App Shop, Social TV apps), we cut the project in pieces, proceeding through iterative incremental prototypes.

Iterative prototyping is key to set-up a dialogue with customers. Design thinking, user lead innovation, transferring TV interfaces designed into technical coding to build a smart TV prototype as we moved forward, were a guarantee to adjust perfectly creative ideas with technical capabilities, consumer usages and social imaginaries: keep it simple … and sexy!

Completing short loop (3 to 4 months) of prototyping which output were shown to French and UK customers was clever to initiate a dialogue for customer: it’s actually easier to listen to customers and take feedbacks into account following a 3 months iteration than after a 18 months project.

In a nutshell (in-depth analysis here), the key words of this project were: Iterative Approach, Customer Experience Design, Belief, and Open Platform 

We had a strong belief in Openess to guide us through the sucessive stages, and keep the team together, establishing a framework for knowledge circulation: Openess meant for us the meeting of two worlds, Broadcast TV and the Web, and our hope and ambitious goal was to create something new from this junction, a awesome half-cast added-value TV experience! Openess also enticed from the very start a collaborative platform, enabling partners and developers to build value on top of our TV software.

Engaging mainstream operations and the market

So what could be improved? Well, as good as interaction design might be, one need to have it accepted by the rest of the company, and recruit the right ambassadors to drive the whole company and the market to engage. This part was partially completed.

To facilitate core company engagement, Learning #1 was then to stop fighting against the organization, and create necessity for change. The issue is to make the organization feel so uncomfortable that it decides on its own to move: Disatisfaction is an engine for change and can be nurtured by agents of change such as competition threat, business opportunity, deregulation, benchmark, customer feedback.

Learning #2 was to prepare acceptance upstream: developing ongoing coordination with mainstream business lines, forging persistent connections between innovators and core operations, cultivating communication and collaboration skills (“your team won’t work well in active competition with the rest of the organization”). Endorsing some core co strategic priorities (shared innovation portfolio), so as to engage it more fluently into innovation initiatives,  would draw “a line of least resistance“, reduce fear, and unleash risk culture.

Learning #3 dealt with optimizing market launch: the main principles have been raised in Marketing successfully your innovation and Leveraging on social media to market your innovation.

3rd case study: collaborative design, and stretched goals

After Social Network and Smart TV designs, it was natural to mix the two in a social TV service: connecting the dots!

And to bring lessons and experience from the past in the new design.

Thus, because last project was below expectations in term of engagement of the core co, I was craving to find a succesful path in this domain. This lead to adapt the rapid innovation model and stress on the engagement part: aligning innovation with mainstream operations expectations, and develop a creative approach, collaborative design.

Social TV was still up for grabs when we started to investigate. Following market analysis and brainstorming sessions, also meetings with some entrepreneurs and experts of the social and interactive TV ecosystem, we identified innovation paths, and defined 6 scenarios.

At this time, rather than goind to the next stage and transferring our ideas into sketches, and confronting them with customers, we liaised with players of the company in the field of digital TV.

To achieve acceptance, we wanted to find collectively a meaning to our innovation, and therefore to start an open dialogue with our corporate partners. The agenda was:

  • to understand which innovation scenario could fit best in their product development plan, help them grow fast their business, differentiate from competition, and increase customer loyalty;
  • to examine how we should refine the selected scenario, and transfer some ownership to our corporate partners, so that they could shape adjustements and present it the way they wanted in their consumer facing applications.

Listening to our privileged partners, we quite naturally turn to a reshaped approach based on collaborative design, “designing with rather than for”: instead of completing an end-user application, we focused our endeavor on a Social TV component.

What is a component? We stated it as an underlying enabling technology, which could be embedded in various consumer-facing apps and devices, letting others make value out of our data, accelerate their innovation path by building services on top of our platform through an API (application program interface).

Once our goal clarified, we established an innovation team, gathering internal and external skills through an open innovation framework, practicing “rugby” approach and progressing through iterative prototypes and releases. We also relied on competencies and motivation of the team members to compensate a measly budget allocation!

Innovation components, and stretched goals

Learning #1 was on the leverage brought by collaborative design:  open innovation and components acting as elementary particles of innovation were essential to suceed across the 3 design stages: creating, developing, and especially engaging.

Learning #2 was that stretched goals and limited budget forced us to narrow the scope, which actually helped us: being resource constrained required from us to be focused on the most impactful part of oour innovation; it forged connections between team members who came together to meet the challenge. To a certain extent, the more pressure we had, the more inventive we were to bring our vision to life.

The learning innovator – part 3 –>

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