“Innovation is like sex, happiness, leadership… Everyone is aware of it but we all do it differently. Yet the best way to know whether you are doing things well is if people copy you.” This is the definition provided by the CEO of Innoquotient, Fran Chuan, who also cofounded the company he heads, which specialises in the analysis and management of innovation culture in organisations.
Their method is based on the use of the online test called Tool IQ. It is a digital tool and applicable to all types of companies to analyse them, find their strong and weak points, and help them design a strategy to introduce innovation into their structures.
Until now, as he points out in the WWi Summit 2017, the fourth edition of the event for the practical application of proposals and conclusions drawn from cases of real companies, innovation has been learnt with the “traditional method taught in business schools. They show you how to manage the known world,” he says, “but innovation comes from discovering what you do not know.” Therefore, the rules of the game are different and so you have to play from another perspective.
Chuan: “The culture needs to change so that innovation becomes part of the DNA and generates sustainable growth”
What that generates is frustration: “Executives invest and they invest more only to end up with apologies because the objectives were not reached.” It is here, he says, where 75% of experiments fail. So this does not happen, what needs to be done is “to change the culture so that innovation becomes part of the DNA and generates sustainable growth,” a strategy that many companies have applied, such as Ibercaja, Leroy Merlin and Schneider Electric, by following the Innoquotient method.
Transforming the team so as to innovate
With 140 years of history and a staff of 5,500 employees, Ibercaja is one of the largest companies that has had to transform its business model to adapt to new trends.
Fernández: “This does not come from digital transformation, it comes from integral transformation”
Beyond introducing online banking or the use of applications, taking this step forward into the future requires introducing innovation into the corporation because “this does not come from digital transformation, it comes from integral transformation,” says human resources manager, Teresa Fernández. The ingredients of the business model are people, both the human team that makes up the company as well as the clients, and Fernández sees technology as “the lever” while human resource management is “the key”.
The proposal is to transform the culture through the leaders, develop new skills and behaviour, and boost people’s work to awaken their instinct for leadership. “We began with the board, to whom we gave all the details of the strategy, although not the heads lower down so that the change would gradually become established as part of their routine,” she says.
The use of proposals like Lego Serious Play, Room Space, weekly challenges or the Ibercaja Innovation Week –an event in which the results of studies and staff valuations were presented- are some of the ways this integral change was encouraged from within.
Yet, another basic element was working with external organisations. In Ibercaja’s case, the head of human resources mentions Microsoft or the Saragossa Etopia art and technology centre, two partners that help them to stay updated with the latest innovations and to detect focal points of talent among entrepreneurs, startups, fintech or freelances.
Innovating to survive
If there is one thing Schneider Electric is clear about it is that innovation is about survival. “We need new technology and to get it into the market quickly so as not to run the risk of disappearing,” says the director of operations, Nicolás Romera, echoing his words when he was director of technology at Amazon.
Romera: “Without people, there is neither business nor innovation"
He is also convinced that without people, “there is neither business nor innovation,” which explains why in only a few years the management of the company has turned towards analysing factors like diversity instead of numbers. “One of our proposals is to include more female talent. We have been selected by the UN for a diversity programme,” he says.
Without moving too far away from Ibercaja’s philosophy and strategy, Schneider Electric has regional hubs for product innovation. These organisations widen the pool of interlocutors and collaborators so as to bring about exponential change thanks to the diversity of opinions and proposals that comes from having different partners. That explains why they go for startups, which allow them to break with bureaucracy and gradually introduce the flexibility associated with entrepreneurs and that can be basic when it comes to standing out in the market.
Bringing order to ideas
For Leroy Merlin, Amazon is also very present, but because it has been able to position itself as the market leader, which meant a rethink of the business model so as to be able to stand up to the tech giant.
The brand, part of the Adeo group, has more than 100,000 employees around the world, while in Catalonia the figure is around a thousand people. As with Ibercaja, almost 900 company executives met in Poblenou for a corporate event at which they came to an important conclusion: “The digital transformation of businesses is the transformation of people.” Anyone who does not come to this idea, suggests the regional human resources manager, Nora Solé, is not doing things right.
The main strong point of the hardware and furniture company is the sheer number of proposals it generates: “We have plenty of ideas and we participate a lot. Participation creates a lot of commitment, but we had never made the most of it.” So, along with introducing new skills, the management embraced a new more open and orderly methodology when it came to proposals and listening to ideas from the staff.
Solé: “The management and the staff have to come together, it is only a matter of time and speed until they do”
With the results in hand and the experience of change, Solé insists that there is nothing more important than “thinking of organisations like systems instead of hierarchies. The management and the staff have to come together, it is only a matter of time and speed until they do,” she says.