Mr. André Letowski
Mr. André Letowski
In active retirement, Mr. Letowski acts as expert, consultant and volunteer to diverse Boards of Directors for organizations involved in the creation of enterprise and micro enterprise.
Mr. Letowski was appointed as Director of the Observatory and in charge of the analysis and studies at the Agency for the Creation of Enterprises (a private association, which is two-thirds financed by the French Government) during 18 years. Prior to joining the Agency, he provided consultancy to small enterprises managers (with less than 20 employees) for many years.
He is the author of numerous articles and a monthly note of analysis published in French language treating topics as the creation of enterprise and Small Entrepreneurship in general.
INSME: Can you give us a wrong and a right definition of innovation?
Mr. Letowski: In my opinion a right definition is: to observe, think and act in a different way to be perfectly in line with market expectations and to solve daily challenges in a more effective and less “costly” manner. This often implies to distance yourself from usual ways of thinking and acting.
An incomplete or even false definition is: to limit innovation merely to technological progress or even to “the surprise effect” of some marketing campaigns, that identify their solutions as “new” or “revolutionary” without considering the medium-term.
INSME: Do you think that nowadays economic players are conscious enough of the opportunity that the international dimension represents for being innovative and of the benefits they could get back? If they are not, which is the main obstacle?
Mr. Letowski: The international dimension is important; particularly when it comes to medium and large enterprises leaders, while it does not play such a crucial role for small and micro enterprises, whose clients are often locally concentrated. Those enterprises face a strong competition at a local level. Nevertheless to observe what happens at international level or beyond the border of its own country might be of help for small enterprises to reconsider the products created by the enterprise itself. Taking the above mentioned into consideration, a majority of entrepreneurs encounters difficulties to meet the international dimension mainly because of cultural reasons as they have never experienced such a challenge neither during their education nor during their professional path.
INSME: How can worldwide networks like INSME help public bodies, stakeholders and intermediaries to foster innovation in favour of SMEs?
Mr. Letowski: I am convinced that international networks like INSME can greatly contribute to promote awareness on the essential role of innovation, and even more on its operational implementation.
INSME: Which is, according to your experience the most effective way to help SMEs and entrepreneurs to be innovative?
Mr. Letowski: To drive small firms to adopt an innovative behaviour and create innovative products and solutions, it is necessary to boost leaders to observe the expectations of potential customers and the way in which these expectations have been met locally (whether successfully or not), but also to look out different ways to act in other countries, in other cultures, or in other contexts (a solution used in other branches or areas of activities). In other words: it is fundamental to identify opportunities and the added value small enterprises can bring, by integrating their own skills (technical know-how, knowledge of different markets, specific culture etc.), making sure they differentiate themselves from what already exists, while attempting to measure the impact of these changes.
First of all it is necessary to leave what has been gained from previous experiences (in order to avoid duplicating what the enterprise is already able to do), to let intuition, creativity and a new way of implementation guide the business, together with a risk-taking behavior and a forward-looking vision.
INSME: Let’s play a game:
INSME: If I say Cooperation you say…
Mr. Letowski: A state of mind, an asset for the development apt to define what each one can bring to a mature project in which it is possible to be complementary and create a «win-win-situation».
INSME: If I say Network you say..
Mr. Letowski: A set of diversified relations, which shares visions or similar targets, with whom the exchange is easy and stimulating and often leads to a close cooperation.
INSME: If I say Internationalization you say…
Mr. Letowski: Different cultures, different practices, obligation to adapt oneself, but also to be open to "new adventures".
INSME: If I say Intercultural Communication you say..
Mr. Letowski: A fruitful bet, provided that it is feasible to bolster diversity to build a positive cooperation.
INSME: If I say Innovation you say…
Mr. Letowski: The future, to be constantly renewed.
INSME: If I say change you say…
Mr. Letowski: Movement, life, the routine ruled out.
INSME: YOUR INNOVATION MOTTO…
Mr. Letowski: To dare, analyze and do things in a different way to keep pace with the reality.