Case Study

How to define the collaborations around an internal R&D team to innovate more

As a first step towards raising the employee security awareness, I organised a first workshop during the annual summit of the European security leaders to frame the problem and come closer to solutions. The results is a stronger sentiment of team among the participant, and an ordered list of root causes for the problem to be addressed in later times.






3 months


Project Manager


The R&D team in question is called the Rakuten Institute of Technology’s (RIT). It’s mission is to improve Rakuten products and services using cutting-edge technologies. Created in 2014, this R&D team works with the French marketplace of Rakuten, and with European and Japanese Rakuten businesses. In the past four years, the team almost doubled its size (from 6 to 11), but kept the same way of working.

How might we gather and understand RIT partner’s needs and data systematically, so that RIT and its partners propose together solutions adding value to the business ?

This is the very focused and narrow challenge we defined during our work with the RIT Paris team. The RIT doesn’t collaborate with clients, but with internal partners from the same company. As a consequence, the success of RIT’s innovations and breakthroughs rests on the level of trust and common understanding of its partners. The parisien division of RIT had a need for better collaboration with its partners, and had the intuition to bet on a user-centric approach to address this matter.


Our goal for this complex challenge was to find a vision for the future of the team. Then we draw a path from today to this ideal future, with a clear view of what is not working today and need specific solution.

Method and deliverables

The following picture is the summary of the final report. It presents all the steps we took and every single deliverable we produced during the process. The preparation took 2 weeks, the process 8 weeks, and the conclusion and transfert 3 weeks.

From chaos to a simple four pillars approach

We identified four pillars playing a role in building effective internal collaborations around the team. How ? By laying out the ecosystem around the RIT team and their relationship with several types of actors.

"We decided to launch a study using Design Thinking methods, about how to improve the relationships between RIT and the teams we partner with. We wanted to involve RIT team members as well as our partners and it was not obvious how far we would be able to do that, but the degree of involvement, the interest of the participants and the outcome of the study were far beyond our expectations."

— Head of RIT Paris

Accomplishments & Learnings

After eight weeks of study, we covered a large ground around the team’s work life. We created together a bunch of complementary solutions to address the challenge. They have in common the wish to re-balance the technology and the human in the every day life of the team. Six months after the conclusion, RIT Paris members still keep the momentum. The solutions we designed as a group are being implemented.

Biggest challenge for me

At that time this project was the most ambitious I ever tackled. I wasn’t sure about what to expect at the end of the process, but I kept moving one step at a time and the result was amazing.  I had the great pleasure to see supporting reactions for the members of the team as well as from other employees in the company.

The most important takeaway of this study for me, is that  It doesn’t matter how innovative or exciting the technology is, human dimension should not be forgotten, at any step.

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