Participatory innovation: realities and results

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Results of the 2011 Innov'Acteurs / Inergie study on participative innovation: innovation displayed as a priority increases job satisfaction for 93 % of employees.

The results of the 2011 Innov'Acteurs / Inergie study on participatory innovation, aimed at gaining a better understanding of the realities of participatory innovation in the field, were previewed during the Carrefour de l'Innovation Participative which took place at the beginning of December. The study was carried out online from September 8 to October 30, 2011 with 1,226 employees from 11 companies that have been involved in a participatory innovation approach for more than 5 years, across all sectors.

Participatory innovation is defined as a structured management approach aimed at stimulating and facilitating the generation, implementation and dissemination of ideas by all the staff of a company. The word innovation suggests a posture of awakening, curiosity, audacity and risk-taking; the word participatory invites a management style that favours listening and dialogue, taking initiative and the right to make mistakes.

There are two types of participatory innovation: spontaneous participatory innovation, which gives everyone the opportunity to propose ideas on any subject, and provoked participatory innovation, which stimulates everyone's ideas on a specific subject or theme: challenges, challenges...

"More than ever the battles of the future are those of grey matter and original ideas. Ideas resulting from the mixing and blending of cultures, experiences and knowledge of multiple actors. It remains to master the methods and techniques best suited to the germination of ideas in the most unexpected places or circumstances. Participatory innovation is the key word in current trends. Innovation is first and foremost a state of mind. A freedom of mind insufficiently stimulated, yet creativity must become a work, a collective posture, a participatory act in the social and economic life of the company. The dilution of grey matter, the dispersal of skills, the cross-fertilisation of knowledge, requires that specific practices and knowledge be rubbed together and that the pollination of ideas and practices and the cross-fertilisation of ideas be encouraged. Whether in furniture, automobiles or home equipment, it is becoming essential to invest in research and development to find concepts, components, materials and colours that contribute to product differentiation. "says Denis Ettighoffer - Les Echos (Oct. 2011).

 Here are the main lessons of this study:

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The study reveals that 93% of employees say they are satisfied to work in their company when innovation is perceived as a priority, compared to 64% for others and an average of 83% in organizations; an innovation policy that is clearly implemented internally for two-thirds of respondents.

In companies that have set up a participative innovation approach, i.e., a system designed to stimulate, implement and enhance the value of employees' ideas:

> The company benefits from ideas generated by staff (76%) before those from customer surveys (66%).

> While 74% of employees recognize the approach as effective for the company, they also find it motivating (67%) for them: it stimulates their creativity (42%) and encourages collective work (36%), rather than individual development (listening, recognition, etc.). Nevertheless, and compared to the last study (2007), the authors of ideas are better recognized +20% (67%) and ideas are better shared and replicated internally +17% (56%).

Perceived benefits show that while the ideas put forward aim to increase customer satisfaction (38%), they contribute above all to improving working conditions (41%), safety at work (34%) or quality (33%).

In addition to the search for efficiency, a new way of managing is mentioned here, with respondents projecting the improvement of internal practices for the benefit of employees: above all, they would like to be able to offer ideas on managerial practices (in priority for 42%), followed by well-being at work, communication or internal relations for a third of them, with the improvement of customer relations only coming in fifth place. A concern for the human factor and internal relations that is in line with the growing issues of humanization and the meaning given to work in organizations.

Nevertheless, the study raises the question of the dynamics of participatory innovation approaches, which are based on factors to be challenged in companies :

> the active role of managers, in an approach perceived as not very stimulating for them (59% of positive opinions),

> the formalization of the recognition of contributors during the annual interview (44% of positive opinions),

> Idea tracking, which remains the Achilles heel of participatory innovation for one in two respondents.

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In conclusion, the study reveals a good image of participatory innovation that would strengthen the listening of collaborators. Four questions then arise on the challenges ahead:

 How to move from a progress approach to a real management mode?

►Rendre the manager more involved in the process

How to make innovation perceived as a priority in the company?

►Développer innovation culture for all

How to develop the individual valorization of contributors?

►Reconnaître the capacity for innovation as a competence.

Download the complete Results of the 2011 Innov'Acteurs / Inergie study on participatory innovation.

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