Promoting a culture of innovation

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In order to maintain their sense of innovation, companies have to turn it into a culture.

This create an optimal environment for transforming an idea into a solution. At LEMO, this is Mathieu Menet's mission.

Mathieu Menet, in a few words, how is your “in- novation” plan set up?
It is based on three landmarks. First, monitoring technology with a system for filtering tendencies and analysing opportunities. Second, building an ecosystem to speed up the innovation process, rationalize and materialize ideas. Finally, we are working on a new network of experts, because the further we progress in innovation, the harder it is to have all the competencies in-house.

Most certainly, one of the first things you had to explain was what the word “innovation” stood for …
Exactly! The word is used in many different senses. At company level, the implementation of a culture of innovation may be associated with providing a ping-pong table or free food, doing brainstorming sessions all the time or writing plenty of ideas on post-its. But this is not at all what it means!

What is it then?
The objectives are quite down-to-earth. It is all about transforming an idea into a viable, feasible and attractive solution through an efficient and sustainable system. The process consists of analysing the situation, under- standing the context, the inherent needs and uncertainties. Every uncertainty is then tested in order to transform it into knowledge. Using these new insights, we discover the directions where solutions for the future can be found. It is a repetitive, rigorous, concrete process that people rarely expect to see.

What is the biggest challenge of implementing such a process?
A new system is like a transplant. You must keep monitoring its evolution, otherwise it will be rejected. Innovation is a driving force that needs to become part of the everyday life of every single employee! We give everyone the opportunity to express themselves, whatever their position in the company, or their technical field. Everybody can influence the Group’s future. The challenge is to make every employee understand that they actually do have power and to give them the means to use this power, so that the new culture can be adopted.

What is your core message to explain the im- portance of every single person in this new adventure?
We are living in a world of uncertainty, but full of opportunities. If we are not scared of this and work all together, we can benefit from all these opportunities. At LEMO, we want to continuously generate idea “bricks” which may later be used to build solutions that we cannot imagine today. Tools can be bought with money, processes can be aligned with the help of consultants. However, in order to go further, we need to develop our own culture, this is the real issue. LEMO has always been a big family, which is exactly what you need for innovation: a family that talks, exchanges ideas, helps one another, to which every single person can con- tribute.