I would also like to note that I have chosen to use theterms “collaborative new product development”,“collaborative efforts” and “collaborative innovation” when describing common features of the mentionedmethods. These are however not commonly incorporated scientific terms, and are used for thecause of convenience in this paper.
2. THE COLLABORATIVE NPD METHODS2.1 Background
How the West thinks about organization andinnovation is influenced by Fredrick Taylor’s work inthe beginning of the 20
century. Taylor's ideas onscientific management lead to a revolution inproduction time. The traditional way of one craftsmanmaking all the features of a product himself, as well asmaybe marketing and selling, was abandoned inadvantage of separated divisions of labor whichreduced time to market and cut manufacturing costradically
. At about the same time as Taylor wrote his theninnovative works, Thomas Edison set up his famouslab in Menlo Park in New Jersey. This factory of inventions characterized by a free flow of informationbetween scientists from different disciplines, produced400 patents in 6 years, and can be seen as an early example of a successful cross-functional innovationprocess. It was however the Taylor way which prevailedin the hundred years to come. Most companies today are divided in different departments dealing withspecialized tasks.For some time though, weaknesses of division of laborhave become increasingly evident. In a world whereeverything happens so fast that change in productionprocedures may occur within a few weeks, rigidbureaucracy and operations are more of hindrancesthan boosters for growth. The expense of the timeconsuming “over-the-wall” approach where onedepartment does their work on a project and then“throws it over the wall” to the next department in afairly Tayloristic manner, is a problem that businessleaders and researchers have become more and moreaware of. The realization has lead to the developmentof new collaborative product development methodscharacterized by cross-functionality, customer focus,use of information- and communications technology (ICT) and visualization techniques like rapidprototyping.
2.2 Concurrent Engineering (CE)
The western introduction to the collaborativeinnovation process may be related to Ford'sdevelopment of the Ford Taurus in the early 80s whichincluded aspects like cross-functional teams andgeographical collocation. The process was inspired by development methods in the Japanese car industry which at the time was considered a serious threat to the American industry. Fortunately for Ford, the result of the new process was a highly holistic product whichturned out to be the most sold car of its time in the US. The project was however 6 months late, and themanager got fired because of it. The next versionunderwent a lot more sequential based developmentprocess with strict time control, and although finishing according to plan, the car was by far not the same sale-success as its predecessor. Consequently, one may say that the first collaboration effort at Ford was amixed success.In 1987, The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) followed up with an extensive survey on the matter, naming the process ConcurrentEngineering and created a definition:
Concurrent engineering is a systematic approach to the integrated, concurrent design of products and their related processes, including manufacturing and support. This approach is intended to cause the developers, from the outset, to consider all elements of the product life cycle from conception through disposal, including quality, cost,schedule, and user requirements.
The DARPA-project resulted in wide implementationof concurrent engineering in government departments,like defense, aerospace and automobile. This initiated achain reaction among the industries suppliers andsubcontractors, and led to a wide recognition of themethod in the U.S. . Since then, the term hasundergone several interpretations, and understandingsof the method seems to vary quite a lot. In her book “Implementing concurrent design in small companies”, Susan Carlson Skalak suggests the following characteristics for describing the CE process:
Customer focus and involvement
Early and continual involvement of suppliers in the
The Collaborative New Product Development Process2