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LEAD Innovation Blog

Read our latest articles on innovation management and innovation in a wide range of industries.

Date: 11-Oct-2018
Posted by: Michael PUTZ

Why only the right moderation leads to innovation


New things always create resistance. The higher the degree of novelty of an innovation, the higher the internal hurdles to bring it onto the market. Obstacles emerge at the first meeting of the innovation team and accompany the innovation process until the market launch. Moderation helps you to stay on course with your innovation. This blog post answers your 12 most important questions about moderation and innovation.

  1. Why does innovation need moderation?

Innovation always has a lot to do with emotion. You will notice this already at the first meeting of your innovation team. Each of us tends to find his own ideas better than those of others. That's why everyone's taking on some sort of parenthood for her. An objective view of the advantages and disadvantages of one's own flashes of inspiration is hardly possible. That is why someone is needed to create objectivity in the group. Professional business moderation guarantees that the goals of a meeting are achieved and that the team does not get bogged down.

Handbook LEAD User Method


  1. Is it important that a moderator has sound innovation know-how?

No. Quite the opposite. The moderation for an innovation is even easier if the moderator has no idea of the subject. For example, if you want to develop new windows for office buildings, the moderator will also have his own ideas and opinions, because he is also a window user. However, it is unlikely that the moderator will ever buy windows for office buildings in his life. He is not a target group for this innovation and his opinion is therefore completely irrelevant. When it comes to a technical product with which the moderator has no relationship at all, it will be easier for him to remain objective. Engineers from your own company who have already invented and developed successful products on the market are unsuitable as moderators. Because they try to defend their successful invention, and no other idea is good enough for them.


  1. Can own employees also take over the moderation for an innovation, or should one necessarily hire an external service provider for this? 

The moderator may well come from within the company itself. There are companies that have their own employee who only deals with business moderation. However, the person should be located directly at the interface between market and technology. The moderator may under no circumstances be subordinate to a superior from one of these areas. Otherwise, he's biased. According to the US management pioneer, Peter F. Drucker, market and technology and innovation are the two core tasks of every company. Only they bring new customers. According to the printer, all other departments in a company would only incur costs.


  1. If a company has its own innovation manager, is he automatically the moderator for innovation?

No, it depends very much on the tasks of the innovation manager and - as already mentioned above - where he is based. There are innovation managers who do not like moderation, because it also requires a whole range of skills.


  1. In which phase of the innovation process should the moderator appear on the plan?

The moderation for an innovation begins with the selection of the members of the innovation team. Both the composition and the size of the team strongly influence the output. A good moderator will make sure that he can work with as heterogeneous a group of people as possible. Because they work better together. Read here which roles these members should absolutely occupy and why it is important to have opponents or sourpusses in the innovation team.

  1. Aren't conflicts poisonous for an innovation process?

No. At least one opponent in each group. The conflicts that this role, also known as Omega, brings about are extremely important. Omega sums up the concerns that other team members may have but do not express. For example, if an Omega suggests that an intended solution to a problem would be too expensive and therefore not feasible, then it is possible for the moderator to let the team discuss it. It would be much better if these concerns, which could also be real hurdles, were discussed. It would be bad if a patentable invention developed by the innovation team actually turned out to be too expensive. Every moderator is therefore happy when a group member takes on the role of the Omega. The role can change during the innovation process.


  1. How can a good moderator for innovation be identified?

He must be able to quickly pick up the team participants from their everyday life and create a constructive harmony. Good moderation can also be willing to recognize and deal with conflicts. Clarity always takes precedence over harmony. The moderator also has the task of guiding the group to its destination within the time limit. This also includes explaining to the Group the goal set at the very beginning. This order clarification informs the participants about who has invited to the meeting and what the client expects. With the LEAD user method and all other types of open innovation, an innovation team includes external persons. One goal of an innovation process can be to generate as many ideas as possible. Or the client is interested in getting just an idea for a solution. As already mentioned, the moderator should explain this at the very beginning of the process.


  1. Why is a professional moderation of innovation particularly important for open innovation methods, such as the LEAD user method?

Because here people take part in the meetings who do so voluntarily, do not receive any payment and in some cases even take a holiday for it. Here the moderator should take care to create an atmosphere of friendliness. It is also important to enable the participants to use the meeting as a stage for presenting their own ideas. Without losing sight of the actual goal of the innovation process. Conducting conferences with external people is something completely different from conducting a meeting that employees have been required to attend by their supervisors.


  1. Are there special moderation techniques that have proven themselves in the innovation process?

There are many moderation and creativity techniques. This download provides a good overview. The so-called Nörgler-Runde has proven itself in practice. All team members can get rid of the negative associations they have with their own products right at the beginning of the meeting. They can really "throw up" themselves by writing down the negative (brainwriting). Afterwards the moderator says: "That's it, from now on we only think in terms of opportunities. What would a perfect world look like, what characteristics would the'egg-laying woolly milksow' have." As I said, it is important that this takes place right at the beginning.


  1. Are there any other "classics" in moderation methods or creativity techniques?

Of course. Every group participant has a name tag. On this sign he gets a red dot if he thinks something is not working. He gets a green dot when he brings in a good idea or a creative approach. This technique may seem childish, but it is fun and relaxed. And: It works for both the garbage man and the corporate boss.


  1. Which tools, such as flipcharts or beamers, have proven themselves in the moderation of an innovation?

Working only with flipcharts, post-its, paper and pens has proven its worth. If one of the group stands in front of the baking paper glued to a table and holds a pen in his hands while the other participants are lively discussing, then the moderator has achieved an important goal. Power point slides or Google searches kill hung the creativity. The moderator should also clarify right at the beginning of the session that laptops, tablets and smartphones - for example for answering e-mails - are taboo. Because a team member who answers an e-mail on a mobile phone is not mentally with the group, does not contribute anything and disturbs the others. 


  1. How long should a moderation accompany the innovation? 

The moderator is actually always available to the company and visits it regularly during the innovation process. Even if the innovation team has already developed a patentable solution, the moderator can help overcome resistance. If, for example, your company's packaging department says: "Okay, good idea, but we can't pack that." A moderator then helps to discuss and solve this problem objectively. Internal company discussions in particular are often very emotional. In functionally structured companies it often happens that one department points the finger at the other just to avoid having to work objectively. In such a situation, only an external moderator can help.


Conclusion: Moderation Innovation

Today, innovations rarely come from the pen of a single tinkerer, but are usually the result of teamwork. Where people work together in a focused, concentrated and creative way, many emotions arise. A moderator ensures that you can use them fruitfully for your own innovation process.
Case Study LEAD User Method

Michael PUTZ

Born in the Salzkammergut. After working for Shell and Porsche, he concentrated on innovation management as a study assistant at the Innovation Department of the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. In 2003 he founded LEAD Innovation and manages the company as Managing Partner. Lectures at MIT, in front of companies like Google or NASA.

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