What about setting up a lab in your firm ?

When firms want to improve their innovation abilities, they are often said to set up a “lab”. But what kind of lab ?

A good way to innovate and thus to make the difference, or simply to survive in this VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) world, is to create a “lab” inside the company. Indeed, such structure eases the emergence of disruptive ideas and isolates uncertain projects so as to develop them without disrupting the current organization of the firm so as to keep them growing without the firm stopping them and killing the innovative ideas – in fact, firms often stop every kind of deviant initiatives and ideas that don’t follow the rules.

Nowadays, labs are flourishing: Orange labs, i-lab, UR lab… However, they don’t have the same goals and targets. It is of prime importance to know what you want to do upstream and then to define guiding principles of your lab. The creation of a lab has 6 main goals: a futurology aim, agility and incubation, opened innovation, facilitator, communication and acculturation or creation and learning.

The lab with futurology aim

Such structure aims at thinking about the firm’s strategy for the upcoming 5 or 10 years by providing a detailed portrait of how the world could change and how those changes can impact the existing firm’s market.

In this case, the innovation research is more centred about the use rather than technology As a result, the very first goal is to identify the biggest trend that are reshaping the uses and the world (climate change, the fast ageing of population, demographic boom in certain world region, urbanization, shortage of raw materials…) so as to determine the extent to which the way to live, to move, to learn, to work or to treat oneself is going to change. The lab with futurology aim estimates the challenges that are going to impact the firm and its markets in the near future. This is an observation time to understand the future.

The lab with agility and incubation aim

This lab aims at enabling the firm to innovate faster, it is a sort of project organization. The creation of such a structure enables to work with different methods from the existing one in the company: the methods used are more flexible and agile and looks like startups’ working methods: coworking, design thinking…

The lab becomes then a place to innovate differently thanks to a different operating mode. This lab stands as an internal incubator, a structure that eases the emergence of innovating project inside the firm. The idea is to initiate the intern staff to new skills and practices specific to startups in order to accelerate the projects and to optimize the success of intern innovations.

This lab allows you to take the risks your firm no more takes.

The opened innovation lab

A lab searches for rupture ideas in order to contribute to accelerating innovation of the firm and to exploring new markets. Those ideas can come not only from big corporation, technologics traditional partners but also from startup, universities, incubators, competitivity hubs…

The lab whom goal is innovation has to be the entry point with the external ecosystem so as to organize a creative watch or even to demonstrate the interest of an innovation or a new business model to intern parties involved in the firm’s economic life.The Lab has to identify the best solution for a problem which the firm can’t find any intern solutions.

The facilitator lab

A lab can have the mission to activate and push the innovation culture in a firm. In big corporation, a Lab is here to ease the gathering of the different firm’s expertises and parties around common innovation vision and practices. This sort of las is depicted as a innovation expertise center for jobs.

The communication and acculturation lab

The goal of this lab is to reinforce and enhance the innovation abilities and the digital culture of the firm. its main missions are to :

  • Connected the firm with technologic sector leaders
  • identify the new trends, the startups and the new talents
  • reinforce the digital culture inside the firm staff
  • launch main digital initiatives before operating a bigger scale action.

The creation and learning lab

Those sort of labs draw their inspiration from OpenLab, CreativeLab, Living Lab, Future center, HackerLab and many more technologics like FabLab, Techspace, Makerspace, Hasckerspace… Those labs favour collective intelligence or even intrapeneurship., by enabling :

  • exchange between different parties
  • knowledges transmission via training sessions
  • sharing of innovative option
  • community approach around interesting topics such Big Data, IoT, IA….

Labs turn out to be good places for transformation in firms as they bring a cultural change and favour the emergence of new ways to work and new form of organization. These approaches are often brought by intrapreneurs and/or corporate hackers.

It is of paramount importance to clearly define the objective you want to reach with the creation of your lab and to choose well the type of lab you want to  create.

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