Jean-Yves Maurel is Corporate Innovation Director at Auchan Group, with the particularity of owning a double degree : Engineer Arts et Métiers ENSAM, and Marketing & Product Design at ENSAD.
He tells us about the amazing Creative Expedition process that has been going on for some time now at Auchan.
Context and objectives
Creative Expedition process is part of Auchan’s participative innovation plan called Creative Attitude, which has been rolled out over 4 countries, France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal, and covers 4 lines of business: ‘Hypermarket’ and ‘Superstore’ for retail, Banking, and Real Estate (related to shopping centres).
Thus, Auchan Group wishes to “strengthen the means for capturing new markets, inventing new services, developing new channels, new ways of selling… and news ways of working within the company”.
Creative Attitude collects ideas, filters them, and match idea’s owners with sponsors. Creative Expedition is a part of it: based on a selection of projects and project leaders profiles, a jury selects 15 ‘high potential’ idea owners, and invites them to spend one week in a learning expedition for innovation. They will work as well on the transformation of their project, in a start-up week-end mode. Project creator becomes a creative player, a ‘Creactor’!
Implementation is one of the key points for participative innovation. The idea owner often lacks a methodology to develop the initial idea, and the creative expedition is a way to balance this.
Creative Expedition framework
Concurrently, 15 senior executives are chosen to participate to the learning expedition week. They are involved in the projects transformation during the second part of the week: mixed teams made up of one senior executive and one idea owner will progress from concept to action plan.
It’s a mutual benefit. Creactor is shaking up the habits of the senior executive: it’s mind-blowing time!
Couples form naturally during the first part of the week. Projects have sufficient leeway, to let executive and idea owner move to a common new step, build a dedicated action plan, and weave a valuable link between the two.
The week starts with a pitch completed by the idea owner, and ends with a pitch handled by the team: creactor, senior executive, and students (see below).
Design Thinking Schools
Creative Expedition also build on collaboration with Design Thinking Schools, which send advanced students to participate: 2 students join each team of two, and work at school premises on the project development. It’s intensive! Mockup, get out on the streets, designing something concrete, the mission’s school is to shake up everyone, and bring a methodological framework with Design Thinking. Last year Creative Expedition took place at Berlin Design Akademie.
Creative projects tackle various domains:
- A Spanish project tells the story of meat cutting, shares the know-how of Auchan’s butchers in the matter, and brings reassurance on meat’s origin, all this through a QR code linking to a short movie online;
- A tapas bar in France lets you taste the things that you can buy: cheese, meats, etc… 2 modes: tasting and catering;
- In Portugal, a turnkey solution for parties, anniversaries, first communion, etc… a basic offer starting with a cake and adding several options like decoration, party animation, recovery of packaging, etc…
- One-time payment, by sending a code to the phone of your child, enabling him to pay, with payment guarantee.
We all know that the danger of participative innovation is to let the ideas disappear into oblivion.
From idea to implementation, participative innovation requires resilience along the way which can take one year to 18 months. But the team of two mixing executive and idea owner, and the framework of a design school during a learning expedition, are real boosters.
4 countries involved, various languages and occupations within the group, implies limitations to make it cut the mustard. Each country has been fostered to set-up creative expedition of his own, in their ecosystem, for the moment, In Spain and Portugal.
Around 7 creative expeditions have been completed in San Francisco, Stockholm, Amsterdam, and Berlin. The 2 last ones involved a design school: iterating the process allows to improve each time!