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If you treat an individual as he is, he will stay as he is; but if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.Goethe

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Innovate through experimentation

Innovate through experimentation

Experimentation is a powerful innovation accelerator which, thanks to the digital revolution, is much more accessible than before. Yet it remains under-utilized. How can you prompt people to acquire the reflex to experiment with their ideas?


The digital revolution gives us access—often free of charge—to tools formerly reserved for professionals. Just about anyone can thus easily design a kitchen with 3D modeling software, launch a blog or publish a digital book that the whole world can download. You no longer have to be an expert in any of these fields. Although these practices have become commonplace in the home, they still are still having trouble making inroads in the workplace.

Rapid prototyping tools, however, represent an extraordinary source of opportunity. When the Ford factory in Detroit made a 3D printer available to its employees, it never imagined that the number of new patents registered would jump by 30 percent the first year! One Ford employee, for example, designed and produced a defogging valve prototype. If he had not been able to test his idea easily, he would have probably given up before it could take shape and be developed. Providing experimentation tools thus makes it possible to release great innovation potential, invaluable in times of crisis.

The material and technical obstacles to experimentation are being lifted. Many tools are free or can be pooled, relieving the need to request additional budget. It is no longer necessary to engage experts, because prototyping tools can often be utilized intuitively. When technical skills are needed, the existence of dedicated communities makes it possible to receive immediate assistance. Technically, just about anyone can thus develop his or her own prototypes.

On the other hand, intangible obstacles persist. Providing tools for experimentation is not enough to change the company culture. Many teams never or only belatedly consider developing even rough prototypes.

So how can one capitalize on these new opportunities and make experimentation an everyday practice?

In this synopsis:
Practice experimentation from the first stages of innovation
- Establish reflexive experimentation
- Encourage informal experimentation

Synopsis n.219b