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Parole d'experts / Management de l’innovation / Incremental Innovation: Reinventing the Wheel, Cont.

Incremental Innovation: Reinventing the Wheel, Cont.

Reinventing the Wheel, Cont.

Form: The team forms around a sense of purpose and shared priorities. Team members and stakeholders are identified and determine why the project is necessary and for whom.

Storm: The team members storm from different perspectives and explore options that offer solutions to the challenges they identify. The outcome is to define who does what.

Norm: The team participants produce norms that enable them to synchronise and to achieve synergies in a spirit of transparency and transversality (cross-functional thinking).

Perform: When the team moves to the perform stage, the act of collaborating together is a natural process, done naturally. The team can be entrusted to make the right decisions.

Transform: The team is in the transform stage during product deployment, market launch, moving from project phases to operation, and transitioning between iterations. 

There is evidently a great deal of change management embedded in this cycle. Learn how to implement change in your projects . To pursue a simplified change curve, we can go from denial, through irritation and resistance, planning and exploration, acceptance and adhesion, to integration and assimilation.

In the adoption of a new product, through the stages, we may say first “Is this real?” Then we may start to say "Is this good for me, for us?” Then come questions such as “Is this really a priority?” As we come on board we might say “How can I help?” And ultimately we are saying “How can we convince people and get the message across?”

It’s also a learning cycle. As a rule people are keen and enthusiastic to begin, before becoming more frustrated, even demoralised, then beginning to absorb the skills but still unsure or uneasy, until ultimately the skills become natural and we can even extend the boundaries.

Through team growth, learning and change the cycle calls upon different styles of leadership; strong guidance in the early stages and empowering management later, while intensifying the degree of support and encouragement in the middle of the cycle.

The basic cycle mirrors the OODA loop, a key reference in critical competitive and combat situations – observe, orient, decide, act – the essence being the ability to go through the steps of the cycle, analysing the situation and selecting amongst optimal options, before deciding and acting in a faster loop and more effectively than the adversary.

By now, many will have been thinking that it all depends, as usual, on what kind of situations you are in; sometimes start with ‘build’, sometimes with ‘learn’, and so on. I am daring to suggest that we should always start with ‘measure’ or ‘check’. But that on occasions this step can be very short, and other times longer, and the same with each of the other steps depending upon the circumstance and the challenge.

In other words, it all depends upon the risks. Learn how to manage risks. If there is low technological risk and low commercial risk, the project will feel as if you know what you want and how to proceed.We can call this “incremental innovation”, and it will feel as if we are in a conventional project starting with planning, even when there is a small amount of measuring and learning at the star

When the risks are essentially commercial, it would be most appropriate to interact with users, clients and customers by focusing on building to obtain maximum feedback, even as we measure, learn and plan, the building will drive the process. For example, consumer products are subject to changes in fashion and are driven by constant and early feedback via trade shows and prototypes. There may be little technological risk to justify validating scientific and technical assumptions. In situations of “commercial innovation” we usually know how to work together, but not necessarily what is wanted.

On the other hand, where there is technological risk and little commercial risk, we know what we want, but not how to get there. Finding cures for diseases, cleaning the natural environment, achieving ecological sustainability are all can be considered as “systemic innovation” or “systematic innovation” where there is a need for interaction with experts within a context of institutional complexity. We invest in the learning step of the cycle.

The fourth kind of innovation often feels like pure research, or “radical innovation”. We are not sure what kind of technology we will find, not what kind of commercial applications will emerge. Neither the how nor what is easy to define, but if we don’t have some kind of projects of this nature in a large organisation, the risk investment portfolio will be unbalanced and unsustainable in the long run. It requires a great deal of seeking information, measuring data and checking facts.

‘Incremental projects’ have been termed (memorably, by Eddie Obeng) as “painting by numbers”, ‘commercial innovation’ can be likened to “making a movie” (much of a film finishes on the cutting room floor), ‘systemic innovation’ as “the quest” (as in the quest for a compelling goal), and ‘radical innovation’ as “walking in the fog”.

In the interests of perspective and practical application, we can consider that the ‘measure’ and ‘check’ stage emphasises ‘relational’, ‘community’ and ‘network’ input, the ‘learn’ and ‘think’ stage accentuates ‘ideas’ and ‘thinking’, the plan stage ‘structure’ and ‘process’, and the ‘build’ or ‘do’ phase is quite evidently centred on action. Thus we have an opening that offers a role for psychometric tools, which often revolve around a quartet of relational, ideas, structure or action preference.

If you are launching or implementing innovations within your organization, trust your learning path to the team of experts of Opteam. Our courses are available in two languages : English and French .

Launch the discussion with the expert on our facebook channel or linkedin !

IAN Stokes

Expert in Project and Innovation Management

The inventor of imaginative and stimulating approaches to organizational learning and author of "Activities for the Development of Project Management Skills and Techniques", Ian creates and delivers MBA courses, management programs and training tools. award-winning learning using experiential learning methods such as simulations, games and case studies. Mr Stokes has a great international and intercultural experience. He is a Certified Agile PM, SDI Strength Deployment Inventory, MBTI Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Dynamic Systems Development Management / Atern Trainer, Dynamic Solutions Development Management / Atern Practitioner, MSP (Managing Successful Programs), PMP Project Management Professional. 

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