Lean & Meaningful Innovation: A match made in heaven

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A few days before I left for two weeks of delightful Italy for – dare I say it – a well-deserved rest, I gave a workshop at the LPPDE conference in Copenhagen. For two days, innovation managers from various international organizations tackled the question of how to come up with ‘lean’ product and process development, which does not (automatically) mean: with as few people as possible, but with as little ‘waste’ as possible.

What struck me about this gathering of professionals was that the Lean approach did not always draw out their creativity. On the contrary: it appeared to be a bit of a non-issue to them. At least, that was the impression I got from the interesting conversations I had and the enthusiastic response to my workshop. Often, there is not enough room for creativity, and if there is, not enough is done to stimulate and use it. It is not as if you wake up one sunny morning and say: “let’s be creative from now on!” You need to offer a clear and solid structure in which creativity can pop up and blossom.

Equally, using the right tools is important. A tool is a skill that must be trained, just like a stiff muscle. Compare it to golf, a sport that you can’t master simply by reading a book about it. I was pleased to notice that many people who attended the conference felt that the Meaningful Innovation approach offered ample opportunities for enriching their own Lean processes. Lean & Meaningful Innovation, sounds to me like ‘a match made in heaven’.