PSA and open innovation

PSA’s spin on participatory innovation

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PSA Peugeot Citroën gets its 208,000 employees on board with its approach to innovation

At the Innov’Acteurs Campus, Mathilde Parlier-Blot, Customer Manager for Innovation at PSA, came to present her group’s participatory innovation strategy.
At a group with more than 200,000 employees, the idea was to adopt a “step-by-step” approach and not to rush things. They started by simply sorting open innovation and its ecosystem into four areas:

  • Open innovation with institutions, such as local authorities
  • Individual open innovation, which can come from customers or employees
  • Academic open innovation: joint creation with a network of schools, particularly by launching innovation challenges for students
  • Open innovation with companies, which may be partner companies or suppliers

Innovation challenges

This new approach was soon made a reality with an in-house challenge on the theme “Working together to come up with new user experiences with our electronic devices and the cars of the future.” Just over 1,000 ideas were submitted by 1,300 employees, resulting in 4 patent applications. The key to this successful strategy involves following up on the ideas put forward and having a short incubation and prototype phase.
The “Citroen Creative Awards”, a contest of ideas open to anyone with ideas about smart cars, were held in the same year. Among the ideas raised was “Junior Driver,” a driving simulator for kids in the backseat, and “Cocoon,” a relaxing passenger compartment concept with light therapy, aromatherapy and relaxation.

In 2013, the collaborative innovation strategy took on a new dimension with the “Costbusters” challenge. The group wanted the entire group to reflect on the theme of “Working together to create cost reduction solutions!” in the first half of 2013.

The “Costbusters” challenge: 2,500 ideas submitted in 6 months

When it comes to this participatory innovation strategy, the biggest hurdle for Mathilde Parlier-Blot is with middle management, which often disapproves of its employees taking part in this type of contest.

Making the innovation strategy a success

The key to ensuring collaboration from middle managers is to:

  • Incorporate them into teams of experts (often in charge of selecting ideas)
  • Get them involved in overseeing idea implementation
  • Communicate on the concrete results of the implemented ideas

Mathilde Parlier-Blot wants to take this approach to the next level and create a new position at the group: “Participatory innovation consultants” would support innovators and their managers.

Do you feel that this need exists in your company? What innovation solutions have you put in place?

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