Methods applied: ISMA 360®

The effectuation approach, ISMA 360® Method


At a time when innovation is crucial, what do we really know about the best ways to facilitate it? 
One can often hear that the ability to innovate and create is a natural gift. Wrong! It is something that can be learned.

This can be affirmed by Dr. Dominique Vian, associate professor of entrepreneurship at SKEMA Business School  and a specialist in entrepreneurial cognition who spent more than ten years focusing on identifying and finding a solution to the key issues innovators face. Many people encounter obstacles and become discouraged. Through exchanges with entrepreneurs and those with an entrepreneurial mindset, he discovered that there is a specific type of questioning that leads to innovation.

The modeling of this pattern of questioning has helped shed light on how many innovative entrepreneurs think and navigate the complex labyrinth of the innovation process.

Expert innovators often follow this process partially; novices almost ignore it. His interaction with various entrepreneurs made Dominique realise that it was possible to model the necessary information, the nature of the invention at its origin notwithstanding.

What is ISMA360®?

ISMA360® is a method that enables innovative people to design a strategy without having to make a hypothesis about the future, but by analysing the facts and their direct consequences.
     It is defined as:
  • A standard questioning which makes it possible to transform an invention into a market
  • A method that allows a novice to think like an expert
  • An approach that mobilises individual and collective cognitive "resources".

Theoretical underpinnings of the ISMA360® method

The method is based on two complementary theoretical frameworks for mapping and navigating complex and uncertain environments.

Navigating complex environments makes it difficult to predict the future. Moreover, any hypothesis on a final result to be achieved can prove to be unrealistic. While it is not possible to answer the question: “What do I have to do to reach this future?”, the two questions relevant to an entrepreneurial venture become: “What do I know?” and “What can I do that is a direct consequence of what I know?” 

This approach is particularly effective when it is impossible to set a final goal. This is the case when innovation makes no reference to a past; when it is disruptive. This logic of reasoning — available means and related possible effects — is called the effectual logic (Sarasvathy 2001).
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