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Graduate School ETD Form 9

(Revised 12/07)

PURDUE UNIVERSITY
GRADUATE SCHOOL
Thesis/Dissertation Acceptance

This is to certify that the thesis/dissertation prepared

By Brian Scott Glassman

Entitled IMPROVING IDEA GENERATION AND IDEA MANAGEMENT IN-ORDER TO BETTER


MANAGE THE FUZZY FRONT END OF INNOVATION

For the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Is approved by the final examining committee:


Dr. Linda Naimi
Chair
Dr. Michael Menefee

Rodney Vandeveer

William Krug

To the best of my knowledge and as understood by the student in the Research Integrity and
Copyright Disclaimer (Graduate School Form 20), this thesis/dissertation adheres to the provisions of
Purdue University’s “Policy on Integrity in Research” and the use of copyrighted material.

Dr. Linda Naimi


Approved by Major Professor(s): ____________________________________
____________________________________

Approved by: Dr. Gary Bertoline 4/19/09


Head of the Graduate Program Date
Graduate School Form 20
(Revised 10/07)

PURDUE UNIVERSITY
GRADUATE SCHOOL

Research Integrity and Copyright Disclaimer

Title of Thesis/Dissertation:
IMPROVING IDEA GENERATION AND IDEA MANAGEMENT
IN-ORDER TO BETTER MANAGE THE FUZZY FRONT END OF INNOVATION

Doctor of Philosophy
For the degree of ________________________________________________________________

I certify that in the preparation of this thesis, I have observed the provisions of Purdue University
Executive Memorandum No. C-22, September 6, 1991, Policy on Integrity in Research.*

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thesis/dissertation have been properly quoted and attributed.

I certify that all copyrighted material incorporated into this thesis/dissertation is in compliance with
the United States’ copyright law and that I have received written permission from the copyright
owners for my use of their work, which is beyond the scope of the law. I agree to indemnify and save
harmless Purdue University from any and all claims that may be asserted or that may arise from any
copyright violation.

Brian Glassman
________________________________
Signature of Candidate

April-20-2009
________________________________
Date

*Located at http://www.purdue.edu/policies/pages/teach_res_outreach/c_22.html
Graduate School Form 16
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Thesis/Dissertation Receipt

Date of Deposit: 4/27/09

Received from: Glassman, Brian Scott Student ID No. 00168-37682

Major Professor: L. Naimi Department Head: G. Bertoline

Department: Technology (Organizational Leadership and Supervision) TECH

Official Degree Title Expected: Doctor of Philosophy

Date Degree Expected: May 2009

Subject Heading∗ Business Administration, Marketing; Business Administration, Management;


Business Administration, General

The final approved deposit copy of a thesis entitled: Improving Idea Generation and Idea Management
In Order to Better Manage the Fuzzy Front End of Innovation

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IMPROVING IDEA GENERATION AND IDEA MANAGEMENT
IN ORDER TO BETTER MANAGE THE FUZZY FRONT END OF INNOVATION

A Dissertation

Submitted to the Faculty

of

Purdue University

by

Brian Scott Glassman

In Partial Fulfillment of the

Requirements for the Degree

of

Doctor of Philosophy

May 2009

Purdue University

West Lafayette Indiana


ii

I dedicate my thesis to my mother and father, Linda and Andy whose patience,
nurturing and regard for education held me on a steady course. I want to
express my appreciation to my sister Stephanie whose antics always kept me
thinking of ways to outsmart her. I also want to thank my Grandmother Irene
and Grandma Sally for their unconditional love and emotional support. I want to
acknowledge my Aunt Nancy for her wise encouragement and advice. Finally, I
want to remember my Poppa Frank whose love and enthusiasm for engineering
was passed down to me with unending patience at his basement workbench.
iii

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank my committee members - Linda Naimi, Michael Menefee,


Rodney Vandeveer and William Krug - for their help and support throughout the
dissertation process. And I would like to thank Kenneth Kahn for his advice and
encouragement.

I would especially like to thank my major advisor, Dr. Linda Naimi, for her
support, encouragement, and understanding. She truly is an inspiration to me!

Select Quotes

“In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, one can get caught up in life’s many
problems. When that happens, remember life is beautiful. Stop and take some
time to appreciate how beautiful and precious it is. It will surely make you feel
better.” - Dr. M.T. Naimi

“Life is not hard any more, it is just a whole lot more complicated.”
- Brian Glassman

“The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the
morning and does not stop until you get to the office.” - Robert Frost
iv

PREFACE

During my management studies at Duke University, Dr. Jeff Glass, a great


leader, and always an inspiration to me, was the first to formally introduce me to
the topic of the fuzzy front end. I remember it vividly, because he said the fuzzy
front end was a major challenge for management because its inner workings
were relatively unknown. From that point on, I was hooked on the topic and the
major challenges associated with it, and I felt a compelling need to help solve this
vital piece of the innovation puzzle. Hopefully, I have shed some light on it with
this research and model.
v

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page
LIST OF TABLES ................................................................................................. x
LIST OF FIGURES .............................................................................................. xi
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ............................................................................... xiv
ABSTRACT......................................................................................................... xv
CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION ............................................................................ 1
1.1. Statement of Research Problem, Background, and Context....................... 1
1.2. Importance and Significant of the Study ..................................................... 4
1.3. Research Questions ................................................................................... 5
1.4. Assumptions ............................................................................................... 6
1.5. Delimitations and Limitations ...................................................................... 8
CHAPTER 2. A COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE................. 9
2.1. Literature Review of Ideas .......................................................................... 9
2.1.1. Why does the Innovation Process Need Ideas? ................................... 9
2.1.2. Value of Ideas ..................................................................................... 10
2.1.3. Defining an Idea .................................................................................. 11
2.1.4. Narrowing the Definition of Ideas ........................................................ 12
2.1.5. Terminology ........................................................................................ 14
2.1.6. New and Old Ideas ............................................................................. 16
2.1.7. Summary of Literature Review on Idea ............................................... 17
2.2. The Evolution of the Innovation Process................................................... 18
2.2.1. The Importance of Innovation ............................................................. 18
2.2.2. A Quick History of Innovation and R&D: A Process Perspective ........ 19
2.3. Research on the Fuzzy Front End ............................................................ 26
2.3.1. Intro to Section on Fuzzy Front End.................................................... 26
2.3.2. Terminology for the Fuzzy Front End .................................................. 27
2.3.3. Activities in the Front End of Innovation .............................................. 29
2.3.4. Importance of the FFE ........................................................................ 30
2.3.5. Deliverable at the End of the Fuzzy Front End ................................... 32
2.3.6. Structured vs. Unstructured Fuzzy Front End ..................................... 33
2.3.7. Quick Review of Research on the Fuzzy Front End............................ 34
2.3.8. Summary of Research on the FFE...................................................... 36
2.4. Review of Process Models for the Fuzzy Front End ................................. 37
2.4.1. Intro to Section .................................................................................... 37
2.4.2. Review of FFE Process Models .......................................................... 37
2.4.3. Innovation Value Chain ....................................................................... 38
vi

Page
2.4.4. Cooper’s Stage-Gate Process Model.................................................. 40
2.4.5. Downsides of the Stage-Gate Model .................................................. 45
2.4.6. Khurana & Rosenthal FFE Model ....................................................... 46
2.4.7. Deloitte’s Spiral Model ........................................................................ 48
2.4.8. Downsides of the Deloitte Spiral Model .............................................. 51
2.4.9. Koen’s NCD Model ............................................................................. 52
2.4.10. Downsides and Conclusion on Koen’s Model ................................... 54
2.4.11. Husig, Kohn, and Poskela 2003 ........................................................ 55
2.4.12. Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll ............................................................. 56
2.4.13. General Problems and Issues with Fuzzy Front End Models............ 57
2.5. Literature Review of Activities in the Fuzzy Front End .............................. 62
2.5.1. List of Activities in the Fuzzy Front End .............................................. 62
2.5.2. Quick Categorization of Activities in the Fuzzy Front End................... 68
2.5.3. Proposed Organization of Activities for the Fuzzy Front End .............. 68
2.5.4. Summary of Section............................................................................ 69
2.6. Literature Review of Idea Generation ....................................................... 69
2.6.1. Why is Idea Generation Important? .................................................... 70
2.6.2. What is Idea Generation? ................................................................... 71
2.6.3. A Review of Idea Generation Research .............................................. 72
2.6.4. Creativity and Idea Generation ........................................................... 74
2.6.5. Environmental Scanning and Idea Generation ................................... 75
2.6.6. Seeding Ideas ..................................................................................... 77
2.6.7. Opportunity Identifications .................................................................. 78
2.6.8. Issues and Problems with Idea Generation ........................................ 79
2.6.9. Summary of Section............................................................................ 81
2.7. Highly Detailed Review of Sources of Ideas, and Idea Generation
Techniques, Activities, and Processes ............................................................ 81
2.7.1. People are the Only Source of Ideas .................................................. 81
2.7.2. Techniques, Activities, and Full Processes for Idea Generation ......... 84
2.7.3. Review of top idea generation processes ........................................... 90
2.7.4. Detailed Examination of Sources of Ideas ........................................ 101
2.7.5. Issues with External Sources of Ideas .............................................. 112
2.7.6. Which Source of Ideas is the Best? .................................................. 112
2.7.7. Major Issue with Idea Generation (Lack of Control Models) ............. 113
2.7.8. Summary of Section 2.7.................................................................... 113
2.8. Literature Review of Idea Management and Idea Banks ........................ 114
2.8.1. Introduction to Section ...................................................................... 114
2.8.2. What is Idea Management and What are Idea Banks? ..................... 114
2.8.3. Need for Idea Management and Idea Banks .................................... 115
2.8.4. Terminology for Idea Banks .............................................................. 116
2.8.5. A Review of the Literature on Idea Management and Idea Banks .... 117
2.8.6. Problems and Issues with Idea Management and Idea Banks ......... 126
2.8.7. Summary of Section.......................................................................... 127
vii

Page
CHAPTER 3. DEVELOPMENT OF CONTROL MODELS ................................ 128
3.1. Review and Selection of a Control Theory .............................................. 128
3.2. Development of a Control Model for Idea Generation ............................. 132
3.2.1. Continuous Idea Generation vs. Event Based Idea Generation ........ 132
3.2.2. Supporting Evidence for Ideation Events .......................................... 133
3.2.3. Controlling External and Internal Events ........................................... 135
3.2.4. Controlling the Source ...................................................................... 138
3.2.5. Internal vs. External Source and Methods of Control ........................ 140
3.2.6. Controlling Idea Generation Activities ............................................... 141
3.2.7. Internal and External Idea Generation and Control ........................... 144
3.2.8. Screening and Filtering Before Being Captured ................................ 145
3.2.9. Quick Review on Areas of Control .................................................... 147
3.2.10. Strategy and Idea Generation ......................................................... 148
3.2.11. Idea Generation’s Process Check Analysis .................................... 153
3.2.12. Characteristics of Created Ideas ..................................................... 154
3.2.13. A Practical example of managing the idea generation process ...... 155
3.2.14. Summary of Section........................................................................ 157
3.3. Development of a Control Model for Idea Banks and Idea Management 158
3.3.1. Major Functions of Idea Management............................................... 158
3.3.2. Capturing Ideas................................................................................. 161
3.3.3. Tagging ............................................................................................. 166
3.3.4. Storage and Categorizing ................................................................. 173
3.3.5. Process Check and Feedback .......................................................... 182
3.3.6. Diffusing and Routing........................................................................ 184
3.3.7. Routing ............................................................................................. 189
3.4. Linking Idea Banks to Portfolio Management.......................................... 190
CHAPTER 4. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY................................................... 193
4.1. Purpose of Study .................................................................................... 193
4.2. Limitations Effecting the Selection of the Type of Study ......................... 193
4.2.1. Lack of Metrics for Success in Idea Generation ................................ 193
4.3. Study Type Which Will Not Be Used ....................................................... 195
4.3.1. Observational Based Support Studies .............................................. 195
4.3.2. Application Based Support Study...................................................... 195
4.3.3. Laboratory Testing Base Support Study ........................................... 196
4.3.4. Analysis of Secondary Research ...................................................... 196
4.3.5. Interview Based Support ................................................................... 196
4.3.6. Electronic Survey Study .................................................................... 197
4.4. Parts to the Study ................................................................................... 198
4.5. Study Part One ....................................................................................... 198
4.6. Study Part Two ....................................................................................... 199
4.6.1. Description of Part Two..................................................................... 199
4.6.2. Description of Survey Tool ................................................................ 200
4.6.3. Description of the Respondent Pool.................................................. 202
4.6.4. Data Analysis .................................................................................... 202
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Page
CHAPTER 5. RESEARCH RESULTS .............................................................. 204
5.1. Summary of Case Study Results ............................................................ 204
5.1.1. Benefits of the Case Studies............................................................. 205
5.1.2. Analysis of the Company .................................................................. 205
5.1.3. Brief Summary of Each Case Study.................................................. 206
5.2. Case Study 1: Company Alpha ............................................................... 208
5.2.1. Background on the Company ........................................................... 208
5.2.2. Sources of Ideas for Idea Generation ............................................... 208
5.2.3. Events and Activities Used to Generate Ideas .................................. 209
5.2.4. Screening Ideas upon First Submission............................................ 211
5.2.5. Capturing Ideas from Internal and External Sources ........................ 211
5.2.6. Sources Tapped for Ideas................................................................. 213
5.2.7. Tagging Ideas during Capture .......................................................... 214
5.2.8. Storing and Categorizing Ideas ......................................................... 214
5.2.9. Process Check Used to Improve the Idea Generation Process ........ 215
5.2.10. Diffusing Ideas to Employees inside the Company ......................... 215
5.2.11. Comparison with Measures of Satisfaction ..................................... 216
5.2.12. Late Front End Activities at Company Alpha ................................... 217
5.2.13. Recommendations for Late Front End Activities ............................. 218
5.3. Case Study 2: Fairbanks Scales ............................................................. 218
5.3.1. Background on the Company ........................................................... 218
5.3.2. Overall Situation & Broader Strategic View....................................... 219
5.3.3. Adopting a Broader View of Their Core Business ............................. 221
5.3.4. A Broader Understanding of How their Products Fit into the Job
Process ....................................................................................................... 222
5.3.5. Idea Generation ................................................................................ 223
5.3.6. Recommendations for Idea Generation ............................................ 224
5.3.7. Screening of Ideas ............................................................................ 227
5.3.8. Capturing Ideas from Internal and External Sources ........................ 228
5.3.9. Tagging Ideas during Capture .......................................................... 228
5.3.10. Storage and Categorization ............................................................ 229
5.3.11. Process Check Used to Improve the Idea Generation Process ...... 229
5.3.12. Diffusing Ideas to Employees inside the Company ......................... 229
5.3.13. Late Front End Activities ................................................................. 230
5.3.14. Skunk Works Team......................................................................... 232
5.3.15. Comparison with Measures of Satisfaction ..................................... 233
5.4. Case Study 3: CartêGraph...................................................................... 235
5.4.1. Background on the Company ........................................................... 235
5.4.2. Idea Generation ................................................................................ 235
5.4.3. Technology Adoption ........................................................................ 236
5.4.4. Types of Idea Generation Activities .................................................. 238
5.4.5. Idea Management ............................................................................. 238
5.4.6. First Screen of ideas ......................................................................... 239
5.4.7. Capturing Ideas from Internal and External Sources ........................ 239
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Page
5.4.8. Recommendations for Capturing Ideas............................................. 240
5.4.9. Tagging Ideas during Capture .......................................................... 241
5.4.10. Storage & Categorization ................................................................ 241
5.4.11. Process Check Used to Improve the Idea Generation Process ...... 242
5.4.12. Diffusing Ideas to Employees Inside the Company ......................... 242
5.4.13. Late Front End Activities ................................................................. 243
5.4.14. Comparison with Measures of Satisfaction ..................................... 244
5.5. Case Study: Discussion of 2nd Research Question Based on Case Study
Evidence ........................................................................................................ 245
5.6. Case Study: Major Lessons Learned ...................................................... 247
5.6.1. Structure of Idea Management ......................................................... 248
5.6.2. Situational Dependence on Idea Generation or Idea Management .. 249
5.6.3. Assigned Idea Manager .................................................................... 249
5.6.4. Expertise is Needed .......................................................................... 249
5.7. Survey: Method of Cleaning the Data and Analysis ................................ 250
5.8. Survey: General Demographic Statistics for the Sample ........................ 252
5.8.1. Sample’s Relation to the Greater Population .................................... 255
5.9. Survey: Correlations between Satisfaction Variables.............................. 256
5.9.1. Idea Generation ................................................................................ 256
5.9.2. Idea Capture ..................................................................................... 258
5.9.3. Development Outcomes ................................................................... 260
5.10. Survey: Discussion of Correlations Between Satisfaction Variables and
Measures of Activities .................................................................................... 261
5.10.1. Correlations for the Idea Management Process .............................. 264
5.11. Survey: Discussion of Support for Proposed Model .............................. 274
5.12. Survey: Discussion of Normative Results ............................................. 275
5.12.1. Normative Results for Satisfaction Questions ................................. 275
5.12.2. Normative Results for Activity Questions ........................................ 276
5.13. Survey: Major Lessons Learned ........................................................... 278
CHAPTER 6. UPDATED CONTROL MODELS ................................................ 279
6.1. Screening Moved into Idea Management ............................................... 279
6.2. Strategic Alignment Activities .................................................................. 280
6.3. Final Version of the Glassman Control Model......................................... 283
BIBLIOGRAPHY ............................................................................................... 284
APPENDICES
Appendix A. Concept Life Cycle .................................................................... 301
Appendix B. Details of Stage Gate Process................................................... 302
Appendix C. Survey Instrument ..................................................................... 303
Appendix D. Normative Survey Results ......................................................... 311
VITA ................................................................................................................. 329
x

LIST OF TABLES

Table Page
Table 2.1. Koen et al. Activities in the Front End of Innovation ........................... 28
Table 2.2. Koen et al. Factors and Characteristics of the Front End of Innovation
...................................................................................................................... 29
Table 2.3. Specific Activities and Decisions for Each Stage and Gate ............... 43
Table 2.4. List of Activities Which Can Occur in the Front End of Innovation ..... 62
Table 2.5. Categorization of Front End Activities ................................................ 68
Table 2.6. Techniques which Aid in Idea Generation .......................................... 86
Table 2.7. Activities which Specifically Trigger Creativity.................................... 87
Table 2.8. Activities which Seed Individuals with Ideas ...................................... 88
Table 2.9. Activities Which Use Analysis to Spawn Creativity and Ideas ............ 89
Table 2.10. Full Idea Generation Processes ....................................................... 90
Table 2.11. Major Categories for Source of Ideas ............................................ 102
Table 2.12. Employee Based Sources of Ideas ................................................ 103
Table 2.13. Customer Sources Which Can Result in Ideas .............................. 104
Table 2.14. Non-for-profit Organizational Based Sources of Ideas ................... 106
Table 2.15. Supplier Sources............................................................................ 109
Table 2.16. Competitor sources ........................................................................ 110
Table 2.17. Sources of Ideas From Other Companies ...................................... 111
Table 3.1. Example of Idea from the Company’s First Attempt ......................... 156
Table 3.2. Example of Improved Set of Idea Resulting from Second Attempt .. 157
Table 3.3. Diffusion Methods, Forced, and Sought Diffusion ............................ 187
Table 5.1. Attributes of the Three Companies .................................................. 205
Table 5.2. Idea Generation Satisfaction Variable Results for Alpha ................. 216
Table 5.3. Idea Management Satisfaction Results Variables for Alpha ............ 217
Table 5.4. Recommended Idea Generation Techniques and Activities ............ 226
Table 5.5. Idea Generation Satisfaction Variable Results for Fairbanks ........... 233
Table 5.6. Idea Management Satisfaction Results Variables for Fairbanks ...... 234
Table 5.7. Correlation for Diffusion Activities .................................................... 271
Table 5.8. Correlations for Idea Management Software ................................... 272
Table 5.9. Support Found for the Author’s Proposed Model ............................. 274
xi

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure Page
Figure 1.1. Koen’s breakup of the new product innovation processes .................. 2
Figure 2.1. Concept Life Cycle Model ................................................................. 16
Figure 2.2. Early R&D process ........................................................................... 20
Figure 2.3. R&D Funnel ...................................................................................... 21
Figure 2.4. R&D Funnel and New Product and Commercialization Processes ... 21
Figure 2.5. Addition of the Fuzzy Front End........................................................ 22
Figure 2.6. State-Gate Process in the Overall Development Process and a Map
of Project Costs as the Project Progresses................................................... 23
Figure 2.7. Innovation Value Chain ..................................................................... 25
Figure 2.8. Visual Depiction of the Innovation Value Chain Model ..................... 38
Figure 2.9. Visual Depiction of the a Stage in the Stage-Gate Model ................. 41
Figure 2.10. Full Stage-Gate Process Model ...................................................... 41
Figure 2.11. Options for Sage Gate Process ...................................................... 44
Figure 2.12. Pie Charts Depicting Activities in Each Stages ............................... 45
Figure 2.13. Khurana & Rosenthal FFE model ................................................... 47
Figure 2.14. Visual Depiction of the Delottie’s Spiral Model................................ 49
Figure 2.15. Visual Depiction of Koen’s NCD Model ........................................... 52
Figure 2.16. Visual Depiction of Husig, Kohn, and Poskela Model ..................... 55
Figure 2.17. Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll’s Funnel Model .................................. 56
Figure 2.18. Idea Creation in a Person’s Mind .................................................... 83
Figure 2.19. Activities Leading to the Creation of Ideas ...................................... 83
Figure 2.20. Unknown Activities which Lead to the Creation of an Idea ............. 84
Figure 2.21. Illustration of How Techniques are Embedded in Activities,............ 85
Figure 2.22. Illustration of the Contextual Research Process ............................. 92
Figure 2.23. Illustration of the Outcome-Based Innovation Process ................... 93
Figure 2.24. Illustration of the IDEO’s Idea Generation Process......................... 96
Figure 2.25. The Strategic Canvas from Blue Oceans Strategy with
Three Plotted Value Curves .......................................................................... 97
Figure 2.26. Illustration of a Blue Ocean Strategy Idea Generation Process ...... 98
Figure 2.27. Illustration of Flynn’s Idea Generation Process............................. 100
Figure 2.28. Modification of Flynn’s Idea Generation Process .......................... 101
Figure 2.29. Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll’s Idea Generation Process .............. 121
Figure 2.30. Bakker, Boersma, & Oreel Idea Storage Processes ..................... 124
Figure 3.1. Process Control Model ................................................................... 131
Figure 3.2. Process Control Model with formal input and process controls....... 131
xii

Figure Page
Figure 3.3. Continuous Idea Generation vs. Event Driven Idea Generation ..... 132
Figure 3.4. Idea Generation Triggered by Formal Events ................................. 134
Figure 3.5. Controlling Both Internally Idea Events an External Idea Events .... 136
Figure 3.6. Ideation Events Influence on Idea Generation ................................ 137
Figure 3.7. Controls over Sources of Ideas....................................................... 141
Figure 3.8. Controls over External and Internal Idea Generation ...................... 144
Figure 3.9. Screening and Filtering Located After Idea Generation Activities ... 145
Figure 3.10. Screening and Filtering in and After Idea Generation Activities .... 146
Figure 3.11. Points of Control in the Full Idea Generation Process .................. 147
Figure 3.12. Statistical Results from Adams-Bigelow Showing How Idea Were
Generated ................................................................................................... 149
Figure 3.13. Strategy’s Possible Influence on the Idea Generation Processes. 151
Figure 3.14. Strategic Idea Continuum ............................................................. 152
Figure 3.15. Control model for Idea Generation................................................ 153
Figure 3.16. Initial version of Glassman Model ................................................. 160
Figure 3.17. An Example of a Company’s Receptiveness to Outside Ideas at
Respective Levels of Concept Development .............................................. 165
Figure 3.18. An Example of a Company’s Receptiveness to Outside Ideas in
Different Innovation Categories .................................................................. 166
Figure 3.19. Illustration of the Idea Cloud, Idea Bank,
and Company Idea Bank ............................................................................ 174
Figure 3.20. Illustration of the Continuum of Idea Formality.............................. 175
Figure 3.21. Illustration of the Diversity of Idea Banks ...................................... 176
Figure 3.22. Illustration of Idea Bank Organized by Incremental
and Radical Ideas ....................................................................................... 177
Figure 3.23. Illustration of Idea Bank Organized by Innovation Category ......... 177
Figure 3.24. Idea Management Feeding Idea Back into Idea Generation to
Stimulate more ideas .................................................................................. 184
Figure 3.25. Diffusion Power Spectrum ............................................................ 185
Figure 3.26. How Portfolio Management Determines Options for New Projects
.................................................................................................................... 191
Figure 3.27. How Assessment of Idea Banks can be Used by Portfolio Managers
.................................................................................................................... 191
Figure 3.28. Late FFE Activities Linking to Screening and Filtering .................. 192
Figure 5.1. Vertical Packaging Machine with Integrated Scales ....................... 222
Figure 5.2. Conversion of Answers from Likert to Ordinal Scales ..................... 251
Figure 5.3. Distribution of Respondents’ Companies amongst their Respective
Industries .................................................................................................... 253
Figure 5.4. Distribution of Respondent’s Companies by Revenues and Number of
Employees .................................................................................................. 253
Figure 5.5. Distribution of Respondent’s Companies by Locations ................... 254
Figure 5.6. Respondents Organized by their Roles .......................................... 255
Figure 5.7. Correlations of the Satisfaction Variables ....................................... 256
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Figure Page
Figure 5.8. Correlation for Overall Satisfactions with the Idea Generation Process
.................................................................................................................... 257
Figure 5.9. Correlation of V48 Ability to Fill Front End Portfolio ........................ 258
Figure 5.10. Correlation of 51S Ability to Capture Ideas from Employees ........ 259
Figure 5.11. Correlations of 52S Ability to Capture Ideas from Outside Sources
.................................................................................................................... 259
Figure 5.12. Correlation of Dependent Development Variables ........................ 260
Figure 5.13. Correlations with Company Resources......................................... 260
Figure 5.14. Correlations of Activities to Quality of Ideas Generated................ 261
Figure 5.15. Correlation 0.851 Comparison with Model .................................... 263
Figure 5.16. Weak Correlation for Capturing Ideas from Employees ................ 264
Figure 5.17. Strong Correlation for Capturing Ideas from Employees .............. 265
Figure 5.18. Correlation for Capturing Ideas from Outsides Sources ............... 267
Figure 5.19. Correlation for Storing and Capturing Ideas.................................. 269
Figure 5.20. Correlation for Process Improvement ........................................... 269
Figure 5.21. Correlation for Development Activities .......................................... 272
Figure 6.1. Updated Glassman Model .............................................................. 283
xiv

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

FFE - fuzzy front end of the innovation process


PDMA - product development and management association
NPD - new product development process
CAP - Capitalization which defines the market value of the company
xv

ABSTRACT

Glassman, Brian Scott. Ph.D, Purdue University, May 2009.


Managing Idea Generation and Idea Management In Order to Better Manage
The Fuzzy Front End of the Innovation Process.
Major Professors: Linda Naimi and Michael Menefee.

An expansive review of the literature on the fuzzy front end of innovation, idea
generation, and idea management was conducted and is shown. Based on a
depth of understanding, a control model was developed to aid innovation
practitioners in effectively controlling the idea generation and idea management
processes.

This control model, named the Glassman Model for Managing Idea Generation,
was then validated in two studies. The first was the application of the control
model via analyzing, diagnosing, and making recommendations for three
companies outlined in three individual case studies. The second study used an
online survey to develop normative data and correlations on the idea generation
and idea management processes. Improvements were made to the model based
on lessons learned from the two studies. Both studies supported and validated
the model as containing the factors needed to manage these processes
effectively.
1

CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION

1.1. Statement of Research Problem, Background, and Context


The popular management of trends in the twentieth century towards improving
innovation is well founded because it is based on a company’s un-deniable need
to improve itself for the future (Collins, & Porras, 2002; Berkun 2007;
Christensen, & Raynor, 2003; Christensen, 2000; Drucker, 1985). Thousands, if
not hundreds of thousands, of articles, books, and publications, along with
conferences on the topic of innovation and the hundreds of innovation consulting
firms stress this point.
Out of the innovation literature, new product development has condensed
as a distinct field of research (Kahn, 2005; Belliveau, Griffen, Somermeyer, 2002;
Griffen, Somermeyer, 2007; Belliveau, 2004). Hallmark books on this subject by
authors such as Kahn (2005), Belliveau (2004), and Griffen & Somermeyer
(2007) reveal a large breadth of knowledge in this subject and cover areas
including management, processes, tools, resources, people, organizational
culture, and best practices for new product development.
On the process side, Koen (2005) breaks the innovation process “into
three areas: the Fuzzy front end (FFE), the New Product Development Portion
(NPD), and Commercialization” (Koen, 2005, p. 3).
2

Early phase of the


innovation process

Ideas for new


New product Market
product &
development Commercialization processes launch
Services
FFE Process

Decision

Figure 1.1. Koen’s breakup of the new product innovation processes

Of these areas, the fuzzy front end (coined by Smith & Reinerten in 1991)
according to Kahn is “an important issue in future research on product
development (Verwon, Herstatt, & Nagahira, 2008). Further, authors like
Backman, Borjesson, and Setterberg (2007) say, “the greatest opportunities for
improving the overall innovation process lie in the very early phases of NPD”
process being the fuzzy front end (p. 321). Hence, Zhan and Doll (2001) states,
“managers and researchers claim the benefits resulting from improvements in the
front [end] are likely to far exceed those that result from improvements aimed
directly at the design engineering process” (Koen, et al. 2001, p. 2).
Process models for the fuzzy front end highlight idea generation as being
a core activity (Hansen, & Birkinshaw, 2007; Khurana, & Rosenthal, 1998;
Gallagher, George, & Kadaki, 2006; Koen et al. 2001; Husig, Kohn, & Poskela,
2003; Hüsig & Kohn, 2003; Hüsig, Kohn, & Poskela, 2005; Flint, 2002). Simply
put, Vandenbosch, Saatcioglu, & Fay (2006) state that “each innovation begins
with an idea” (p. 12). Jack Foster (1996) asserts “new ideas are the wheel of
progress” (p. 3). Finally, Linda Rochford (1991) posits that “ideas are the raw
material for product development” (p. 4).
According to Stasch, Lonsdale, & LaVenka (1992), “the objective of all
idea-generating activities is to guarantee that the company does not leave the
exploration stage of new-product development to chance” (Stasch et al, 1992, p.
3

3). In addition, “organizations that are active in new product development work
must have a system of sorts to keep the flow of ideas coming” (McGuiness,
1998, p. 121). Tucker (2003) claims that idea generation is sometimes applied
sporadically inside companies. Gamlin, Yourd, & Patrick (2007) refer to Cooper’s
quote - “Idea generation is everyone's job and no one's responsibility" - when
they described how “no one individual in a company or business unit is
specifically in charge of idea generation, and often, when new ideas surface, no
action is taken” (Gamlin et al, 2007, p. 42).
There are several fully detailed process for idea generation (Ulwick, 2007;
Kelley & Littman, 2005; Kelley, Littman, & Peters, 2001; Kim, & Mauborgne,
2005; Conley, 2005; Flynn, Dooley, & O’Sullivan, 2003).
However, a detailed review of idea generation in Section 2.6 revealed a
gap in the literature being the total lack of knowledge on how to manage and
control the idea generation process. This represents a deep chasm in the
understanding of idea generation which must be filled.
Further, idea management and idea banks were also identified as a key
item of importance in the fuzzy front end, where its’ major functions are to
capture, store, and organize ideas (Flynn, Dooley, & O’Sullivan, 2003; Belliveau,
Griffin, & Somermeyer, 2002; Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll, 2006; Gorski,
&Heinekamp, 2002; Bakker, Boersma, & Oreel, 2006; Heck, 2005; Fritz, 2002;
Dijk, & van de Ende, 2002; Koen et al., 2001).
Price Waterhouse and Ernst & Young, “advocated that companies [should]
adopt processes to collect and preserve their internal ideas” (Fritz, 2002, p. 54).
This may be because many ideas are lost or dropped from internal sources or
because “firms overlook other employees as a source of creative ideas” (Flynn,
Dooley, & O’Sullivan, 2003, p. 17; Gorski, & Heinekamp, 2002).
Several fully detailed software tools for idea management and idea banks
which can be implemented directly (Moskowitz, 1997; Zien, & Buckler, 1997;
Gorski, & Heinekamp, 2002; Bakker, Boersma, & Oreel, 2006; Heck, 2005; Fritz,
2002; Dijk, & van de Ende, 2002; Koen et al. 2001). However, a detailed review
4

of idea management in Section 2.8 revealed a gap in the literature being the total
lack of knowledge on how to manage and control the ideas and idea banks. This
represents a deep chasm in the understanding on idea management which also
should be filled. Therefore, this research will examine how selected companies
manage and control the idea generation and idea management processes.

1.2. Importance and Significant of the Study


Innovation currently is an area of great interest among researchers and
management practitioners (Berkun 2007; Christensen, & Raynor, 2003; Kahn,
2005). In the innovation field, the fuzzy front end has been identified by experts
to be an important area of research. Zhan and Doll (2001) state that “managers
and researchers [who] claim the benefits resulting from improvement in the front
[end] are likely to far exceed those that result from improvements aimed directly
at the design engineering process” (Zhan and Doll, 2001, p. 52). Many authors
state the value of the fuzzy front end in the innovation processes (Backman,
Borjesson, & Setterberg, 2007; Koen, et al., 2001; Verwon, Herstatt, & Nagahira,
2008; Cooper, & Kleinschmidt, 1994; Kim, & Wilemon, 2002; Khurana, &
Rosenthal, 1998; Verwon et al., 2008).
The following examples illustrate that the front end can be improved
through improvements in the idea generation processes. MIT Technology’s
Review 2003 R&D scorecard survey of the top 318 companies in the world in ten
different industry showed that they cumulatively spent $274 billion on R&D with
$4.13 trillion in revenues. Increasing their R&D efficiency by 1% could
cumulatively save $2.7 billion. Conversely, increasing their return on their R&D
dollars by even 1% could cumulatively easily produce hundreds of billions in
additional revenue. Given this, one can see that even a small improvement to the
innovation process can produce tremendous results.
Additionally, the value of this study can be in the creation of new
knowledge and the aid it may offer practitioners. First, this research developed
and tested a viable control model (referred to within this study as the Glassman
5

Model for Idea Generation Management) to fill the gap in the literature on
managing idea generation and idea management. Second, the creation of new
knowledge will occur from developing, testing and supporting this model. Third,
the model is expected to aid practitioners in more effectively managing ideas and
idea generation. In addition, given research on previous front end models, it is
expected that the proposed Glassman model could be applicable in companies
of any country and any industry, and thus may have a global impact on
innovation practices.
In terms of research, this model may provide future researchers with a
model to study the effect of particular factors on the outcome of the idea
generation processes. Additionally, this model explains and contributes to other
works on innovation by tying together previously disparate activities and topics
like knowledge brokering (Hardagon, & Sutton, 2000), environmental scanning,
seeding ideas, and opportunity identification. Additionally, it may bring together a
more coherent view of the front end of innovation and its inter-workings.
As well, it will address randomness and the chaotic nature of the fuzzy
front end by giving innovation practitioners a means to turn idea generation into
and on demand activity.
Ideally, a properly designed control model for idea generation and idea
management could become another best practice model for innovation, which
will lead to greater recognition of the importance of managing innovation,
efficiency in the idea generation process and opportunities for further research
and funding.

1.3. Research Questions


A review of current practices suggests a lack of suitable control models for idea
generation and idea management. Further, the literature illustrates the lack of a
conceptual understanding of how to manage either idea generation or idea
6

management. Interestingly, both idea generation and idea management are


linked through front end processes (Alam, 2003; Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll,
2006; Flynn, Dooley, O’Sullivan, and Cormican’s, 2003). Hence, the following
study addressed these research questions:

1.) Based on a review of the literature, can a control model be developed to


aid in the conceptual understanding and management of idea generation and
idea management?

2) Can the developed control model be supported as capturing the required


factors needed to manage and control idea generation and idea management
effectively?

1.4. Assumptions
A number of assumptions have been made for the purpose of this research study
and are broken up into the major areas assumptions related to: 1) company’s
motives, strategies, and limitations, 2) communication and information, 3)
supporting the proposed model, and finally assumptions related to 4) behavior of
the employees.
The first set of assumptions are related to the company’s motives,
strategies, and limitations and start with the assumption that the company would
like to improve its’ innovation process and has access to people which can be
trained to manage the innovation process.
Next, it is assumed that innovation practitioners want to manage the front
end to achieve a specific set of business related goals to benefit the
shareholders (growth, profitability, competitive advantage, and so on). Thus they
do not innovate because it is entertaining and they enjoy experiments for the
sake of experimenting. For example Bose Company knowingly wastes millions of
dollars in R&D because the CEO enjoys playing with basic research. Next, it is
assumed that companies have a general strategy for innovation (grow offering,
7

develop a competitive edge, and so on) and that innovation practioners are
working towards and aligned with their company’s goals based on a general
innovation strategy.
Finally, it is assumed that companies have some sort of preference toward
certain types of ideas because of limitations in resources, capabilities, and
people. Thus, they do not have the ability to develop every idea that comes along
nor have the desire to do so.
The second set of assumptions relate to communication and information
sharing in the company. This starts with the assumption that a company may not
share particular ideas all their idea with employees for reasons of intellectual
property or trade secrets. Next, it is assumed innovation practitioners, in the front
end, are not restricted from accessing any information related to those processes
or ideas (total free communication), and that the product portfolio accurately
shows the current projects in the development pipeline.
The third set of assumptions relates to supporting the proposed model and
are innovation practitioners can: (1) promote events; (2) have control over the
execution of activities in the front end; (3) have the freedom to select employees
they choose; (4) have reasonable discretion over the use of resources given to
them for front end activities; (5) have a general understanding of their business
environment and companies strategy and needs; (6) are competent enough to
manage; (7) have limited control over people outside their company; (8) they
cannot control the company’s culture; and (9) finally are aligned with company
goals.
The final set of assumptions relates to behaviors of employees in the
company. It is assumed that innovation practitioners do not behave maliciously
and that they do not conduct front end activities their own benefits or for
malicious intents. Also it is assumed that employees and innovation practitioners
do not exercise their decisions based on irrational biases or determinable
psychological conditions.
8

1.5. Delimitations and Limitations


For the purposes of this study, the following delimitations are to be applied. First,
the following model will be directly applicable to companies in any country or
those which have formalized innovation process for creating new products and
service industry. Also the study supporting the proposed model may be applied
to companies which conduct innovation with a heavy emphasis on process-
based management.
Several limitations apply to this study. Since this study will require self-
reporting by respondents, the reported results may not be representative of the
respondent company’s actual behaviors or practices. In other words, the
respondents may knowingly or unknowingly falsify their responses.
Given the sample size, it is not reasonable to conduct on site visits to
validate the respondent’s answers; however, check questions will be put in place
to determine discrepancies and help indicate if respondents are being consistent.
Second, the proposed control model and supporting study will not take
into account company culture, or national culture because those factors cannot
be accurately gather through a survey and almost always require primary
research to accurately obtain.
9

CHAPTER 2. A COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

2.1. Literature Review of Ideas

“Man can live without air for a few minutes, without water
for about five days, without food for about two weeks, and
….without a new thought for years on end.” – Kent Ruth

2.1.1. Why does the Innovation Process Need Ideas?


The goal of a company’s innovation process is to create new products and
services, or improve operations, brand, customer’s experience, supply chain
operation, and so on. Yet, every one of the mentioned concepts starts as an
idea. Ideas are a core part of the innovation process. Vandenbosch, Saatcioglu,
& Fay (2006) states “each innovation begins with an idea”, and Jack Foster
(1996) asserts “new ideas are the wheel of progress” and Linda Rochford (1991)
ideas are the raw material for product development.” Logic says, all the current
products and services were once an idea in someone’s mind. Steven Covey
(2004) calls an idea the “first act of creation” where the second act of creation is
the deed of putting an idea into a physical form.”
Obviously, ideas are vital in the innovation process, and the following
references support this point (Verworn & Herstatt, 2001; Boeddrich, 2004; Hüsig
& Kohn, 2003; Hüsig, Kohn, & Poskela, 2005; Koen, 2005; Verworn & Herstatt,
2001; Alam, 2003; Stevens & Burley, 1997; Backman, Borjesson, & Setterberg,
2007; Rochford, 1991; Vandenbosch, Saatcioglu, & Sharon Fay, 2006; Montoya-
Weiss & O’Driscoll, 2006; Flint, 2002; Crawford, Di Benedetto, 2003; Doll, 2001;
Perk, Cooper, & Jones, 2005; McAdam & McClelland, 2002). Additionally, the
large amount of books, peer reviewed articles, magazine articles, and private
10

publications on ‘how to generate ideas’ illustrate the pressing need and growing
importance of ideas in the innovation process.
Finally, common sense says organizations need ideas for the future. They
need ideas to grow their company’s offerings, capabilities, and markets.
Interestingly, this researcher would love to meet the lonely executive who says
they “do not need any great ideas to save them money, grow their offerings, or
improve their operations.”

2.1.2. Value of Ideas


Mark Fritz eloquently demonstrated the value of ideas in his quote “The wheel,
the printing press, the light bulb, penicillin, the transistor, and every other great
human invention, discovery, or social advance started with a basic idea” (Foster,
1996, p. 24). Yet not all ideas are created equal. Museums, history books, and
TV shows all celebrate humanity’s greatest ideas, and yet most people seem to
think great ideas are somewhat rare. However, if one looks around and observes
the products and services they interact with on a daily basis, one can conclude
there have been many great ideas and perhaps great ideas are not as rare as
one might think.
In companies around the world, ideas are generated every day; however,
the subjective value of these ideas vary greatly and hence a portion of the
innovation literature looks at how to locate, screen, assess and filter out less
desirable ideas (Hüsig & Kohn, 2003*; Hüsig, Kohn, & Poskela, 2005; Koen,
2005; Cooper 1994, Verworn & Herstatt, 2001; Stevens & Burley, 1997;
Rochford, 1991). Mark Fritz adds “and yet we continue to treat ideas as easy-
come easy-go disposable items not deserving the same sort of attention or
respect we give other forms of intellectual property or knowledge – like
documents, for example” (Foster, 1996, p. 21).
New areas of study such as idea management and older areas like
creativity management and innovation management have studied how
companies create, deal with, and manage ideas. Without a doubt, ideas are
11

needed for innovation and that some ideas are more valuable than others.
However, prior to reviewing the research on idea management it may be very
helpful to understand what we mean by “ideas”.

2.1.3. Defining an Idea


Given that ideas are vital for innovation, it would be helpful to understand what
an idea is. Dictionary.com defines an idea as “any conception existing in the
mind as a result of mental understanding, awareness, or activity”. American
Heritage Dictionary states it as, “something, such as a thought or conception,
which potentially or actually exists in the mind as a product of mental activity.”
Neither of these definitions shed much light on what an idea is. Let us turn, then,
to Jack Foster’s discussion of ideas in his book entitled How to Get Ideas
(Foster, 1996).
Jack Foster (1996) discusses how others have defined ideas. For
example, James Webb Young, author of the book A Technique for Producing
Ideas (1992), said “an idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of
old elements” (Foster, 1996, p. 48). Robert Frost wrote: “What is an idea? If you
remember only one thing I’ve said, remember that an idea is a feat of
association” (Foster, 1996, p. 48). According to Francis H. Cartier, “there is only
one way in which a person acquires a new idea: by the combination or
association of two or more ideas he already had into a new juxtaposition in such
a manner as to discover a relationship amongst them of which he was not
previously aware” (Foster, 1996, p. 48). Jacques Hadamard, a famous
mathematician who proved chaotic theory, observed “that invention or discovery,
be it in mathematics or anywhere else, takes place by combining ideas” (Foster,
1996, p. 49). Arthur Koestler, author of the book The Act of Creation posited “the
thesis that creative originality does not mean creating or originating a system of
ideas out of nothing, rather out [it is] of a combination of well-establish patterns of
12

thought-by a process of cross-fertilization”, where one “uncovers, selects,


reshuffles, combines, synthesizes already existing facts, ideas, faculties, [and]
skills” (Foster, 1996, p. 49).
According to Jack Foster (1996), these definitions all highlight new ideas
as a recombination of elements of others ideas. Using the dictionary definitions
one can deduct that ideas come from people (not machines or computers) and
are a result of mental activities. Hence this researcher defines a new idea as
being conceived as a result of mental activities where previous knowledge,
information, facts, or ideas were recombined and associated in some way to form
the new idea. To further support this definition, we can try a quick experiment
where we think of an idea for a new pen. Regardless, of what type of new pen
idea we produce, we can recount it as a combination of the basic thought of a
pen and some other idea or concept. For Example:

Pen + comfort + pad = pen with a soft grip pad


Pen + color + change in temperature = pen in which ink acts like a thermometer
Pen + sound + color = pen changes color by voice activation

2.1.4. Narrowing the Definition of Ideas


What types of ideas are there? Jack Foster (1996) discusses a variety of ideas
by saying, “there are ideas for all kinds of things, idea to solve problems, ideas to
help people, ideas to save and fix and create things, ideas to make things better
and cheaper, and idea the enlighten, invigorate, inspire, enrich, and embolden”
(Foster, 1996, p. 52).Obviously the definition of an idea is very broad and can
include anything from the idea of brushing one’s teeth in the morning to the ideas
of Adam Smith in his book, The Wealth of Nations (1776).
Since this thesis deals primarily with a company’s innovation process, it is
important to define ideas. For the purpose of this research, ideas refer to
opportunities, concepts or ideas which can create value for a company. article
by Sawhney, Wolcott, & Arroniz’s (2006) cites twelve areas of innovation. This
13

article offers a great means to categorize ideas for increasing the value of a
company. Sawhney et. al. (2006) discusses innovation in the following areas:

1) Offering – products and services offered by the company


2) Platform – building blocks that can span across several of the firms’
offering
3) Solution – an integrated blend of products and services that solve a
customer’s problems
4) Customer – discovering new customers segments and groups,
uncovering unmet needs
5) Customer experience – the experience the customer has with the
companies offerings
6) Value capture – new revenue streams, changing how the customer pays,
new price systems
7) Processes –new processes or improvements in current processes’
efficiency or effectiveness
8) Organization – changes in the organization’s forum, function, structure,
and management
9) Supply chain – activities providing goods, services, and info to the firm
and customer
10) Presence – points were the customer has contact or access to the firms
products or services
11) Networking – the way company and its’ products and service are
connected to the customer
12) Brand – the symbols, words, marks, culture, and image the firm portrays
to the world
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Rochford, (1991) suggest a similar categorization of innovations:


1) Management – organizational structure, management processes, policies
2) Strategy – how the company plans future actions
3) Employees – attracting, acquiring, retaining, training, socializing, and
motivating employees
4) Products & Services – similar to above
5) Processes – similar to above
6) Tool – the gear, machinery, models, theories, practices used by the
company
7) Technologies – the technology used and created by the firm or for the
customer
8) Suppliers – finding, selecting, leveraging, enhancing suppliers to the
company
9) Market distribution – methods of finding, distributing, delivering, supplying
the customers and
10) Brand – similar to above.

There are visible differences between the above two categorizations;


however, both demonstrate ideas create value in a variety of forms. In later
discussions on new product development it may be helpful for the reader to
restrict the scope of ideas to those which relate to new offerings. Ideas related to
offerings can be anything from a minor tweak of a product (like its color) all the
way to a release of a new product technology which creates a new market.

2.1.5. Terminology
In reviewing the literature, this researcher has noticed many articles on idea
generation may not use the word “idea”. Subsequently there are several words
which have been interchanged with the word idea such as: invention, concept,
innovation which in essence mean the same thing. Some articles prefer to use
15

the term “concept” (Backman, Borjesson, & Setterberg, 2007; Wagener &
Hayashi, 1994). Some prefer “innovation”. Some prefer the word “opportunity”.
The term, “concept”, is often interchanged with the word “idea”, but it has
a slightly different meaning. Concept generally refers to “a set of proposed
solutions complying with a set of fixed constraints” (Backman, Borjesson, &
Setterberg, 2007, p. 86). Articles like Backman, et al. (2007) and (Crawford, Di
Benedetto, 2003) use the term concept instead of the term idea.
Similarly the term “opportunity” is interchanged with the word “idea”.
Vandenbosch, et al. (2006) state that “ideas and opportunities are intertwined.
Recognizing or creating an opportunity is an occasion for generating or testing an
idea; an idea may lead to an opportunity and it may require an idea to capitalize
on an opportunity” (Vandenbosch et al, 2006, 371). Researchers should note that
in the literature, the use of the term “idea” can be spotty in relation to methods for
generation of ideas for new products or services.
To help refine the terminology associated with a project in the new product
development process Merle Crawford, and Anthony Di Benedetto (2003)
proposed the “concept life cycle model” in the figure below. This model showed
the evolution of the terms associated with a project as it met given requirements.
This strict model for the terminology associated with a project show the
terminology for an idea changes as the idea is developed. Appendix A described
each of the twelve terms in this model.
16

High

Successful
Market concept

Pilot concept

Processes concept
Clarity Batch concept

Prototype concept
Protocol concept
Defined concept
Test concept
Stated concept
Idea concept
Opportunity concept

High
Market Value

Figure 2.1. Concept Life Cycle Model

It is questionable whether new product development practioners will


adhere to any strict terminology. Further, the concept life cycle model may not be
followed linearly by practitioners. For example some R&D labs are known for
having prototype concepts, being a tentative physical product, including feature
and benefits, prior to having protocol concept, being a statement of the intended
market user, the problem perceived, and the user benefit.
Nonetheless, for this thesis the word ‘idea’ was chosen over the word
‘concept.’ This way the reader will not have to memorize the terms shown in the
above figure 2.1. Further, the level of an idea’s development will be clarified. For
example, an idea may be in the commercialization phase or be successfully
launched by a competitor. This should also remind the readers of the value that
ideas have in the innovation process.

2.1.6. New and Old Ideas


Another way one can look at an idea is “if the idea is new or old.” It is often
thought that a company needs to come up with new ideas, but one should not
forget old ideas may work just as well. For example, say a manager was
17

generating ideas about how to motivate his employees. Old ideas like ‘paying
more’ or ‘conducting moral surveys’ work just as well, or even better, than a new
idea like building ‘a in house gym.’ Vandenbosch, Saatcioglu, and Fay (2006)
observe that “not all ideas are creative, nor do they have to be. In fact, successful
managers often rely on old, ordinary ideas or new, but imperfect one to cope with
the challenges they face” (p. 95).
In new product development there is an often unsaid assumption that all
newly release products should be based on new ideas. This assumption is based
on the view that customers want new things. But what often is disputed is the
meaning of new. Is the product idea new to the market, new to the world, or new
to a company? Rochford discusses this in some detail. A product can be “new”
in the sense it is either: (1) new to the firm, taking the company into new markets,
new technologies, or new production methods; (2) new to the market, the first of
its kind, what some call an innovation; or (3) new in the sense it is better for the
customer with the product yielding some net benefit to the customer. For the
intentions of this study, a new product will be defined as a product not previously
manufactured by the firm. In other words, a product is new to the firm (Rochford,
1991).
This researcher has selected new to the firm as the definition of new ideas
for this thesis. This was chosen for the three following reasons: 1) managers
often mistakenly think the product idea is new, 2) managers apply the word new
to their project to improve their social image inside the company 3) because
companies’ often increase the attractiveness of their products and services to
customer by promoting it as new.

2.1.7. Summary of Literature Review on Idea


In summary, there is a strong need for ideas so a company can grow and
develop. This requires the innovation processes to generate or obtain ideas,
where the innovation will then use these ideas to grow the company’s offering,
improve operations, improve the brand image, improve the customer experience
18

and ensure sustainability. We have defined an idea as the result of the brain’s
activities in which previous knowledge or ideas are recombined in a way forming
a new concept. The definition was further specified to describe an idea as
creating value for a company. And in specific instances of new product
development, an idea is any changes to or new product or services offered by
the company.
This section also alerts future researchers to the fact that the word “idea”
may be interchangeable with words like innovation, concept, opportunity,
technology, offerings, and other. Thus future research on things like idea
generation should take these keywords into account in their searches. Finally,
this researcher discusses new and old idea, and fell on his definition of a new
idea as being “an idea which is new to the firm.”

2.2. The Evolution of the Innovation Process

2.2.1. The Importance of Innovation


The study of innovation has gained much notoriety since the 1980s, for good
reason. Companies now realize more than ever that their ability to innovate so
strongly affects their company’s future. Books with titles like “Innovate or Die” by
Jack & Matson (1996) and quotes by greats like Drucker (1985a) ‘company have
two functions innovation and marketing everything else is just expenses’ are just
a few of the messages in the popular media which blasts that innovation is vital.
Almost all articles or books on innovation open with statistics on the value
of innovation, or logic of how innovation creates tomorrow, or even strong winded
stories of innovative companies perpetuating throughout the decades while their
competitors die off. As well, conferences around the world on the topic of
innovation, and hundreds of top management consulting firms with department
19

specializing in innovation attest to innovation’s vital function in the businesses of


today. Magazines like MIT’s Technology Review (2003) even track and rate
yearly the top R&D spenders an achiever in each industry.
Hence it would be trivial and even redundant to open with a couple
paragraphs restating the value of innovation. Funny enough, this researcher has
yet to see an article asserting that innovation is not all as important as the
popular management trends makes it out to be. Nonetheless, this researcher
must say “innovation is important and must not be ignored.”

2.2.2. A Quick History of Innovation and R&D: A Process Perspective


It is amazing how fast and how far society has advanced over the last two
centuries from the horse and carriage to landing on mars, from living in dark
candle lit wooden houses to the luminous glamour of New York’s time square
skyscrapers. With all these advances it is funny to think that the formal study of
management did not even exist until Frederick Talyor launched the movement of
scientific management in 1911. So looking back, it is amazing that the first and
second industrial revolutions (1st from 1760 to 1850 and 2nd 1860 to 1900) were
achieved without any formal knowledge of management or innovation (Ashton
1997).
Similarly, the study of R&D management is relatively young since it was
started around 1920s or 1930s. The first accounts of a true R&D lab mentioned
in the literature are that of Thomas Edison’s in Menlo Park, New Jersey. As
Andrew Hargadon (2000) posit:

From 1876 to 1881, Thomas Edison in his Menlo Park, New Jersey
laboratory produced one innovation after another: high-speed,
automatic, and repeating telegraphs; telephones; phonographs;
generators; light bulbs and vacuum pumps. Edison built the
laboratory, in his own words, for the “rapid and cheap development
of an invention” and promised “a minor invention every ten days
and a big thing every six months or so.” And he delivered. In a
20

single six-year period the laboratory generated over 400 patents


and became known worldwide as an invention factory. - The Menlo
Park laboratory was one of the first dedicated research and
development facilities. Over a century later, it remains the model for
R&D in modern firms (Hargadon, 2000, p. 3).

Figure 2.2. Early R&D process

The early innovation process is depicted in the figure above and it


includes generating the ideas, testing the ideas, developing the ideas, and even
launching the ideas to market. It is thought the process was managed by a
primary stake holder (like Thomas Edison) where they eliminate poor project, and
decide how to advance others (Axelrod, 2008).
As one can see, much of the process was not formalized and depended
highly upon a knowledgeable stakeholder. Hargadon mentions in his articles on
knowledge brokering that the Menlo Park lab was a room full of bright inventors
and engineers from many disciplines who talked a lot about inventions and
technology, were close, constantly experimenting, prototyping, and working
towards making world altering technologies, which they did.
At some point later, possibly in the 1930 or 1940s, companies started
adopting the concept of a funnel in their R&D process. The funnel helped
manage cost and control risk while opening up the option for evaluating and
developing many ideas. Think of it as a literal funnel where the front end catches
many ideas, and eventually through the R&D process is funneled down to a few
preferable ideas.
21

Input:
R&D funnel Output: Market
Ideas

Figure 2.3. R&D Funnel

This concept greatly allows companies to explore their options while


managing risk and cost. Remember as an idea progresses through the R&D
process it accumulates greater and greater expenses. Thus, using the funnel
concept to weed out less preferable ideas helped manage cost and reduce new
product risk.
Later yet, around the 1930s or 1940s the above process was split up into
two parts 1) R&D process and 2) new product development and
commercialization processes. The R&D process was a highly random process of
discovery where the new product development processes’ was a controlled way
of developed products and services for the market. The first processes opened
up options for the company where the second analyzed, selected, and developed
the best options.

Input: Output: Discovery in


R&D funnel
Research knowledge, Inventions,
New ideas for product or
services
Idea for new
New product
product & Commercialization
development Market launch
Services
Decision point

Figure 2.4. R&D Funnel and New Product and Commercialization Processes
22

For the most part, these were different processes, with the R&D funnel
focusing on creating discoveries in understanding, creating new knowledge,
generating novel inventions, generating new product ideas, and figuring out
where to look next. The ideas from the R&D process along with other were then
feed into the new product development processes. Again the new product
development processes function similarly to the R&D funnel described above.
Companies like IBM, Xerox, and Bell Labs were famous for having their
R&D divisions filled with geniuses and brainiacs which came up with new far-out
inventions and discoveries. Some discoveries were so great that many
researchers were awarded Nobel prizes. Figure 2.4 shows the second process
divided into new product development and commercialization. The line between
those processes represents a formal point of evaluation so that projects can be
stopped before they enter the commercialization phase. This keeps poor projects
from advancing to the commercialization phase where expenses increase
considerably. Many companies do not have the resources to support a research
division and thus typically use a new product development and commercialization
process for innovation.
The next major change in the process was the addition of the “fuzzy front
end (FFE)” by Smith and Reinertsen in 1991 and is illustrated in Figure 2.5.

Ideas for new New product


product & development Commercialization processes Market launch
FFE
Services
Decision

Figure 2.5. Addition of the Fuzzy Front End

Murphy & Kumar (1997) state the fuzzy front end “ranges from the
generation of an idea to either it approval for development or its termination”, and
is “often chaotic, unpredictable, and unstructured” (p. 32).
23

The goal of the fuzzy front end is to reduce uncertainty about an idea and
develop it into a concept which could be entered into the new product
development process (see definition of a concept in Appendix A). The fuzzy front
end will be mentioned at length in Sections 2.3, 2.4, and 2.5 of this thesis.
The next major development was the introduction of the stage-gate
process by Robert Cooper (2008). The stage-gate process split the new product
development process up into multiple stages where at the end of each stage
there was a formal decision point being a gate. Each gate provided the stake
holders an opportunity to evaluate a project, and then make a decision to either
end/kill the project, or advance the project to the next stage. Killing a project was
accomplished by denying funding or removing resource.
The stage-gate process served as both a guide, by requiring specific goals
to be met at the end of each stage, and a means of controlling risk, by eliminating
poor projects as more information emerged. Each stage had goals like, to have a
working prototype or proof of market demand.
Again, if the goals were not met the project would not move into the next
stage. The concepts of State-gate truly revolutionize the NPD process.

Idea for new


product & Stage Gate
Commercialization Market launch
Services process for NPD Process
FFE

Decision
Expenses associate
Relative

with a project

Expenses increase as project


proceed

Stage in

Figure 2.6. State-Gate Process in the Overall Development Process and a


Map of Project Costs as the Project Progresses
24

Figure 2.6 above represents the current best practices model for
developing product and services. Amazingly, according to research by Hsiao &
Chou (2004), 40% of the companies surveyed had no formalized product
development. This means that 60% of companies report having some type of
product development process. Further, it is not known what percentage is of
companies are utilizing the current best practice model, as shown above. Some
companies may include the R&D basic research process in their development
process, but most usually keep it separate from the process shown in Figure 2.6.
Typically only new product and service ideas move through the above
mentioned processes. Other ideas, like those for process or manufacturing
improvement, move through a separate process such as Kazian or total quality
management and other ideas, like branding or value capture, may be developed
through their own unique processes.
The market launch process shown in Figure 2.6 is depicted as an
expanding cone to denote the additional costs and activities associated with a
market launch. Further, the chart in Figure 2.6 shows generally how expenses
rise in each respective stage. Current development models try to reduce risk and
uncertainty while expanding options for a company.
A recent article in Harvard Business review, entitled the “Innovation Value
Chain” by Hansen & Birkinshaw (2007), shows the innovation process as a
series of linked processes, where if any link is weak the whole innovation
processes is negativity affected. They emphasize that there are “no universal
solutions for organizations wanting to improve their ability to generate, develop,
and disseminate new ideas” (p. 15). As well, they emphasize “managers need to
take an end-to-end view of their innovation efforts, to pinpoint their particular
weakness, and tailor their best practices appropriate to their deficiencies.”
25

Figure 2.7. Innovation Value Chain

Figure 2.7 shows the innovation value chain as being divided into the
three major areas of idea generation, conversion, and diffusion. Idea generation
is composed of generating ideas in-house; cross-pollination is getting different
divisions and units to collaborate to combined knowledge and insight; and
external sourcing is getting ideas from outside the organization.
Conversion is composed of selection and development. Selection is
screening idea, analysis idea, and initiating funding for given ideas. Development
is transforming an idea or concept into the required final form. Finally, diffusion
involves spreading the idea around the organization so that the crucial share
holders involved in the market launch and operational activities commit to the
idea.
The innovation value chain model is not so much a process model as a
model describing the vital goals in each phase. The innovation value chain can
also be used to analyze how the best practices models fit and is performing in a
company’s development process. For example, the stage-gate process can be
seen to fit in both the selection and development areas. Whereas the PAC
approach, in which a product approval committee is used to select and screen
projects, would only be applicable to the selection of projects and cannot be used
to guide development (Koen 2005). One can see the genius in leaving the model
broad because it allows a company to tune its innovation value chain to the most
effective processes instead of blindly following the best practices models.
26

Hansen & Birkinshaw (2007) focused on diagnosing a company’s


innovation value chain, which is very helpful because few articles offer any
diagnostics tools for innovation. They described different deficiencies in
companies as delineated below:
1) Idea-poor companies are company, which spends a lot of time and
money developing and diffusing mediocre ideas which result in
mediocre products and financial returns. The problem is in idea
generation, not execution.
2) Conversion-poor companies has lots of good ideas, but managers
don’t screen and develop them properly. Instead, ideas die in
budgeting processes which emphasize the incremental and the certain,
not the novel.
3) Diffusion-poor companies have trouble monetizing their good ideas.

Of course a company can be weak in any one or more of these areas, hence the
authors offer references to other articles which discuss solution to improving a
specific part of the innovation value chain. Finally, the article ends by stating that
companies should benchmark and record statistics on each part of their
innovation value chain, so they can monitor performance and make specific
improvements.

2.3. Research on the Fuzzy Front End

2.3.1. Intro to Section on Fuzzy Front End


The term the ‘fuzzy front end’ is ambiguous and may elicit many questions like,
“what does the term mean?”, “what take place in the fuzzy front end?”, “why is it
important to research?” or “why should innovation practitioners care about it?”
This chapter addresses many of these questions and attempts to clarify what the
fuzzy front end is, and what type of research has been done on it to date.
27

2.3.2. Terminology for the Fuzzy Front End


As mentioned, the beginning of the innovation process is the main focus of this
thesis; however it goes by many names. The term the fuzzy front end was
popularized by Smith and Reinertsen in 1991, and was used since the word
“fuzzy” describes how chaotic, unpredictable, and uncertain this part of the
innovation processes can be (Koen 2005). However, there are several other
terms which were applied to describe this phase of innovation such the ones
listed below.
Front end of innovation,(Nobelius, 2000; Front End of Innovation
Conference, 2008; Koen, 2005; Koen, 2001) Early stages of the product
development (Nobelius, 2000; Khurana and Rosenthal,1998), early phases of
innovation (REF C3), early innovation phases (Lichtenthaler, Savioz,
Birkenmeier, & Brodbeck,2004), Pre-development (Hüsig & Kohn, 2003),
advanced development, Pre-project activities, (Hüsig & Kohn, 2003), Pre-phase
0, (Khurana and Rosenthal,1998).
The fuzzy front end of innovation or, for the sake of brevity, ‘front end of
innovation or FFE’ has many definitions in the literature, most of which define it
by stating the type of activities which take place in it. Basically, FFE involves
“activities taking place prior to the formal, well-structured new product process
development” (Koen, 2005; Koen et al., 2001, p. 3). Other similar definitions are
Reid & Brentani’s (2004) where the FFE “is considered to be the earliest stage of
the new product development (NPD) process and roughly is meant to denote all
the time and activities spent on an idea prior to the first official group meeting to
discuss it or what they call ‘the start date for team alignment” p. 5). Others
define it in terms of the activities which take place. Murphy & Kumar (1997)
define the front end as ranging “from the generation of an idea to either its
approval for development or its termination” (Verworn & Herstatt, 2001, p. 53).
A lengthier definition by Crawford and Di Benedetto (2000) is the fuzzy
front end’s “early activities are broad and include opportunity identification and
exploration, while later activities consist of information collection and concept
28

development preparing it for the transfer into the NPD process” (Backman,
Borjesson, & Setterberg, 2007). Yet, Khurana & Rosenthal define the front end
“to include product strategy formulation and communication, opportunity
identification and assessment, idea generation, product definition, project
planning, and executive reviews” (Verworn & Herstatt, 2001, p. 83). As well, Kim
& Wilemon (2002) define the FFE as “when an opportunity is first considered
worthy of further ideation, exploration, an assessment, and ends when a firm
decides to invest in the idea, commit significant resources to its development,
and launch the project (Kim & Wilemon, 2002, p. 31). Finally, Hüsig and Kohn
(2003) and have the most elaborate activity based definition of the FFE which
has lists of both exclusive and inclusive activities. Yet a comparison of the fuzzy
front end to the NPD process in table form seems to be one of the best ways to
understand what the fuzzy front end is, see Tables 2.1 & 2.2 below.

Table 2.1. Koen et al. Activities in the Front End of Innovation

and New Product Development Processes


29

Table 2.2. Koen et al. Factors and Characteristics of the Front End of Innovation
and New Product Development Processes

2.3.3. Activities in the Front End of Innovation


The activity-based definitions can give one a slight understanding for the
activities which take place in the FFE; however, further clarification is needed.
According to Verworn & Herstatt (2001), the tasks in the FFE are, “product
strategy formulation, communication, opportunity identification and assessment,
idea generation, product definition, project planning, and executive review”
(Verworn & Herstatt, 2001, p. 383). Cooper’s (1988) article concludes the main
activities are generation of ideas, initial screening, preliminary evaluation, and
concept evaluation” (p.11). Similarly, Hüsig and Kohn (2003) states general
phases for the FFE being “1) idea phase 2) feasibility and potential phase and 3)
concept development phase. Interestingly, thi
thiss Husig, Kohn, & Poskela (2005)
state:

Activities do not occur in a specific order: It is important to note that


these three different phases and gates differ from the normal stage-
gate process in some extent. First of all they are not a sequential
order of activities that are followed through like in the following
development process. This can happen, but in general the teams
30

working in the front-end works on several parallel projects, and


redirects ideas and concepts from one stage to another. While in
the development stage-gate process the redirection of projects is
more an exception, it is more the rule in the front-end (Hüsig and
Kohn, 2003, p. 11).

Furthermore,
Concept and ideas merge, and activities are continuous in nature:
for each opportunity that seems worth pursuing several ideas will
be developed. Those ideas will be combined to one or more
concepts. This implies that the subject of analysis keeps changing
over the process. Therefore this process model is rather a
representation of continuous activities that permanently go on in
order to fill the NPD pipeline (Hüsig and Kohn, 2003, p. 14).

This researcher strongly agrees that the activities of the FFE do not occur
in a specific order, partially because of the work of Koen et. al. (2001) but also
because of the large observed variation in activities noted in case studies on the
FFE. This researcher also strongly agrees with the continuous nature of the FFE,
which is also represented in Koen et al’s model.

2.3.4. Importance of the FFE


One might ask what is the importance of the fuzzy front end in the innovation
process. Kahn the editor of PDMA handbook (2003) and an authority on
innovation and new product development states that he “sees the front end as an
important issue in future research on product development 2003” (Verwon,
Herstatt, & Nagahira, 2008). Also, “Rice calls the fuzzy front end ‘the root of
success’ for discontinuous product innovation” (Verwon et al., 2008, p. 32). More
importantly, an extensive empirical study by Cooper & Kleinschmidt (1994)
showed, “the greatest differences between winners and losers were found in the
quality of execution of pre-development activities” (Verworn & Herstatt, 2001, p.
43).
31

Furthermore, Backman, Borjesson, and Setterberg (2007) posit that “the


greatest opportunities for improving the overall innovation process lie in the very
early phases of NPD” process (Backman, Borjesson, and Setterberg, 2007, p.
52). Hence, Zhan and Doll (2001) states, “managers and researchers claim the
benefits resulting from improvement in the front are likely to far exceed those that
result from improvements aimed directly at the design engineering process”
(Zhan & Doll, 2001, p. 73).
Kim and Wilemon (2002) state “the importance of the FFE lies in the fact
that effectively performing front-end activities can contribute directly to the
success of a new product” (p. 32, Cooper 1988, 1998; Dwyer & Mellor 1991;
McGuiness & Conway 1989). As well they state, “one can find several low cost
opportunities to achiever large improvement in time-to-market” (Kim & Wilemon,
2002, p. 33).
However, only a few references state why it is so important. To prove the
value of the FFE Cooper and Kleinschmidt (1994) found that pre-development
activities received the least amount of attention (only at 6% of dollars and 16% of
man-days of the total) when compared to the product development and
commercialization stages. Interestingly, when they compared successes to
failures they found about twice as much money and time is spend for the front
end stages. Although the importance of the early development phase is
recognized, researchers and practitioners still focus on the later phases of the
innovation process, where information is more reliable (Verworn & Herstatt,
2001). It seems there are some concerns related to failure rates of projects in the
FFE as alluded to by Khurana & Rosenthal (1998) who commented that “most
projects do not fail at the end; they fail at the beginning” (Khurana & Rosentha,
1998, p. 1).
Unfortunately, a review of the literature failed to produce a list of
compelling reasons which support the importance of the FFE. Thus, this study
begins with developing categories that reasonably capture the importance of the
FFE. The first category of reasons concerns the costs involved in the innovation
32

processes. As mentioned above, a single idea may be cheap to develop and


analyze in the FFE but as Cooper and Kleinschmidt state cumulatively
developing and analyzing many ideas over time may show the FFE is a larger
expense than previously thought.
Second, the fuzzy front end is directly responsible for getting valuable
ideas into the innovation value chain or new product development (NPD)
processes. The old adage ‘trash in trash out’ applies well to the innovation
processes. The value and quality of the ideas going into the new product
development process is a major limiting factor affecting the quality of products
and services ready for market launch. Thus, researching the FFE to determine
how to get a high quality stream of ideas into the NPD processes is a creditable
research goal.
Third, it is clear that in reducing the amount of uncertainty through the FFE
activities, we achieve better results in terms of concepts, project plans, and
selections of tasks for the project as it moves into the new product development
process. In other words, the more information a new product team knows, and
the less uncertainty they have, the better they can optimize costs and plans for
subsequent new product development activities.
Lastly, the organizational fit and organization’s commitment to a new idea
is the final category of importance for FFE. Having a deep understanding of the
fuzzy front end will allow companies to generate ideas, then select or screen
ideas and concepts which fit with the company’s capabilities and strategies. As
well, it will allow companies to put in place the people, management, teams,
culture, incentives, and other mechanisms which are considered vital to obtained
ideas and pushing them through to market launch.

2.3.5. Deliverable at the End of the Fuzzy Front End


One might move on to ask, “What are the deliverables at the end of the fuzzy
front end?” And it is unfortunate, but this question has not been answered in
much detail in the literature. Cooper (1993) says, “one goal of the FFE is the
33

creation of a well defined product concepts prior to development” which seem


obvious given the NPD process requires a clear concept to proceed (p. 13). This
statement corresponds to Murphy & Kumar’s (1997) quote “empirically [it was]
found that the most important objective of the FFE is to understand project
requirements and … to have a clearly defined product [concept] prior to
development” (p. 1). Kim & Wilemon (2002) add the “selection of the right
opportunity” should also be an outcome (p. 3). Unlike others, Koen et al. (2001)
adds that an output for FFE should be the generation of intellectual property.
A review of the literature suggests several deliverables:
1) a clear product concept
2) knowledge and understanding required to develop the product concept
3) selection of the right/best idea/concepts
4) a strong business case
5) a development plan required to managed the NPD activities, and
6) assets such as intellectual property or working prototypes.

Deliverables for the FFE may vary widely from industry to industry. This is
because there are large differences in the expenses associated with NPD
phases amongst different industries. For example a fashion design firm may only
require a set of sketches to move a new line concept into the NPD processes;
whereas, a microchip manufacture may require a patentable invention, a clear
product concept, and proof of market demand prior to allowing the large cost of
the NPD process to be incurred. Nonetheless, it would be interesting to see a
comparative study of the require deliverables at the end of the FFE process.

2.3.6. Structured vs. Unstructured Fuzzy Front End


There has been some debate over whether a structured or unstructured fuzzy
front end was better for front end success. Some researchers argued that a
structured FFE was preferable (Hüsig & Kohn, 2003; Deliotte, 2006; Kahn,
Kucmarski, & Johnston, 2005; Flint 2002) while others argued un-structured was
34

preferable (Verworn & Herstatt, 2001). However, it seems this question has been
laid to rest by Husig, Kohn, & Poskela’s (2005) article in which they empirically
showed that having a structured front end creates better FFE results.
Interestingly, they mentioned financial success as a poor indicator for the
success of FFE, because of the large lag time associated with it. Also financial
success depended upon the processes after the FFE as was mentioned in the
innovation value chain article. Husig, Kohn, & Poskela (2003) used the following
measures of success for the FFE as being: (1) the number patents per
employee, (2) improved technical info, (3) better market information, (4)
managers more satisfied with the results FFE of the NPD, and (5) a better patent
portfolio.
The study supported the finding that structured FFE processes resulted in:
better technical and market info, created more satisfying FFE results for the NPD
managers, and better patent portfolios. Interestingly, they found that basing
results on the number of patents generated by employees was a bad measure of
success because each industry produces different number of patents.
Nonetheless, one of the underlying goals of the study of management is to
provide a means of controlling and managing activities inside a business, thus
even something as chaotic as the fuzzy front end can benefit from further
analysis.

2.3.7. Quick Review of Research on the Fuzzy Front End


To date (2008) there has been a fair bit of research conducted on the fuzzy front
end (FFE); however, in comparison to the research on the new product
development process, the FFE is relatively lightly researched. The type of
research in the FFE includes: theoretical pieces, case studies, primary survey
research, and applications of particular methods. Please note any reference with
an asterisk (**) next to it represents a comprehensive reference on that topic
area.
35

Ø Culture of the FFE (Hüsig & Kohn, 2003**; Koen, 2005; Zien & Buckler,
1997**; Kohn, Ernst, & Husig; 2006**, Koen et all 2003**)
Ø Management of the FFE (Kim & Wilemon, 2002**; Hüsig & Kohn, 2003**;
Hüsig, Kohn, & Poskela, 2005; Chang, Chen & Wey, 2007**)
Ø Strategy in the FFE (Verworn & Herstatt, 2001; Hüsig & Kohn, 2003**;
Cooper, 1998**, Copper, 1984c)
Ø Screening of idea in the FFE (Kim & Wilemon, 2002; Hüsig, Kohn, &
Poskela, 2005; Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll, 2006; Flint, 2002; Koen et al.,
2001; Cooper, 1998)
Ø Resource for FFE activities (Koen, 2005; Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll,
2006; Zien & Buckler, 1997; Adam-Bigelow, 2003**)
Ø Processes and activities in the FFE (Verwon, Herstatt, & Nagahira,
2008; Kim & Wilemon, 2002; Hüsig & Kohn, 2003**; Alam, 2003**;
Moskowitz,1997).
Ø Planning (Hüsig, Kohn, & Poskela, 2005)
Ø Uncertainty & analysis (Verwon, Herstatt, & Nagahira, 2008; Kim &
Wilemon, 2002; Hüsig, Kohn, & Poskela, 2005; Montoya-Weiss &
O’Driscoll, 2006; Flint, 2002; Koen et al., 2001; Cooper, 1998)
Ø People in the FFE activities (Kim & Wilemon, 2002; Hüsig & Kohn, 2003;
Hüsig, Kohn, & Poskela, 2005; Stevens, Burley, Divine, 1999**)
Ø Communication in the FFE (Reid & Brentani, 2004; Hüsig & Kohn, 2003;
Moenaert, Meyer, Souder, & Deschoolmeester, 1995)
Ø Teams in the FFE (Kim & Wilemon, 2002; Hüsig & Kohn, 2003**;
Stevens, Burley, & Divine, 1999)
Ø Idea generation in the FFE (Hüsig & Kohn, 2003; Hüsig, Kohn, &
Poskela, 2005; Flint, 2002; Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll, 2006**)
Ø Success Factors for the FFE (Verworn & Herstatt, 2001; Hüsig & Kohn,
2003**, Cooper & Kleinschmidt 1993 c, 1995 a, b, c,
Ø Learning effect in the FFE (Verworn & Herstatt, 2001)
36

Hüsig & Kohn’s (2003) article entitled “Factors influencing the front end of the
innovation process” is a comprehensive review of selected empirical NPD and
explorative FFE studies up till 2003. Anyone seeking an overview of research on
the FFE or a specific set of references on a particular FFE area is recommended
toward this article.

2.3.8. Summary of Research on the FFE


To summarize, this section started by reviewing several terms used to describe
the fuzzy front end, where in this thesis the terms “front end of innovation”, “fuzzy
front end” and “FFE” will be used. Second, a range of definitions were reviewed,
of which this researcher preferred the definition of the FFE to be “the set of
activities taking place prior to the formal, well-structured new product
development process.” Third, the importance of the fuzzy front end was
examined and elaborated on. The importance of researching the FFE can be
seen in its link and outcomes of: (1) improving return on investment in front end
activities, (2) ability to develop high quality stream of ideas, (3) reducing
uncertainty and risk associated with projects, and (4) fitting ideas to the company
and their context.
Fourth, the deliverables for the FFE were identified as: (1) a clear product
concept, (2) general knowledge and understanding, (3) the selection of the best
or most appropriate ideas, (4) a business case, (5) a new product development
plan, and (6) intellectual property. However, the area of FFE deliverables is still
viewed as one requiring future research. Fifth, the debate of whether a structured
or unstructured fuzzy front end was put to rest by Husig, Kohn, and Poskela’s
(2005) research which strongly supported a structured fuzzy front processes.
Finally, a review of the research topics on the fuzzy front end was presented with
the intent of demonstrating which major areas have been researched to date.
37

2.4. Review of Process Models for the Fuzzy Front End

2.4.1. Intro to Section


The following section reviews several process models for the fuzzy front end,
with the goal of understanding what processes can take place, how they are
ordered, and why. Second, the strengths and weaknesses of each model will be
reviewed, so one can understand where improvements in the process models
are needed.

2.4.2. Review of FFE Process Models


As mentioned earlier, this researcher will concentrate on the process side of the
fuzzy front end because he sees a great opportunity to strengthen it. Thus, a
review and critique of process models for the front end of innovation is very much
needed. To date there are several process models for the FFE and there is great
variation amongst them in their form, emphases, and appearances.
Also, most FFE models also have a visual model associated with them to
illustrate how they function. It seems many managers prefer to have rather
simple visual models of the process because, 1) it helps them understand how
the processes work, 2) the visual model helps them communicate the process to
the employees who will be using it, 3) it allows for a quick reference and finally,
4) it allows one to quickly understand how the parts of the process tie together.
However, one should always remember a model is a simplification of the
thing it represents, and something as complex as the fuzzy front end may not
translate into a simple visual model. Consequently, every line, object, symbol,
shape, color, and forum in a visual model can suggest some type of relationship
which may or may not be intended by the model’s creator. This is why creating
visual models may sometimes be a very difficult task. Nonetheless, this chapter
reviews the process models for the fuzzy front end along with the associated
visual models for their effectiveness.
38

2.4.3. Innovation Value Chain


The first model to be examined is the innovation value chain by Hansen, &
Birkinshaw (2007). Although this model does not concentrate on the in particular
fuzzy front end, it is useful because it gives a holistic overview of the innovation
processes, and broadly can take into account any of the twelve mentioned
innovation types by Sawhney, Wolcott, & Arroniz (2006).
The model shown in figure 2.8 is not so much a process flow model, but it
is designed to show the major activities which should take place as an idea
moves towards market launch. The true value in the innovation value chain is its
holistic view showing the innovation process as an integrated link of activities.
With this view point, the authors emphasize that companies should not be
concentrating so much on their innovation strengths but rather should focus on
their innovation weaknesses. Additionally, their article gives a framework to help
practitioners diagnose their own innovation value chain.
The visual representation of their model, shown below, concentrates more
on the general activities taking place rather than more specific activities as
shown in other process-flow models. This is advantageous because it allows the
model to show the general activities across many industries, but it can also be a
downside because it does not provide a prescription of the exact activities to be
carried out. However, again it seems this model was meant to be used more as a
tool for analysis then as a guide.

Idea Generation Conversion Diffusion

In-house idea
Cross-pollination External sourcing Selection Development Spread the idea
generation

Compares roughly to the


Fuzzy Front End processes

Figure 2.8. Visual Depiction of the Innovation Value Chain Model


39

This model consists of three main areas: (1) idea generation, which is not
similar to the idea generation activities which will be discussed in later sections,
(2) conversion, and (3) diffusion. The authors describe idea generation as an
area in which ideas are created or obtained. Next, conversion is described as the
selection of ideas and development of ideas. Finally, diffusion is the act of
spreading a concept across the organization, getting commitment from key
parties, and readying the company for market launch and support activities.
Hansen & Birkinshaw (2009) eloquently describe examples of companies
which were poor performers in any one of these three areas, and explain how a
company may remedy the problems in these areas to improve its overall
innovation process.
Figure 2.8 shows which parts of their model overlap with the FFE. As can
be seen in Figure 2.8 the idea generation activities are broken up into (1) in
house idea generation, where the ideas are created in the company, (2) cross-
pollination where ideas are generated between business units or departments
and (3) external sourcing where ideas are created outside the organization.
The innovation value chain model is one of the few models which
highlights the multiple sources of ideas, and allows companies to analyze how
they are getting their ideas. Further, the authors suggest a solution to improving
cross-pollination by utilizing cross-unit networks, and solutions to fixing external
sourcing by utilizing solution networks and/or discovery networks which are often
referred to in the literature on open innovation.
However, the downsides of this model are it does not go in to detail about
the exact activities which take place. For example, in-house idea generation does
not highlight what employee groups or departments are creating, how they are
creating it, or describe the flow of activities. Additionally, the overlapping line
(see Figure 2.8) for the FFE was drawn in the middle of the development area
because the FFE only develops a concept to a particular degree before it is
passed into the NPD processes.
40

Next, the conversion activities are divided into: (1) selection, where ideas
are screened, selected, and funded; and (2) development, where ideas are
developed into launch-able product and service. Now, the famous Stage-Gate
model integrates the functions selection and development together in-order to
reduce risk and cost; however, this model shows those activities to be separate.
So again, this is not a process flow model, but a more general model for the
activities which should be taking place. Interestingly, the authors label companies
with different weaknesses as being: idea-poor companies; conversion-poor
company; and diffusion-poor companies and suggest further readings to help
eliminate those weakness. Again, the focus of this thesis is on improving the
sourcing, generation, and selection of ideas inside a company, so this model can
be viewed as highly appropriate. As well, this model is particularly helpful in that
it allows practitioners to assess their companies own innovation processes.
The innovation value chain could also lead to diagnostic methods of
improving innovation in companies much like a doctor treats a patient. The
process would follow steps, were (1) diagnosis performed on the company, (2)
problems would be located, and (3) the appropriate solution is applied. The
diagnosis, problem, and solution process is also widely used by organizational
development experts to improve company’s performance in all areas. However,
for this type of process to be used many more types of diagnostic tools must be
created for the innovation process.

2.4.4. Cooper’s Stage-Gate Process Model


Cooper’s stage-gate process model is probably the most famous of the new
product development processes because it balances risk and expenses. Cooper
(2008) has mentioned the stage-gate model has undergone substantial
evolutions from its initially introduced; however, it is still based on the concept of
stages and gates.
41

Figure 2.9. Visual Depiction of the a Stage in the Stage-Gate Model

Figure 2.9 above shows a stage as a set of activities, then analysis,


followed by a number of deliverables. Once a certain point is reached, the
deliverables are used by a gatekeeper. A gatekeeper is usually one or more
individuals who analyze the project to determine if it should go on to the next
stage. The gatekeeper can continue the project by providing funding, or kill a
project by withholding additional funding and/or by removing vital resources.
According to Cooper (2008), a gatekeeper can require a project to repeat the
stage or hold the project at a gate. However, holding a project at a gate should
be minimized or eliminated altogether, because it can stall the overall innovation
process, and definitely slows the stage-gate process.

Figure 2.10. Full Stage-Gate Process Model


42

The full model for the Stage-Gate process is shown above in Figure 2.10
with five formal stages, and five formal gates. The process starts with the
discovery of an idea or concept. As with any process model, the item moving
through the process is understood to be an idea. The most recent article by
Cooper (2008) on the stage-gate process reviews many of the misconception,
miss-uses, and major errors its implementation.
One of the more important misconceptions is in the functionality of the
process itself. The state-gate process is meant to funnel the number of
development projects down, killing off the poor projects before they accrue too
much cost and use too many resources. Hence, each gate is not a review point
for the project or a milestone, it is an clear point were decision makers who
control the resources have the option to kill off projects which do not meet the
grades set by the company! Simply, the gates should be a way of killing off poor
projects early and often.
The gates in Figure 2.10 each test to see if different goals and objectives
have been met, and gates like gate 4 for example test to see if the project is
developed enough to warrant the expenses of testing which would take place in
stage 4.
The benefit here as Cooper posits, is that “no activity or deliverable is
mandatory: the stage-gate [process] is a guide that suggests best practices,
recommended activities, and likely deliverables. But the project team has much
discretion over which activities [they] executes and which [they] choose to not to
do. Every project is unique and merits its own action plan” (Cooper, 1998, p. 3).
This is also beneficial because having a guide speeds up development while it
reduces portfolio risk as the multiple projects precede through the development
pipes.
Below is a table taken from Verworn & Herstatt (2002) which gives a quick
overview of the checks at each gates and activities for each stage. Appendix B
illustrates activities at each stage and gate. A systematic process like this gives
the product development team a clear guide about what activities need to be
43

performed and what risks should be minimized as the project progresses. As


well, the gates can be viewed as a means of motivating the development team by
giving them clear short term goals.
Interestingly, Cooper (2008) notes the stage-gate process can be
shortened by reducing the number of gates for a project which have lower risk,
thus expediting the innovation process. The goal of the stage-gate process is to
help guide development and eliminate poor projects. Hence, it makes sense to
let projects with the greatest potential for success, accelerate through the
process, by-passing obviously unnecessary decision gates.

Table 2.3. Specific Activities and Decisions for Each Stage and Gate

∆Gate 1 • Company set criteria


Stage 1 • Preliminary assessment of market, technical requirements, and some soft
financials
∆Gate 2 • Meet criteria of gate 1 plus rough market, technical requirements
Stage 2 • Detailed market study, operation, legal review, detailed technical
appraisal, business case, product definition, project justification, and
project plan
∆Gate 3 • Meet criteria of gate 1 and 2, quality checks on activities, financial check
Stage 3 • Product development, product testing, marketing and operational plans,
cost analysis, preliminary market and customer feedback
∆Gate 4 • Meet criteria of gates 1,2 and 3 quality check on activities, check on result
of stage 3 activities
Stage 4 • In house testing, full customer testing, trial production, full business case
∆Gate 5 • Overall detailed financials, business check points, quality check on
previous activities, action plan for market launch
Stage 5 • Launch, implementation, and operational plans
Review • Compare actual results with project result for the project
44

Figure 2.11. Options for Sage Gate Process

Cooper (2008) says the visual model depicts stages as being of equal
time where in fact they should not be. Stages at the beginning should be
relatively low cost and should not contain anywhere close to the amount of
activities as stages taking later in the process. One issue with the stage-gate
process is the visual model shows it as a linear process. However, there are
large amounts of looping and iterations within in each stage. Activities can, and
should, often overlap between stages. To illustrate this, Figure 2.12 shows
stages as pie graphs depicting the percentage of energy and money which
should be spent on specific activities. The size of the pie corresponds to the
respective amount of cost or time spent in that stage.
Visually-speaking, Figure 2.12 is a clearer guiding process than the simple
stage boxes in Figure 2.10, because it depicts the ratio of the activities at each
stage. Also, companies should keep in mind that they will need to set the
activities and requirements of each gate, and not blindly follow a recommended
set of activities for each stage.
45

Figure 2.12. Pie Charts Depicting Activities in Each Stages

Cooper (2008) states that the process is a macro-scale guide and not a
means of controlling a project. Control should be performed through project
management which is a micro-scale activity. Finally, the last stage of post review
was added to insure the development process was conducted properly.
Amazingly, the stage-gate process was adapted to work with the open
innovation process by forwarding an idea, based on its level of development, to
the appropriate stage in the innovation process. Hence, fully developed product
market concepts (see appendix A for definition) can be placed directly into stage
5 (development) of the stage-gate development process.

2.4.5. Downsides of the Stage-Gate Model


Regardless of the strengths, the stage-gate process does have some major
downsides. First, this model relies on some type of discovery of ideas to occur.
Other fuzzy front end models include opportunity identification and idea
generation (for instance, the innovation value chain) whereas, stage-gate does
not. The stage-gate model misses what Crawford and Di Benedetto (2003) call
the early front end activities. Even though this model is very good at balancing
reward and risk, it is far from holistic because it is missing all of the early front
end activities.
46

A later part of this section will review the activities and tasks which should
take place in the fuzzy front end. In that review, one will note there is still much
disagreement about which tasks and activities should be taking place in the FFE.
Also some author mentions that judging a concept to early will kill it prematurely
before it has a chance to grow into something more solid. So as a guide, the
stage-gate model is very weak for the FFE, because it lacks specifics about
which activities should actually take place.
Another problem is that the front end activities often spawn “better” ideas
for new products and services and the current stage-gate model does not show
how those ideas can be managed. Finally, the stage-gate process does not show
how knowledge management, idea generation, creativity management, company
strategy, and idea management play into the processes.

2.4.6. Khurana & Rosenthal FFE Model


The article by Khurana & Rosenthal (1998) titled “towards holistic ‘front ends’ in
new product development” reviews how strategy impacts the projects in the fuzzy
front end. They found from studying 18 business units that the most successful
units linked business strategy, product strategy, and product-specific decisions to
the FFE.
Interestingly, their research showed new product projects in the front end
can be aligned to the company’s strategy by means of the company’s culture or
the company’s processes. Further yet, Khurana & Rosenthal (1998) article shows
how strategy link to 1) product strategy, 2) product definition, 3) project definition,
and 4) organizational roles.
For alignment using culture, they discuss how Japanese firms tend to
align product projects with all four of the items mentioned above whereas, in
European and American firms, the alignment of a project with strategy and
product portfolio is done by using a process approach. Hence, they say both
47

process and culture are viable models for achieving a holistic front end. This is a
great step forward toward creating process models for managing the fuzzy front
end.
Their model is illustrated below. It shows how idea generation, preliminary
opportunity identification, and portfolio strategy affect the front end.
Unfortunately, this figure was introduced more as an illustration than as actual
way to summarize their findings.

Figure 2.13. Khurana & Rosenthal FFE model

Phase zero and Phase one shown in figure 2.13 are not well defined,
according to authors Backman, Borjesson, & Setterberg (2007). Phase zero is
when a core group is assembled to assess the basic customer needs, evaluate
the technology, and see how the technology fits with the business capabilities,
identify core requirement, test the concept, specify required resources, and
identify the risks. Again, this article is valuable because it links how business
strategy, portfolio strategy, and product definitions impact the project in the fuzzy
48

front end. However, this is not by any means a formulated process which can be
followed, but it does indicate that success can be achieved through the use of
processes in the fuzzy front end.
The value of this model is in showing how strategy can impact the
processes of the fuzzy front end. Unfortunately, they do not discuss what they
consider as success for a front end activity. The Husig, Kohn, Poskela (2003)
article entitled “The Role of process formalization in the early phases of the
innovation process”, went to great lengths to defined success in terms of metrics
which were measurable and applicable to just the fuzzy front end.
There are many downsides to this model but since its goal was mainly to
show how strategy can influence processes in the fuzzy front end, there is not
really much sense in listing all its downsides as a full process model.

2.4.7. Deloitte’s Spiral Model


The Deloitte spiral model deserves mentioning even though it was not introduced
through the formal product development or innovation literature. The Deloitte
spiral model developed by Deloitte & Touche is a process based model for
innovating in the fuzzy front end (Gallagher, George, & Kadaki, 2006).
The Deloitte consultants observed that incremental innovations tend to be
selected for development over disruptive innovations. This is because metrics
like financial metrics (ROI and NPV) and market metrics (like customer
preference) used to evaluate and select ideas naturally prefer incremental
innovations over disruptive innovations because those metrics have a poor time
dealing with uncertain information. Thus they state, incremental innovation
processes concentrate more on finding a good innovation rather than building
one.
49

Figure 2.14. Visual Depiction of the Delottie’s Spiral Model

The Deloitte consultants state, “it is important to focus efforts and


resources on building a winning [disruptive] idea rather than counting on finding
one” (Gallagher, George, & Kadaki, 2006 p. 2). Interestingly, they state that
“sorting through ideas more often than not [in their observations] proves fruitless”
for disruptive ideas (p. 3). Hence, they emphasize that disruptive innovations
should be developed from an understanding of customer needs and focus on
generated idea by quality not quantity. Their model shown in Figure 2.14 has a
pronounced spiral like feature to it, where ideas start at the middle then move to
the outside. The first, activities in the center of the spiral are dictated by the
50

company strategy which guides the examination of user needs to particular target
market segments. However, it is unclear whether the spiral process starts with a
target market or a seed idea.
The following activities can be seen in the illustrated model ending at a
go/no go gate. If the project meets the objectives of the gate the process
continues on again. The process emphasizes a holistic view of the innovations
processes by looking at (1) user needs, (2) technical/partnering potential (3)
commercialization considerations (4) organizational implications. The building the
idea process of the Deloitte spiral is shown to end with a concept going into A)
the NPD process, B) an alternative organization, or C) a spinoff company.
The Deloitte process model is valuable because it emphasizes building
innovation concept based on needs rather than discovering a concept which can
be developed as the stage-gate model does. Also, several idea generation
processes will be mentioned in a later sections emphasize idea generation based
on customer understanding. The Deloitte model, unlike the other FFE models,
integrates strategy, decision making (go/no go), idea generation, prototyping,
business case analysis, planning, risk assessment, and requirements analysis.
Further, the required expenses and energy are thoughtfully shown on the models
axes. So, in the first iteration, one can see that cost and energy should be
relatively low. Finally, the go/no go decision point is analogous to the gates in the
stage-gate method which gives the team an idea of what objectives must be met
in order to pass and kills poor potential projects before they soak up too many
resources.
As well, the illustrated model show some ordered flow to the activities.
However, this researcher feels the order of some activities can be changed
slightly, or even done concurrently. Additionally, the activities of idea generation
seem broad, which seems to allow for specific idea generation processes to be
used. Note that, idea generation will be discussed in detail in later Sections 2.5,
2.6, & 2.7. Again, the “build an idea” approach seems to have advantages over
the “find an idea” approach for developing or discontinuing proposed innovations.
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Selecting quality over quantity is preferred because the act of screening ideas
requires resources in itself. Better quality ideas can be created through
processes and methods which will be discussed in the idea generation section
that follows.

2.4.8. Downsides of the Deloitte Spiral Model


Although this model does emphasize strategy in the starting point, it is
questionable how much company strategy and product portfolio strategy impact
this process because it is not described as a specific activity, as depicted in
Figure 2.14. Given the iterative nature it is possible that the initial concept is
highly modified and veers away from strategic objectives. Again by contrast, the
Khurana & Rosenthal (1998) model rigorously tries to align the new product
development project with the company’s strategic objectives, whereas the
Deloitte model does not. The Deloitte authors do make an argument that using
idea banks seems to be more of a finding an idea approach rather than a building
an idea approach. However, it is unclear how generated ideas are stored for
future review in this model. Hence, idea management is unclear in this model,
and sourcing of ideas mentioned largely in the Innovation Value Chain model is
all but absent here for the reasons mentioned above.
Activities such as experimenting are emphasized as front end activities
(Kelley & Littman, 2005; Kelley, Littman, & Peters, 2001). Yet, this model does
not mention those activities. However this researcher commends this model
because it includes prototyping, which to some degree can be viewed as an
experimental activity of form and functionality. Additionally, opportunity
identification and opportunity analysis seems to be missing from this model;
although one could argue it is an output of the activities related to understanding
customer needs and generated ideas/alternatives.
This researcher feels this model does contain benefits; especially since it
highlights the driving factors of building an idea verses finding and idea. The
Deloitte spiral model does to a large degree mirror the Stage-gate process
52

because it manages risk by staging development; however, it is different than


stage-gate because it is more based on repeating activities to build ideas rather
than taking one selected idea and developing it. This researcher would like to
see case studies on the application of this model, to determine its effectiveness.

2.4.9. Koen’s NCD Model


Koen et al. (2001) introduced another process model in their paper entitled
“Providing Clarity and a Common Language to the Fuzzy Front End.” They
mention, as Deloitte does, that the activities in the front end are very complex
and iterative and thus they state “a sequential process model was not
appropriate” for the fuzzy front end (Koen et al, 2001, p. 2). As well, they state
the cultural differences and importance of management and leadership very
much affect the results of front end activities. Hence they introduced the following
visual model to help guide activities in the fuzzy front end.

Figure 2.15. Visual Depiction of Koen’s NCD Model


53

The circular form of the above model is meant to represent an idea


iteratively passing across the five major activity areas. The center, termed “the
engine”, and was placed in the center to signify leadership, culture and strategy
as drivers the FFE. The inner spoke areas can be seen above and are fairly self
explanatory. The arrows between the inner areas indicate ideas “flow, circulate,
and iterate between and among the five elements” (Koen et al, 2001, p. 4).
Further they mention “while inherent looping back may delay the FFE, it typically
shortens the total cycle time of product development and commercialization”
efforts (Koen et al, 2001, p. 4). Further they say, activities can “proceed non-
sequentially.” Interestingly, their model does place an emphasis on opportunity
analysis and opportunity identification as the Deloitte model does not.
Regardless, it is thought from reviewing the recommended activities that Koen’s
model also sways toward the ‘build-an-idea’ approach.
The black wheel section on the outside signifies influencing factors; such
as, governmental policy, environmental regulations, law, and socioeconomic
trends. This can to some degree can be compared with the research on
environmental scanning where FFE practitioners are told to observe changes in
policies, technologies, and so on, to locate opportunities and generate ideas
(Flynn, Dooley, & O’Sullivan, 2003; Drucker, 1985). Interestingly, this is one of
the few models other than Hüsig, Kohn, & Poskela’s (2005) model which include
environmental items influencing the FFE.
The model shows new ideas, information, and opportunities can enter into
the process through the illustrated arrows, and the formulated concepts which
can exit towards the new product development process or the technology state-
gate process.One benefit of this model is its’ strong base in customer needs
developed from the opportunity identification and opportunity analysis phases.
This strong base can be used to generate ideas with higher value and
likelihood’s of success. Further, the iterative nature of the model is a definite
benefit especially for remolding concepts based on analysis; as well as, utilizing
continued idea generation to remold ideas into better forms.
54

2.4.10. Downsides and Conclusion on Koen’s Model


Although the NCD model has benefits it also has several downsides, the
first being it provides limited guidance. The model does contain activities
however, like the innovation value chain model it can be too broad to direct
specific activities. The stage-gate models stated objectives at the end of each
gate which to a large degree helped focus activities; whereas, the NCD model
does not provide such guidance. As well, this model does not give indications of
how cost, time, and effort should be spent where the Deloitte model does.
Additionally, the lack of a formal (go/no go) gate to manage risk and
optimize resources is seen as a large weakness of this model which could be
remedied easily by adding it in; however, one should note there is still some
debate about whether eliminating ideas is an appropriate practices for the early
innovation process.
The introduction of environmental influencing factors is novel to a large
degree; however, it is largely unstudied how much environment factors influence
the FFE; and it is questionable if adding those factors adds any value other than
their symbolic nature. The lack of a direction for the flow of an idea may be a
benefit of the model. However, it can also hinder practitioners by confusing them
about which activities to undertake. Also, it is unclear if idea selection removes or
screens poor concepts from the process. Finally, it is ambiguous at what point a
concept would transfer to the new product development process, whereas, in the,
Deloitte and stage-gate processes, it is fairly clear.
This model is greatly valuable because shows the FFE process with
several large fundamental elements which require a large degree of iteration.
However, the downsides are:
(1) the lack of a (go/no-go) gate to minimize risk;
(2) the unclear flow of activities;
(3) lack of a link to time, effort, and energy; and
(4) the confusion about when to eliminate or transfer ideas weaken this
model.
55

In summary, this model is more suited to developing an understanding of


the elements of the fuzzy front end, rather than serving as a guiding process
model for practitioners. Nevertheless, it represented a great advancement when
introduced in 2001.

2.4.11. Husig, Kohn, and Poskela 2003


Iin their article “The role of Process Formalization in The Early Phases of The
Innovation Process”, Husig, Kohn, & Poskela (2003) successfully argue that
having formalized processes for the fuzzy front end increase the probability of
front end success. As a side note, this article introduces a visual process model
of the FFE shown below.

Figure 2.16. Visual Depiction of Husig, Kohn, and Poskela Model

This model has environmental screening as in the Koen NCD model in


which external changes and trends will be analyzed and translated into potential
business opportunities. This is followed by a gate where opportunities generated
during the previous phase are screened and the best are selected to be moved
toward idea generation. However, the authors do make a clear distinction that
these phases and gates do not have to be in sequential order as in the stage-
gate processes, and that ideas can be “redirected” to other stages. Further they
say, for each opportunity worth pursuing several ideas will be generated where,
“those ideas will be combined into one or more concepts. This implies the subject
of analysis keep changing over the process. Therefore this process model is
rather a representation of continuous activities which permanently cycle in order
to fill the NPD pipeline.
56

After the ideas are created, the “most promising ideas are subject to an
intensive search, or refined into detailed product project or concepts” in the third
stage (Hüsig, Kohn, & Poskela, 2005, p. 36). Finally, the concepts are evaluated
in the go/no go gate to see if they should pass into the NPD process. Although
this model does not have all the major attributes of the prior mentioned models, it
does serve its principle function which is to provide structured front end
processes in order to increase front end success. Hence, it appears this model
was designed to show the importance of structure in the fuzzy front end.

2.4.12. Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll


A notable mention should be given to Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll’s
(2000) article “From experience: Applying Performance Support Technology in
the Fuzzy Front End.” In this article they do not present a full front end process
model, but instead suggest a process model for dealing with ideas.

Figure 2.17. Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll’s Funnel Model


57

Figure 2.17 shows this model concentrates on the “finding an idea”


approach. These authors propose idea management software as a key tool in
managing the fuzzy front end. Their model emphasizes capturing ideas, primarily
from employees in the company. Their software program captures ideas and
allows the FFE team to analyze them through the software based on the factors
of: (1) market, (2) technology, (3) business, and (4) human factors. The software
guides the process. This begs the question: would the process and activities for
the fuzzy front end be best guided by (a) management based understand of how
the system should work or (b) tools and resources?
To answer this one should look at the many documented cases of
companies failing horribly in their attempts to borrow other processes like (six-
sigma) and implement them by simply applying software and tools. In order for
these complex processes to be successfully applied a company’s management
must develop a deep understanding for how the process works and why it works.
There is a risk in relying on software to guide the front end processes. Instead it
is highly recommended that a conceptual understanding of the front end
processes be developed prior to relying on software for front end development.

2.4.13. General Problems and Issues with Fuzzy Front End Models
Many of the process models for the FFE share similar problems and issues,
which need to be highlighted so that future process models for the FFE can
eliminate these weaknesses. A list of major problems identified by this
researcher is listed below:
1) No formal integration of gate in some models
2) Poor visual representation of cost, effort, time, and money
3) Poor integration of portfolio management and company strategy
4) Very poor link to idea management and idea banks
5) Poor link to knowledge management
6) Poor link to creativity management.
58

2.4.13.1. No Formal Integration of Gates in Some Models


Cooper recently found that the gate at the end of each stage is a very useful way
of providing guidance to practitioners in the front end, and even more valuable for
killing off projects which do not meet a company’s set objectives (Cooper, 2008).
It is strongly believed that periodic gates are valuable and very useful activities
for the front end. However, models like Koen’s NCD model and Khurana &
Rosenthal’s models do not formally integrate gates.

2.4.13.2. Poor Visual Representation of Cost, Effort, Time, and Money


The Deloitte model shows on its axis’s time, effort, and expenses. This quickly
shows managers respective levels of investment during the FFE process which
helps to guide vital resources to particular activities, like idea generation. Not
having some visual way of displaying time, effort, or expense leaves out a
powerful means of guiding FFE management.

2.4.13.3. Poor Integration of Portfolio Management and Company Strategy


Khurana & Rosenthal (1998) showed a strong link between implementing
strategy in the FFE and improved FFE results. Yet, their model alone visually
shows product portfolio and company strategy as being integrated into a process
model for the FFE. Other models such as stage-gate say it should be considered
and may be influential at certain gates. Also Cooper’s (1999) article “New
Product Portfolio Management: Practices & Performance” shows the value in
having strategy and how it influences FFE activities. Several idea generation
articles also state that companies should use formal idea generation events to
flesh out the product portfolio (Rochford, 1991; Zein & Buckler, 1997; Patterson,
2005). There is a strong need to integrate company and portfolio strategies into
process models for the fuzzy front end. Therefore, future visual process models
for the FFE should take this into account.
59

2.4.13.4. Poor Integration of Idea Management


Although all of the models mention idea generations (except for stage-gate which
relies on already discovered ideas) only one model being Montoya-Weiss &
O’Driscoll integrates managing idea and idea banks. Later sections (2.7 & 2.8) of
this thesis will discuss idea management and its value in the FFE. Sadly it seems
that front end innovation management has not been linked to idea management
in any substantial way. Thus, many of the models may result in lost ideas, ideas
being shelf and not revisited, or ideas just never making it to the correct front end
individuals (Perk, Cooper, & Jones, 2005; Flynn, Dooley, & O’Sullivan; 2003). So,
future models for the FFE should knowingly integrate idea management into their
processes.

2.4.13.5. Poor Link to Knowledge Management


Foster author of How to Get Idea dedicates a whole chapter on the
argument that an individual should get as much information as possible to come
up with good ideas. Revisiting the definition of a new idea as being “a
recombination of other ideas” one can deduce that knowledge is important in
idea generation activities.
Idea generating processes like IDEO’s ‘deep-dive’ and Anthony Ulwick’s
‘outcome based innovation’ all emphasize contextual and ethnographical market
research where customer behavior, unspoken needs, and customer context are
researched (Kelley & Littman, 2005; Ulwick, 2007).
All of these activities build a large amount of knowledge about the
customer, their behavior, and their environment which are then used to locate
opportunities and generate ideas. For example, contextual research studies
usually are delivered in video and written form which is directly used to generate
ideas (Conley, 2002).
Amazingly, the valuable knowledge generated during these intensive
research studies may be re-used to fuel future idea generation activities;
however, the documents containing them may be forgotten about or even worst
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lost in a company’s database. Why, can’t these documents be built upon


resulting in a richer record of information to help spawn idea, and locate unseen
opportunities? Note: idea management and knowledge management overlap to
a degree because ideas are considered a form of knowledge (Bakker, Boersma,
& Oreel, 2006).
Remarkably, the front end processes and FFE process models have no
link to knowledge management. Additionally, building the capabilities to execute
a project in the NPD also requires knowledge management, to insure the product
team has obtained the needed knowledge, or know how to get the information to
execute effectively. Even the business plan is considered a knowledge document
which must be built, developed, and managed.
Hardagon & Sutton (2000) article on knowledge brokering at IDEO is
probably the best evidences that knowledge management should be integrated
into FFE processes. They learned “the best innovators systematically use old
ideas as the raw material for one new idea after another” (p. 6). In the highly
innovative companies they studied, they found individuals: 1) captured good
ideas from things they researched for customers, observed from other great
inventions, or collected, and 2) kept ideas alive in product archive rooms,
databases, idea fairs, and pictures which is very similar to knowledge storage
and 3) applied old ideas in a new way by allowing individuals to communicate
problem through expert phonebook databases and disseminate good ideas
amongst their organization.
For example, IDEO offices are very open allowing for hundreds of unplanned
interactions per day.
Hence, a link to knowledge management could benefit idea generation,
opportunity identification, as well as, other activities of the fuzzy front end, and
should be integrated into future process models for the fuzzy front end. If
anything the process of knowledge brokering some how should be integrated into
the processes for the FFE especially for firms with large amounts of design work.
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2.4.13.6. Poor Link to Creativity Management


Creativity management is not mentioned in articles on the fuzzy front end,
but it however, has been mentioned greatly in the literature on idea generation
and opportunity identification. Steven, Burley, & Divine show individuals with
higher creativity which are coached in the NPD process and business basics out
perform individuals with normal creativity by up 5-to-12 times. This result was
obtained from a single long term study in one company but seems very
promising. This leads one to think that creativity management should concentrate
on placing individuals with high creativity into the FFE processes and train them
to practice discipline business.
As well, journals like ‘creativity and innovation’ among others attest to the
importance of creativity management. In the literature, creativity management
has gained much importance in FFE processes of companies (like marketing
firms, advertising, design firms and so on) where design task are prevalent
(McAdam & McClelland, 2002). Majaro (1991), state creativity can be divided
into three categories, depending on how it originates. These are A) normative
creativity, which is creativity in problem solving, B) exploratory creativity which is
creativity not related to a particular demand, and C) creativity by serendipity
which is luck or chance (Flynn, Dooley, & O’Sullivan, 2003). So tasks like
experimentation and prototyping can help increase creativity through both
normative and explorative means. Thus, activities which have high creativity
potential can be integrated into the FFE processes, and in this way, creativity
management can be knowingly integrated into FFE processes.
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2.5. Literature Review of Activities in the Fuzzy Front End

As can be seen in section 2.4, each FFE model tends to highlight some
activities over others; as well, some models may not mention an activity which
another model says is vital. Hence, this researcher feels it would be valuable to
create a comprehensive list of formally named activities which may take place in
the fuzzy front end, and then quickly describe how each functions.

2.5.1. List of Activities in the Fuzzy Front End


Table 2.4 below shows all of the activities mentioned in the FFE literature
which can or should occur in the front end of innovation. Note the table was split
into to columns so the information can be placed all on one page.

Table 2.4. List of Activities Which Can Occur in the Front End of Innovation

Knowledge management Idea Generation


Concept refinement Idea Selection
Testing (trial) Idea Screening
Market testing Diffusing Idea
Functionality testing Knowledge Management
Analysis Diffusing ideas
Idea and concept Analysis Idea Management
Market analysis Prototyping
Competitive analysis Environmental Scanning
Building a business case Opportunity Identification
Planning for the NPD Opportunity Analysis
Review Review
Development Research
Strategy planning Market Research
Application Exploration Customer research
Partnering Technical Research
Portfolio planning Commitment building

At first glance, one notices that many activities can occur in the front end
of innovation. Table 2.4 highlights the major activities which are referred to in the
literature. Table 2.4 places them in similar categories, so, for instance, concept
testing and market testing both fall under the major category of testing.
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The first set of tasks is concept refinement and includes selecting or


developing a concept definition. Concept refinement is a very broad activity
which can include many if not all of the activities mentioned below. In many
instances concept refinement means specifically, narrowing a definition of the
product or service into a short narrative or illustrated form.
Testing is a vital activity in the front end and includes concept testing,
market testing, technical testing, functionality testing, and manufacturing testing
among others. Concept testing usually pertains to testing the concept with
customers and users, where market testing is more looking at the demand and
receptiveness of the market to the product or idea. Functionality and technical
testing are self-explanatory.
The term “testing” may be inter-changed with the word “analysis.” For
example, concept analysis looks at the strengths and weaknesses of a concept
where concept testing could also be done the same way. The goals of testing are
typically understanding and the confirmation of assumptions. So something like
concept testing seeks to understand how customers feel about an idea and tries
to confirm the assumed value of that idea. Please note, the word ‘trial’ can be
inter-changed with the word ‘testing.’
Analysis is a very broad term and can be activities like idea analysis,
opportunity analysis, competitor analysis, or even functionality analysis.
Consequently, the term “analysis” alone is not very guiding as an activity and
must be combined with another term to really be made into an activity. For
example, market analysis can be anything from looking at the size of the market
and its revenues, to a detailed examination of trends, price-elasticity, and
impending market events.
The goal of an analysis is typically understanding and the building of
knowledge. For example the goals of a competitor analysis mainly are to
understand the competitive landscape which aids in judging the risk of the
competition. The words analysis and assessment can be inter-changed.
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Opportunity identification is a commonly cited activity and is the act of


locating favorable circumstances or situations in the marketplace. Opportunity
identification examines in the marketplace for: 1) a solution is needed or, 2) there
are un-filled customer needs, or 3) there is a chance to create new customer
needs, or even 4) there is some type of change in the market which creates a
chance for new business offerings. Opportunity analysis is the activity of
examining the opportunity to determine if it has validity and value. Opportunity
analysis seems to overlap to some degree with customer needs analysis. As
well, opportunities screening is the act of eliminating opportunities from further
consideration.
Planning or project planning is a typical activity which involves creating
project plans, with lists of: activities, milestone, objectivities, and deliverables.
The project plan is typically used to guide tasks in the new product development
process, but can also guide tasks for the FFE process.
Building a business case is a fairly comprehensive set of activities,
which includes many types of analysis, testing, planning, and development. Most
importantly a clear understanding of the risks, benefits, requirements, and
required resources should be clarified and presented to upper management.
Typically, building a business case results in a defendable business plan.
However, as an activity alone ‘building a business case’ is a bit too broad and
should not be used to guide specific activities. Importantly this term does
emphasize the need to prove the value of the idea, while minimizing the
downside. Hence, this researcher really prefers ‘building a business case’ to be a
goal more than a specific activity.
Reviews are also a highly cited front end activities. Reviews may be tasks
like a legal review, technical review, business case review, and so on. Reviews
are typically an activity where either upper management, stake holders, or parties
controlling resources have the opportunity to, examine, evaluate, and judge a
particular item. For example, a legal review is an activity where a company’s
lawyers can assess the legal impact a particular idea would have on a company.
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Reviews are an integral activity which may also include making particular
decisions, like the gates in the stage-gate process. The word ‘evaluations’ can
also be inter-changed with reviews.
Development is another broad word which can include anything from:
concept development, technical development, product development,
manufacturing, and project development. Development usually means doing a
set of activities to achieve a set of objectives like, building knowledge, creating
something, or conducting an analysis. Again, this word is very broad and could
also include things from performing analysis, testing, reviewing, to creating a
business case. Thus, the word development has to be tied to another word like
‘technical development’ to be more guiding as a set of activities. The word
‘formulation’ also can be interchanged with the word development.
Environmental scanning is an activity which is presented in some front
end models and includes observing and seeking for knowledge and
developments outside the company. Peter Drunker (1998) along with Auster &
Choo (1992) describe it in detail. Auster & Choo (1992) divide environmental
scanning into eight categories: (1) customer, (2) competitor, (3) industry and
sector, (4) technological, (5) economic, (6) specific economy, (7) regulatory, and
(8) socio-cultural. This activity may include scanning for ideas, locating
opportunities, or building knowledge (Flynn, Dooley, & O’Sullivan, 2003).
Conversely, environmental analysis is activities seeking to understand the
environment and how it is changing. The results of environmental scanning and
environmental analysis can be used by the idea generation processes to
generate ideas.
Selection activities may include idea selection and project selection. Idea
selection may include related tasks of screening, filtering, and culling of ideas.
Idea selection activities normally are related to choosing ideas to pursue or
develop further.
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Idea generation activities are highly quoted in the FFE literature and
relate to activities which produce ideas, like brainstorming. The goal of idea
generation is simply to produce ideas and will be discussed in detail in Sections
2.6, & 2.7.
Learning activities are not commonly quoted as a specific activity
although they are fundamentally a part of many activities, like primary research,
analysis, and testing.
Knowledge creation, knowledge storing, and knowledge diffusing
activities are not quoted as being formal activities in the FFE, although they are
fundamentally a part of many other activities. Meetings, analysis, testing,
reviews, documentation all create, store, and diffuse knowledge.
Only Hardagon & Sutton (2000) specifically quotes knowledge diffusion
activities in his knowledge brokering pieces on the FFE as a method of diffusing
ideas in the organization. Knowledge storing can also include storing results of
things like market studies, tests, and so on into databases, as well as, storing
ideas in idea banks.
Idea management is quoted as being a FFE activity, and will be
discussed in detail in Section 2.8. Idea management includes generating, and
storing ideas so they can be diffused, or selected.
Prototyping activities are highly quoted, and relate to the creation of a
physical or virtual creation of the idea, which can be used in analysis and testing
activities. Authors like Kelley highly cite prototyping as a critical front end activity
(Kelley, Littman, & Peters, 2001; Kelley & Littman, 2005).
Portfolio planning is also a front end activity, which involves making
decisions about how new ideas can fit into the group of ideas which the company
is developing and how those ideas align with the company’s strategies (Khurana
& Rosenthal, 1998; Cooper 1999; Patterson, 2005).
Feasibility activities assess the ability of the company to execute the
given project and can be broken up into many areas like, market feasibility,
technical feasibility. Feasibility is very similar to testing and analysis except it also
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makes a judgment as to some result. Feasibility may or may not include analysis
or testing. So technical feasibility activities may analyze the technology then
determine the degree to which the company can develop those technologies.
Risk analysis is also a highly cited activity which goals are to estimate the
level of risk with respect to (1) the competitors, (2) the market, and (3) the
capabilities of the company at executing a project.
Research activities are a very broad term and can include: exploratory
research, focused research, and even general research. Research can include
learning, knowledge building, evaluation, testing, prototyping, analysis,
environmental scanning, among others. The term research is associated with
activities such as learning, knowledge building, and testing, and may be
combined with another term to serve as a focused activity, like market research
or customer research.
Commitment building activities relate to getting devotion or dedication to
an idea and can include activities like idea selling which typically are performed
by product champions, product teams, or upper management (Hansen &
Birkinshaw, 2007). Again this discussion of activities in the front end was not
meant to be comprehensive but more of an overview of general activities which
can take place.
Application exploration activities related to finding, and exploring
applications and potential markets for a new radical or disruptive technology.
Interesting, Thongpapnal, O’Connor, & Sarin (2008) argue that application
exploration for radical & disruptive innovation is vita and if done poorly may
“result in serious repercussions on the perceived viability and business potential
of the proposed major innovation” (Thongpapnal, O’Connor, & Sarin, 2008, p. 4).
Application exploration is rarely mentioned in the FFE literature. However,
Thongpapnal, O’Connor, & Sarin’s (2008) study makes a strong argument that
application exploration should be a formal activity in the FFE, especially for
radical & disruptive innovations.
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2.5.2. Quick Categorization of Activities in the Fuzzy Front End


In reviewing activities which take place in the front end, it was observed that
some activities related to (a) improving and evaluating a concept, or the (b)
alignment and management activities, while others were general activities for (c)
coming up with ideas. Table 2.5 shows a rough categorization placed into these
three areas. One should notice that many activities overlap between areas.

2.5.3. Proposed Organization of Activities for the Fuzzy Front End


It seems from conducting this rough categorization that there is a big division
between front end activities related to developing a particular idea, and front end
activities for getting ideas. However, it was also observed that some activities
benefited both areas, such as analysis, idea diffusion, research, and testing.

Table 2.5. Categorization of Front End Activities

A) Activities related to a developing a C) Activities related to generation of


particular idea ideas
Analysis Analysis
Business case building Diffusing ideas
Commitment building Environmental screening
Concept refinement Idea capture & storing
Development Idea diffusion
Idea diffusion Idea generation
Knowledge creation, storage, & Idea screening
diffusion
Partnering Knowledge creation, storage, &
diffusion
Planning Needs analysis
Prototyping Opportunity analysis
Research Opportunity identification
Review Opportunity screening
Testing Portfolio planning
Application Exploration Strategic planning
B) Activities related to alignment and Testing
management of FFE
Portfolio planning Research
Strategic planning
Review
Idea selection
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One should also note, future sections of this thesis will refer to activities
related to selecting and developing particular ideas as late front end activities,
and will refer to activities related to managing ideas, generating idea and
locating opportunities as early front end activities.

2.5.4. Summary of Section


In summary, this section reviewed the formal activities which take place in the
front end of innovation, then broke them down into three possible categories of
(a) activities related to developing a particular idea, (b) activities related to getting
or generating ideas, and (c) activities related to managing the fuzzy front end.
Some activities are easy to understand by those formally educated in
business. For example, any individual with an MBA should understand how to
build a business case, conduct technical reviews, and project planning,
competitive analysis, and opportunity analyses. However, other activities such as
market, technical, functional, and market testing, prototyping, and environmental
scanning may require additional training.
Some vital activities like idea generation, idea screening, product portfolio
management, and idea management are prove difficult for training, because
there is a limited amount of literature on these topics. It may be that idea
generation is the most poorly understood and most critical area for front end
success. Section 2.7 will attempt to clarify idea generation, and Chapter 3.2 will
introduce new theories on the topic of idea generation.

2.6. Literature Review of Idea Generation


As can be seen from section 2.5, the front end activities were broken up into two
broad categories one of which was activities related to the generation of ideas.
Interestingly, this researcher saw several opportunities to improve the fuzzy front
end by clarifying the understanding of idea generation. The following two
sections will focus on idea generation.
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2.6.1. Why is Idea Generation Important?


As mentioned previously, the output of the new product development process is
only as good as the concepts and ideas being put into it, “garbage in equal’s
garbage out.” Drucker noted that "innovative ideas are like frogs' eggs; of a
thousand hatched, only one or two survive to maturity" (Stasch, Lonsdale, &
LaVenka, 1992, p. 14). Stevens & Burley (1997) have shown it roughly takes
from 1,500 to 3,000 raw ideas to equal one business success. With such a poor
conversion rate one can understand why a company needs a stream of ideas.
Of course, one can argue over the exact conversion rates of raw ideas
into business successes, but it would not negate the matter that a large number
of raw ideas are needed to develop even one winner.
Again, idea generation processes, activities, or phase is of great
importance, where Stasch, Lonsdale, & LaVenka (1992) state, “the objective of
all idea-generating activities is to guarantee that the company does not leave the
exploration stage of new-product development to chance” (p. 21).
Aside from leaving idea generation to chance, changes in the idea
generation process may increase the quality of the produced ideas. Several
researchers state that idea developed from a deep understanding of the
customer usually have higher value and better chances of succeeding (Flint,
2002). So, logically, a business should try to increase the quality of the ideas
they are generating in addition to guaranteeing a steady stream of ideas.
In addition to generating ideas for new offerings, processes, solutions, and
so on, development projects periodically require ideas to solve problems. For
example, a new product may require new ideas for packaging to help it sell in the
stores. So, not only are ideas needed to form the bases of the new product, they
are also required to solve problems or create value as the project moves through
the development processes. This is backed by Verworn & Herstatt ‘s (2001)
statement that “idea generation should take part throughout the whole project” (p.
3).
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The innovation value chain model shows inhouse idea generation as a


vital link in the innovation process. Again, one must take idea generation in
perspective. If the other parts of the innovation value chain are weak or poorly
functioning, even the best ideas will not produce desirable innovation results.
Of course, ideas affect the product portfolio. Adams-Bigelow’s (2005)
found that 54% of the ideas from companies were generated through informal
activities, and of these, 25% were generated informally and without a specific
purpose. Of the 46% of ideas that came from formal idea generation activities,
only 33% were generated to fill gaps in the product portfolio. This supports
Tucker’s (2003) claim that idea generation is sometimes applied sporadically.
Finally, new ideas open up new strategic options for a company. In The Strategy
Paradox, Michael Raynor (2007) discusses Microsoft’s use of an option-based
strategy and their development of new ideas because they wanted to have the
strategic option to go into those markets when they emerged (Raynor, 2007).

2.6.2. What is Idea Generation?


Idea generation can occur inside or outside a business and is thought of as a
single activity or set of activities performed by individuals or groups. In the
literature, there are many books related to coming up with new ideas, products,
services, branding ideas, etc. Again, because the term “idea” is so broad, the
literature related to idea generation can be very broad and varied. Often books
providing idea generation methods do not even use the word “idea generation.”
For example, books on branding may describe exercises to help create new
branding concepts, whereas others, like Blue Ocean Strategy (2005) does not
mention idea generation and instead mentions creating new business and new
market spaces (Kim & Mauborgne, 2005).
This is why respective areas, like branding, manufacturing and customer
service may have their own terminology for methods which come up with new
ideas. Consequently, it is difficult to outline all idea generation techniques,
activities, methods, and processes, so this research concentrated on idea
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generation of new products or services. Yet, the idea generation processes


listed herein are believed to be highly useful across many disciplines. So, even
individuals with the goal of creating new market and promotional concepts will
benefit from the listed techniques, activities, and processes in the following
section.

2.6.3. A Review of Idea Generation Research


The following is a quick overview of research on idea generation. There has been
varying amounts of research performed on different areas of idea generation.
People were studied as factors in idea generation and the fuzzy front end
by (Stevens, Burley, & Divine 1999). They reported that highly creative people
trained in business and coach to be discipline in their application of business
principles outperformed individuals with normal levels of creativity on the average
of 10 times by generated revenues. A large vein of research on creativity in
individuals also strongly corresponds to idea generation, in journal areas such as
Psychology and Creativity among others. Gender and idea generation were also
examined (Ester 1996).
Idea generation in teams was studied by numerous researchers (Miller,
2005; Verworn & Herstatt, 2001; Paulus, 2000; Schlicksupp, 1977; Rickards,
1999; Aiken & Wong, 2003).
Research on tools to aid in idea generation mainly relates to software
programs which capture ideas and encourage collaboration (Miller, 2005; Flynn,
Dooley, & O’Sullivan, 2003; Flint, 2002; Bakker, Boersma, & Oreel, 2006; Tucker,
2003).
Software such as online collaborative whiteboards and creativity
enhancing software have been invented and discussed in other studies (Aiken &
Wong, 2003; Ester, 1996; Janejira, 2006; Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll, 2006;
Flynn, Dooley, & O’Sullivan, 2003; Wagener & Hayashi, 1994). Software
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designed to stimulate creativity and seed individuals with ideas by displaying


thousands of images to them was discussed by Satzinger, Garfield, &
Nagasundaram (1999).
Tools, such as tech boxes at IDEO which hold items like products,
material samples, and other random items, are to be used to simulate creativity
(Hardagon & Sutton, 2000). Kelley, the CEO of IDEO, advocates using any
resources possible to prototype ideas so the ideas can be quickly explored and
tested (Kelley & Littman, 2005; Kelley, Littman, & Peters, 2001).
Kelley also advocated using every surface in a room to display ideas
during brainstorming sessions, and to use any tool to help in communicating
ideas by using things like: paper, color pens, prototypes, hand jesters, videos,
and modeling clay. As of 2008, there are many idea generation software
protocols and web applications which can be applied to various situations. These
are discussed in Section 2.8.
Incentive’s impact on idea generation was found to be informative by a
number of researchers (Alam, 2003; Flynn, Dooley, & O’Sullivan, 2003;
Belliveau, Griffin, & Somermeyer, 2002; Gorski, & Heinekamp, 2002;
Abdulaziz,1995; Toubia, 2006; Derry, 2004).
Company cultures which promote idea generation were mentioned in the
literature on culture of the FFE front end in Chapter 3 of PDMA (Patterson; 2005)
as well as, in Flynn, Dooley, & O’Sullivan (2003), Zien & Buckler (1997), and
Kohn, Ernst, & Hüsig (2006). Company cultures impact on creativity was
researched across several disciplines ranging from psychology, learning, design,
creativity, and are to numerous to be mentioned here.
The impact of national culture on creativity was researched by
Eisenberg (1999) and others. Researchers interested in the many factors
affecting idea generation should look at the topic area of ‘creativity management’
and the above mentioned research area disciplines.
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The local environments which promote effective idea generation


sessions were mentioned in Miller (2005), Foster (1996), Kelley & Littman (2005),
and Kelley, Littman, & Peters (2001). A productive atmosphere was described as
being open to new ideas, playful, fun, humorous, devoid of interruptions, focused,
and risk taking. Rooms and buildings were arranged so unplanned interactions
would often take place and spawn ideas (Hardagon & Sutton, 2000).
Screening and sorting can aid in idea generation. Miller (2005)
mentioned that concept screening can be integrated into idea generation to
further spawn ideas. He also discussed advisory voting where each individual
has a number of votes. This approach was also used by IDEO; as well as, sorting
using un-weighted criteria, and screening and sorting which can be used to focus
an idea generation session to fill a product portfolio’s needs (Kelley & Littman,
2005; Kelley, Littman, & Peters, 2001).

2.6.4. Creativity and Idea Generation


Flynn, Dooley, O’sullivan, and Cormican (2003) found “that creativity within the
organisational innovation process is a highly complex area” (Flynn, Dooley, &
O’Sullivan, 2003, p. 74). They propose an ‘idea generation methodology.’ More
notably, they discuss Majaro (1991) which breaks up creativity into normative
creativity, exploratory creativity, and creativity by serendipity (Flynn, Dooley, &
O’Sullivan, 2003).
Again, “normative creativity focuses on generating ideas to solve
specific needs, problems, and objectives. Although the predefined nature of
normative creativity renders it more cost-effective than other creative
approaches, it may also restrict the field of creative vision” (Flynn, Dooley, &
O’Sullivan, 2003, p. 75). For example, idea generation techniques, activities (like
problem solving and brainstorming) can be seen to fill a particular need and thus
stimulate normative creativity.
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Exploratory creativity from Flynn et al. (2003) “focuses on generating a


broad spectrum of ideas, which may not necessarily be related to known
requirements or demands. It differs from normative creativity in that it does not
focus strictly on finding specific, almost pre-meditated solutions to known
problems” (Flynn et al, 2003, p. 43). Examples of this can be seen when ideas
are created from activities like experimentation, market research analysis, and
customer feedback. They concluded that “a hybrid of normative and exploratory
creativity can potentially provide a balanced combination of goal orientation and
imaginative freedom” (Flynn, Dooley, & O’Sullivan, 2003, p. 46).
Creativity by serendipity is when the idea underlying the innovation is
discovered by accident. However, Proctor (1999) disagrees with this premise.
But this research suggests that creativity by serendipity may be a useful catch-all
category for acts of creativity which cannot be explained. For example, the
accidental discovery of Teflon, Superglue, ScotchGuard, & the pace maker can
be placed here. Austin, Devin, Sullivan (2008) argue that creativity by serendipity
can be harnessed via implementing certain techniques. However, this thesis
cautions against dependence on this method, because it may generate many
ideas which are outside the strategic interests and organizational capabilities of
the company.

2.6.5. Environmental Scanning and Idea Generation


Environmental scanning influence on the idea generation process is discussed
here in greater detail, since it will be of great use for the following sections.
Environmental scanning, which is “searching and monitoring internal and external
environments for potential stimuli to “initiate” the idea generation process, is only
mentioned in a few articles on idea generation.
Drucker proposed this in his 1985 book, Innovation and Entrepreneurship,
that innovation opportunities are created by changes in the external environment.
These changes can occur as a result of (1) unexpected occurrences (2)
incongruities being something which does not fit in its context, (3) process needs,
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(4) market changes, (5) demographic changes, (6) changes in perception, and
(7) new knowledge. This seems logical since changes open up new opportunities
while they may close others. Thus scanning for these changes is a logical first
step to identifying these opportunities, and helps by stimulating the creativity &
insight to see the opportunities which can result in the creation of ideas to fill
those opportunities.
Auster & Choo (1992) suggest a similar categorization based on (1)
customer information, (2) competitor information, (3) industry information, (4)
technology and processes, (5) general economic considerations, (6) specific
economic climate, (7) regulatory factors, and (8) socio-cultural factors (Flynn,
Dooley, & O’Sullivan, 2003).
Regardless of the categorization, the added resolution created by splitting
up changes or information into specific categories greatly helps searching, and
scanning efforts. Traditionally, information sources like journals, newspapers,
magazines, newsletters, and word of mouth among others kept individuals
abreast of changes. Yet developments in internet tools, such as Google alerts,
automated online news reporting through feeds, and journal databases which
send alerts for news articles, are new ways to stay on top of changes in the
environment. Researchers in high tech companies such as Intel, Cisco, and AMD
are well known for scanning journals for changes in technology and knowledge
and often use it as a source of new ideas. Unfortunately, there are only a few
articles linking environmental scanning to idea generation (Flynn, Dooley, &
O’Sullivan, 2003; Auster & Choo, 1992; Aguilar, 1967; Drucker, 1985).
A few fully detailed idea generation processes, like the Blue Ocean
Strategy, recommend environmental scanning (Kim & Mauborgne, 2005). One
major issue with environmental scanning is that it can quickly result in information
overload if the organization tries to observe too much from the environment.
Additionally, unfocused scanning may accumulate information which cannot be
used in idea generation. Idea generation processes like ‘lead user innovation’ by
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Von Hippel uses environmental scanning to look at changes in the way lead
users apply their technologies (von Hippel, Tomke, & Sonnack, 1999).
Nonetheless, environmental scanning should be focused toward
information which can be effectively used to generate ideas. For example, to
innovate in the supply chain process, a retail store may examine journals on
operations or articles on supply chain leadership companies, like Walmart. Thus,
environmental scanning for ideas may depend upon the type of ideas desired.
This is another reason why environmental scanning should be driven by strategy.
Environmental scanning can also look at history for information which can
spawn ideas. For example, the governments of developing countries can look at
the histories of economic development in industrialized nations like the US to
identify opportunities to fund developments in their own countries.

2.6.6. Seeding Ideas


The act of environmental scanning is very broad and already occurs in many
functions of a company, including competitive intelligence, market intelligence,
scanning of competitor’s offerings, mapping competitor’s pricing, reviewing new
technologies, general market research, and so forth. Each one of these activities
scans the environment in a particular way with a particular goal, like mapping the
competitor pricing with the goal of providing pricing information to the marketing
department.
The goal of environmental scanning is to help identify opportunities and to
seed the creation of ideas. Flynn et al. (2003) says environmental scanning is a
method of capturing stimuli which can be distributed to employee to spawn ideas.
Many of the already existing processes and functions, like competitor price
checking, can be slightly modified to capture information which may stimulate
ideas. For example, while scanning competitor prices, any weird or innovative
pricing displays can be noted and sent along with the pricing report to the
marketing department. This may result in the marketing team using the
78

information to generate new ideas related to pricing displays or result in the team
copying it, whereas normally, a typical pricing report would not capture this type
of useful information.
Seeding individuals with ideas is important in stimulating creativity. The
premise of Knowledge Brokering by Hardagon is that individuals can trade and
promote ideas when they interact with others, thereby increasing the ability to
solve problems and create new ideas (Hardagon & Sutton, 2000). Hardagon
continues by saying that knowledge brokering can be influenced by the company.
For example, office space designs which promote communication and
collaboration, like free coffee bars and community work areas, are a non-invasive
method of getting employees to share ideas (Bean, & Radford, 2002; Hardagon
& Sutton, 2000). While, formal methods of seeding and sharing ideas can be tech
box or software programs (Satzinger, Garfield, Nagasundaram, 1999; Kelley &
Littman, 2005; Gamlin, Yourd, & Patrick, 2007).
The 3M corporation even has formal technology fairs where other
employees share and spread ideas, technology, and knowledge (Hardagon &
Sutton, 2000). Again, seeding others with ideas, information, or concepts, can
be done formally or informally and greatly promote internal idea generation.

2.6.7. Opportunity Identifications


Opportunity identification is a recommended activity in many idea generation
processes, thus a discussion of it is needed to further understand idea
generation. Vandenbosch, Saatcioglu, and Fay (2006) believe ideas and
opportunities are intertwined. Recognizing or creating an opportunity is an
occasion for generating or testing an idea; an idea may lead to an opportunity
and it may require an idea to capitalize on an opportunity. Simply put, they are
saying that ideas and opportunities are often separated because one is seen as
the supporting base for the other, where, in fact, the act of creating an idea may
result in the discovery of an unseen opportunity, or vice versa.
79

Yet discovering an opportunity requires some creativity in itself and is


similar to the act of creating an idea. Referring back to the review of creativity
one can see that the act of opportunity identification can be seen to simulate
exploratory creativity because is it looking for unmet needs.
Environmental scanning to locate new opportunities or analyzing captured
information to locate unseen opportunities can seed an individual with the
stimulus needed to generate new ideas.

2.6.8. Issues and Problems with Idea Generation


Several concerns arise regarding the process of idea generation. Foremost,
despite the many books and articles on idea generation, it is still relatively in its
infancy. Compared to areas like quality manufacturing or business strategy,
innovation is poorly understood. Idea generation is often less understood as part
of the whole innovation process. To help new product managers, idea generation
must be placed in the larger context of the whole innovation process, and its
conceptual workings must be clarified. To accomplish this goal, this research
attempted to address several large problems which are preventing innovation
managers from improving their company’s idea generation processes.
First, there are very few comprehensive lists of idea generation activities,
and techniques which one can utilize. More importantly, the literature confuses
activities and techniques when in fact they are distinctly different. This research
study provides a series of tables of idea generation techniques, activities, and
processes so practitioners can have some idea of their options and have a
means of comparing them.
Second, the research on sources of ideas is often confusing and
contradictory. Some say sources of ideas are people like customer or suppliers
while others say it is a process, like marketing research. Consequently, several
articles mix idea generation activities (like marketing research) with sources of
ideas (like customers), which leads to more confusion.
80

Third, some authors advocate customers as the best sources of ideas,


while others suggest better ideas come from consultants or universities. This
begs the question: what are the best sources for ideas? A comprehensive review
of the sources of idea is needed and will be of value to innovation practitioners.
Fourth, there are no reviews of the major idea generation processes.
There are several famous idea generation processes like outcome based
innovation, IDEO’s innovation processes, and blue ocean strategy, none of which
have been reviewed or critiqued for their ability to create ideas. Each process is
very different and there are no guidelines to help innovation practitioners select
the process which is most appropriate for their needs.
If there is no literature reviewing or comparing these popular processes
how can one confidently select an idea generation process? Thus, the popular
idea generation processes will be described, reviewed, and compared in the next
section in order to address this issue.
Fifth, no articles were found on how to control the idea generation process
let alone any general models showing how to manage it. To manage the idea
generation process, one must begin with a clear understanding of how to control
it. Chapter 3 will review the points of control and create a general model for
controlling the whole idea generation process.
Finally, there are no tools to analyze or diagnose a company’s idea
generation process. The innovation value chain is an invaluable tool to assess a
company’s whole innovation process. Plus it can highlight companies which are
weak in internally generating ideas or sourcing ideas from the outside. But, the
innovation value chain cannot be used to analyze the particular weaknesses of a
company’s idea generation process.
To date, this research review was unable to discover any tools which
analyze the idea generation processes of a company to determine weaknesses
or points of poor management. This is understandable, given the relatively light
amount of research conducted on managing idea generation. Nonetheless, not
having a tool to analyze one’s own idea generation process is like having a
81

mechanic without a pressure gauge to test the compression of an engine’s


pistons. Consequently, there is a strong need for an analysis tool to assess the
effectiveness of the overall idea generation process.

2.6.9. Summary of Section


In summary, this section looked at what idea generation is and why it is
important. This section then quickly reviewed the research areas conducted on
idea generation to date. In particular, creativity, environmental scanning, seeding
ideas, and opportunity identification were examined.
The issues and problems related to the process of idea generation were
then discussed to be 1) the lack of a comprehensive list of techniques, activities,
and processes, 2) the confusion in the sources of ideas, 3) the best sources of
ideas, 4) lack of review of major idea generation processes, 5) no models to
control or manage idea generation, and finally 6) the lack of tools to analyze and
diagnose the idea generation process of a company. The following section will
address these problems.

2.7. Highly Detailed Review of Sources of Ideas, and Idea Generation


Techniques, Activities, and Processes
This section addresses several problems identified in the previous section, but
will concentrate on reviewing the techniques, activities, and processes which can
be used in idea generation. A detailed examination of these two items will fill a
gap in the literature and greatly aid innovation practitioners.

2.7.1. People are the Only Source of Ideas


Where do new ideas come from? What are the most likely sources for new
ideas? There seems to be a discrepancy in terms of the sources of ideas. Alam
(2003) shows the sources of ideas to be individuals or groups, while Rockford
82

(1991) and Stasch, Lonsdale, & LaVenka, (1992) describe it as involving a mix of
individuals and processes (like marketing studies, research projects). This
confusion creates a large problem which must be resolved in order to improve
innovation processes.
The definition of an idea as stated in Section 2.1 is “a result of association
and combination of other ideas inside a person’s mind” and that “the mental
activities they partake in create those ideas” (p. 15). Again, people are the
sources of ideas. This researcher has never seen an entity like a computer, or
machine creates an idea, with the exception of an article in MIT Technology
Review which described a computer algorithm that created novel patentable
designs of antennas (Williams, 2005).
Without people, there are no ideas. Manufacturing plants running totally
autonomously, software programs executing code on a server, machines
punching parts, have never been known to create an idea by themselves.
Individuals may look at things and come up with new ideas, but things were not
the source of the ideas, they were the stimulus!
The confusion in the term “source” results from confusing it with “seeding”,
which is the act of feeding the brain information, knowledge, and other ideas
which can be used creatively to come up with new ideas. This is why marketing
research itself does not create ideas - the people conducting the marketing
research do.
People are the source of ideas and activities are what produces these
ideas. Activities in the brain involving association, recombination, creativity and
so on, are necessary to create ideas. People in comas or who are unconscious
do not create ideas. People may create ideas while sleeping because their brains
are active and are actively recombining things in unique and often irrational
ways. By looking at it this way, some insights can be grasped.
83

Figure 2.18. Idea Creation in a Person’s Mind

When people and activities are separated, one can see how the activities
affect the output of ideas. A later part of this section will review techniques, like
visualization, redefining the question, and thought experiments, and how they
force the brain into a particular mental activity. Activities like marketing research
or strategic planning force the brain through a set of mental activities which may
increase the likelihood of ideas being generated.

Figure 2.19. Activities Leading to the Creation of Ideas

Figure 2.19 above shows two individuals, the top being an executive, and
the bottom an R&D person. By splitting the source from the activity one can see
the effect on each the individual (their creativity, IQ, role) opposed to the effect
which the activities have on the resulting ideas. A highly creative R&D person
84

using the detailed outcomes-based innovation process will produce many


valuable ideas, whereas, an executive of average creativity following an ad hoc
process of strategic planning, marketing review, then playing golf may also come
up with ideas, but of much lower quality.

Figure 2.20. Unknown Activities which Lead to the Creation of an Idea

Sometimes, individuals will not remember which activities lead up to the


creation of their idea. From a management perspective, this is not as useful
because processes which are unknown cannot be examined, refined, or even
controlled; hence the idea may seem like a serendipitous creation which is hard
to reproduce. From this point forward, the source of the idea being the individual
or group of individuals will be separated from the activities which they performed
which resulted in ideas.

2.7.2. Techniques, Activities, and Full Processes for Idea Generation


Again there are many techniques, activities, and processes for generating ideas;
importantly one should be very careful to distinguish among them. According to
Encarta, a technique is “procedure, skill, or art used in a specific task” and should
not be confused with activities, or processes. For example, a technique may be
to do “what if scenarios” and “visualization exercises”, while an activity would be
a brainstorming session where several of these techniques can be employed.
An activity can be something like marketing research, brainstorming,
proto-typing, charting, or surveying customers. An activity may be short (like a
five minute session of prototyping) or a long protracted task (like surveying all the
customers a company serves) conducted over several months.
85

Technique 1 Technique ... Technique N


Activity 1

Ideas

Individual(s)
Activity 1 Activity ... Activity N

Whole Processes

Figure 2.21. Illustration of How Techniques are Embedded in Activities,


which are Embedded in an Idea Generation Process)

A process is a series or ordered set of activities with a desired set of


outcomes. Idea generation processes include IDEO’s deep dive, blue ocean
strategy processes, and outcome-based innovation. Tables 2.6 to 2.10 list idea
generation techniques, activities, and processes. Naturally, there may be some
arguments created over the categorizations, but offering practitioners an ordered
list is valuable regardless of discrepancies in these categorizations.
86

Table 2.6. Techniques which Aid in Idea Generation

Techniques Description Reference Note


Visualizations Imaging the solution, imaging the problem, * PDMA handbook 2005
visualizing the actions, items, issues, recombining chapter 17,
and associating things visually * Jack Foster "How to Get
Measure, tests, validate, via physical, virtual, or Ideas"
* PDMA handbook 2005 This is very broad, and can include
Experimentation for
thought experimentation with the goal of confirming chapter 17, *Tom Kelley, product, technical, market,
validation a hypothesis or gathering data * Rochford Linda 2001 concept, functionality,
* Hardagon 2000 manufacturing and testing
Experimentation for Learning, trials, or spawning new thoughts through * Design Thinking Tim Brown
physical, virtual, or thought experiments Harvard Business Review June
Learning 2008

Graphing, plotting, Helps visualize unknown or un-seen relationships * PDMA Handbook 2005 There are hundreds of different
chapter 17 ways to display information
charting
Scenario games Create scenarios and try to play them out to their * Jack Foster "How to Get
logical end. Ideas" pg 117,
* Rochford Linda 2001
Aggregation , Combination Combining characteristics of a product, service, * Rochford Linda 2001
offering, processes, into a single thing

Metaphors & Analogies Compare a problem, solution, or thing to a person, * PDMA handbook 2005 Our truck is tough like a ram, why
place, thing, concept, time, or experiences to draw chapter 17, not make it look more like ar ram
out relationships * Jack Foster "How to Get
Ideas" 110
Though experiment Measure, tests, validate, explore, through thought * PDMA handbook 2005
by deductive or inductive reasoning and proceed chapter 17,
through to the logical results to gain an insight * Rochford Linda 2001

Redefining question Re-wording the question to change the perspective * Jack Foster "How to Get How do I work harder to "how to I
on the problem Ideas" get more work done" (improve
work efficiency)
Think like a child Being open to re-questioning base assumptions, look * Jack Foster "How to Get Why do refrigerators have to have
at the world with extreme curiously to find new Ideas" pg 55 doors?
relationships
Lateral thinking The shifting of thinking patterns, away from * Edward de Bono The Use of
entrenched or predictable thinking patterns to new Lateral Thinking, published in
or unexpected ideas 1967. * Jack Foster
Remove boundaries, and Remove boundaries, and retest base assumptions, * Jack Foster "How to Get
do not assume restriction unless strictly told Ideas" pg 102
base assumptions
Set strict limits Set limitations, remove typical options * Jack Foster "How to Get Find solutions within limitations
Ideas" pg 106
Purposefully break the purposefully violate base assumptions, and rules * Jack Foster "How to Get
Ideas" pg 115
rules
Re-define the problem Change the format of the question, * Jack Foster "How to Get
Ideas" pg 131
Abstraction Make the problem or situation more abstract * Rochford Linda 2001 Increase company revenue changed
to better the company

Adaptation Adapting a solution, offering, process to suit a * Rochford Linda 2001,


companies need by modifying it * Hardagon 1997 & 2000
Reduction Reducing the amount, functionality, or features of a * Blue Ocean Strategy 2005
particular thing

Elimination Eliminating a particular, feature, attribute * Blue Ocean Strategy 2005

Raise or increase Increasing a particular feature, attribute or factor * Blue Ocean Strategy 2005 Large button telephones,
above the norm in that industry calculators and remotes

Creation Creating new features, attributes, factors, which an * Blue Ocean Strategy 2005
industry has not seen

Division of part Breaking up the whole in to smaller and smaller * Rochford Linda 2001
features, functions, or pieces

Iteration Repeating a process or set of actions with the goal of * Rochford Linda 2001
narrowing them down to a set of solutions

Devil's Advocate or A method of exposing every weak point, while * Rochford Linda 2001
letting others quickly find solutions
methodical doubt
Detailed observation Looking closely at something, trying to understand * Hardagon 1997 & 2000
every facet and function * Tom Kelley 2001 & 2005
87

Table 2.7. Activities which Specifically Trigger Creativity

Activities Description References


Activities that are Specifically Creative
Brainstorming Creating ideas in open discussion, (typically *Chapter 17 PDMA handbook 2005,
many techniques are applied) Rochford, Ref Tom Kelley, Ref
Hardagon, Hsiao, S. -., & Chou, J. -.
(2004
Method "6-3-5" "6 participants write 3 ideas within 5 mins on * Belliveau, P., Griffen. A., &
paper, then pass ideas to next person till one Somermeyer, S. (2007) The PDMA
full rotation is made ToolBook 1 for New Product
Development, Hoboken, New
Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. Inc
Problem inventory generating a list of negatives of a offering (2007) The PDMA ToolBook
then finding solution to eliminate those
analysis negatives

Visualization exercises Same as techniques just proceed as a formal (2007) The PDMA ToolBook
activity

Experimentation Measure, tests, validate, explore, via * 2005 PDMA hand book chap 17,
physical, virtual, or thought experimentation Tom Kelly, Ref 30, Hardago, Stefan
activities Thomke 2001
Scenario activities Instead of the technique, this a full activity * Foster, J. (1996). How to Get
where scenarios for marketing strategy, Ideas, Berret-Koehler Publishers,
business unit strategy, tech strategy, were San Francisco163
feasible scenarios are thought out * Rochford, L. (1991). Generating
and screening new product ideas.
Industrial Marketing Management,
20(4), 287-296.

Six thinking hats role based brainstorming activities where * DeBono Group
each individual plays a different role, Facts, http://www.debonogroup.com/6ha
optimism, judgment, feeling, creativity, ts.htm
control
Focus group activities A collected group of individual focusing on * Rochford, L. (1991). Generating
giving feedback on a particular, product, and screening new product ideas.
service, and process Industrial Marketing Management,
Incubation & Relaxing and thinking lightly or not at all *20(4), 287-296.
Foster, J. (1996). How to Get
about the problem to be solved (sleeping) Ideas, Berret-Koehler Publishers,
relaxation letting the mind sub-consciously work on the San Francisco163
problem
88

Table 2.8. Activities which Seed Individuals with Ideas

Activities Description References


Seeding activities
Environmental Scanning the outside environment in the Drucker 1985, Auster & Choo 1993,
areas mentioned in (environmental scanning) REF 27
scanning
Systematic search of a researching all direction starting from fixed * Rochford, L. (1991). Generating
starting point and screening new product ideas.
field Industrial Marketing Management,
20(4), 287-296.
Conferences and trade Industry conferences to aid in learning about
new knowledge, technologies,
shows developments,
Reviewing idea Reviewing the ideas in an idea bank *Hardagon, A. and Sutton, R.I
(2000) Building and innovation
databanks factory. Harvard Business Review,
78 May-June 157-166 Link

Technology fairs same as conferences but held internally just *Hardagon, A. and Sutton, R.I
for employees (2000) Building and innovation
factory. Harvard Business Review,
78 May-June 157-166 Link

Suggestion & Capturing ideas and issues from internal and


external individuals
improvement capture
Deep questioning Question with the goal of deeply understand * Foster, J. (1996). How to Get
all aspects of a offering, service, industry Ideas, Berret-Koehler Publishers,
San Francisco pg 146.

Tech boxes Maintaining a archive of products, materials, *Hardagon, A. and Sutton, R.I
pictures and other things that can seed ideas (2000) Building and innovation
factory. Harvard Business Review,
78 May-June 157-166 Link
*Kelley, T., & Littman, J., & Peters
(2001). The Art of innovation,
Lessons in Creativity from IDEO,
America's Le

Company get Meeting where employees can talk


informally like at bars, restaurants, or parties
togethers
89

Table 2.9. Activities Which Use Analysis to Spawn Creativity and Ideas
Activities Description References
Analysis based idea generating activities
Opportunity identification Locating unmet needs or gaps in the market place that can * Flynn, M., Dooley, L., O'Sullivan, D., &
present opportunities Cormican, K. (2003). Idea management for
organizational innovation. International
Journal of Innovation Management, 7(4),
417-442.
Opportunity analysis Analyzing to see if a opportunity possess real value, and
looking for potential problem and issue that can be solved
to realize that opportunity * Flynn, M., Dooley, See above.
Customer needs analysis The customer needs are determined via surveying,
interviewing, or feedback mechanisms. Feedback then is
analyzed to determine customer needs
Wasted base analysis Looking for sources of waste tangible and in-tangible and
finding ideas to utilize that waste

Competitive mapping Mapping competitor via, offering, pricing, branding, or


other means to extract gaps and understanding

Analysis of customer feedback Examining customer feedback to determin unmet needs, or


opportunities

Ethnographic research Researching customer behaviors and cultural aspects across Belliveau, P., Griffen. A., & Somermeyer, S.
different cultures to gain insight and understanding (2007) The PDMA ToolBook 1 for New
Product Development, Hoboken, New
Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. Inc
Application Examining possibilities and results by application (2007) The PDMA ToolBook

Attributes based discriminant Develop by performing a discriminant analysis from brand's * Rochford, L. (1991). Generating and
effective attributes, then mapping and analyzing them screening new product ideas. Industrial
analysis (PREMAP) Marketing Management, 20(4), 287-296.
* Foster, J. (1996). How to Get Ideas, Berret-
Koehler Publishers,

SWOT analysis Looking at the strengths, weakness, opportunities, &


threats to a competitor or offering
Morphological analysis/ "Splitting up problem into parts and look for partial * Belliveau, P., Griffen. A., & Somermeyer, S.
solutions to each, leading to generation of ideas" (2007) The PDMA ToolBook 1 for New
Matrix Product Development, Hoboken, New
Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. Inc.
Competitive intelligence Observing, reporting, & documenting competitor actions
(changes in offerings, prices, brand, partnership, strategy …)
activities
Critical path mapping & Graphically representing activities their duration and
finding gaps and problems with their flow
analysis
Dimensional investigation Mathematical equation used to relate functions, and * Belliveau, P., Griffen. A., & Somermeyer, S.
economic properties of the product (2007) The PDMA ToolBook 1 for New
Product Development, Hoboken, New
Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. Inc.
Porters analysis Using porter's analysis to understand an industry and gain
insight into power relationship

Portfolio analysis Looking at the portfolio of offerings to find new


possibilities, gaps, or weakness in the offerings

Gap analysis Comparing where a specific performance metric should be


against where it is

Patent scanning Reviewing new or expired patents to see new product or


service opportunities
Whole product solution Analyzing the offerings of an emerging market and * Moore, Geoffrey, (2004). Crossing the
determining which offering must be made to complete the Chasm, HarperCollins Publishers, New York,
analysis whole product solution New York,

Marketing research Researching the market, competitors, and market condition


to determine trends, changes, and gain insight

Forecasting Predicting trends, and forecasting future developments in * Kahn, K. B., Castellion, G., Griffin, A.
an industry, then trying to predict customer needs and (2005). The PDMA Handbook of New
requirements Product Development: 2nd (228-248).
Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
Inc.
Root Cause Analysis Looking for root causes of: failure, issues, and problems in
the process of trying to diagnosis a system, behavior, or
processes
90

Table 2.10. Full Idea Generation Processes


Processes Description References

Full Idea generating processes


1 Full Contextual research Detailed studies of customer * Conley, C.V. (2005). Chapter 15: Contextual Research
unmentioned needs and situation for New Product Development. In A. Kahn, K. B.,
process Castellion, G., Griffin, A. (2005). The PDMA Handbook
of New Product Development: 2nd (228-248). Hoboken,
New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. Inc. Link to

2 Outcome based innovation Uncovers desired user outcomes then *Ulwick, A. W. (2007, Fall). Turn customer input into
generates ideas to fill those outcomes innovation. Harvard Business Review, 80(1), 91-97.
*Sutton, N. (2007). Outcome-driven innovation®: A
critical review. Masters thesis, Cranfield CERES
Ulwick's Job Mapping Define the job process then use a set of * Bettencourt, L., & Ulwick A., The customer centered
techniques to add, remove, combined, Innovation Map, Harvard business Review, May 2008
or split the jobs into parts, use that 109-114
understand to generate ideas
3 Deep Dive by IDEO Similar to contextual research but * Kelley, T., & Littman, J. (2001). The Art of innovation,
heavier on idea generation Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading
Design Firm, New York, New York: Doubleday
publishers
* Kelley, T., & Littman, J. (2005). The Ten Faces of
Innovation: IDEO's Strategies for Bea
4 Blue Ocean strategy Heavy on new ways to analyze market to * Kim, W. C., & Mauborgne, R. (2005). Blue Ocean
find gaps to generate new sub-markets Strategy How to Create Uncontested Market Space and
with very little immediate competition Make the Competition Irrelevant. Boston,
Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Press
5 TRIZ based innovation A russian idea generation technique * Hart M. book review of Fey, V., & Rivin,. E Innovation
combined with strategy on Demand: New Product Development Using TRIZ,
New York, New York, Cambridge University Press

Utilizes environmental scanning, * Flynn, M., Dooley, L., O'Sullivan, D., & Cormican, K. (2003). Idea
6 Flynn's idea generation management for organizational innovation. International Journal of
opportunity identification, and ends
process with idea generation
Innovation Management, 7(4), 417-442.

7 Lead User innovation Following and working with lead users to * Von Hippel, E., Thomke, S., & Sonnack, M. (1999).
generate leading edge ideas Creating breakthroughs at 3M. Harvard Business
Review, 77(5), 47-57, 183.
8 Multi-day ideation retreats A fully structured retreat design to run * Miller, C.W. (2005). Chapter 17: Getting Lighting to
through many idea generation activities Strike: Ideation and Concept Generation, In A. Kahn, K.
over a series of days B., Castellion, G., Griffin, A. (2005). The PDMA
Handbook of New Product Development: 2nd (228-
248). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. In

2.7.3. Review of top idea generation processes


Many of these techniques and activities are well known in business practices
while others are not. For the goal of brevity this study does not discuss any of the
techniques or activities in detail, and instead will concentrate on elaborating on
idea generation processes. These idea generation processes are consider
extremely valuable because they have been tested to be effective in generating
valuable ideas and again tie together a set of activities, which utilize multiple
91

techniques to produce ideas. There seems to be few full idea generation


processes which have been proven to be effective in creating valuable ideas. An
individual could slap together a set of activities from the tables above and label it
an idea generation processes. But creating an effective idea generation process
is much more difficult. Hence, this research views proven idea generation
processes as gems, because of their rarity and difficulty in refining.
Consequently, the following section discusses the top idea generation processes
in detail.

2.7.3.1. The Contextual Research Idea Generation Process


Chapter fifteen of the 2005 PDMA handbook written by Conley (2005) reviews
contextual research for new product development. Contextual research can be
thought of as indepth customer research, where one looks for information about
what people do, rather than what they think and say. The context is the every day
situation of the customer, their environment; their behavior, the situation they are
in, and their local environment (Conley, 2005).
Typically, customer feedback leads to minor changes or incremental
innovations in the product, whereas, contextual research looks at the bigger
picture to determine unseen opportunities for innovation by looking at the
environment, interaction, processes, activities, and customer types. As Von
Hippel puts it, this information is “sticky” because it is very difficult for the user to
convey this detailed information” (Von Hippel, Tomke, & Sonnack, 1999).
The power of contextual research is its ability to communicate this “sticky”
information and use it to spot unmet needs or simulate new innovative ideas. The
process of contextual research involves: (1) designing the study, (2) selecting the
research team, (3) gathering required research tools like cameras, (4) selecting
the customers to observe, and (5) creating a topic guide for interviews.
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Figure 2.22. Illustration of the Contextual Research Process

The research is based on a vigilant observation of users in their


environment. This is commonly done by job shadowing or observation from a
distance. Also it is recommended that users verbalize their actions by talking
about them out loud. Activities should be captured on rich media like video,
photographs, and audio tape, as well as more traditional lead mediums like note
pads. It is recommended that this take place over several observation sessions.
After the research info is gathered it is analyzed to determine the goals of each
activity and then coded into bite-size chunks. Coding is used to identify patterns
of issues. “In analyzing data, one must avoid simply responding to problems
seen in the field, because many problems are symptoms of a larger systematic
issues” (Conley, 2005, p. 98).
The coded information is then used by the new product development
teams to extract insight and simulate ideas. Next, several brainstorm meetings
are performed with each concentrating on a different issues or patterns
discovered during coding. The generated ideas should be recorded, sorted, and
voted on, then documented. Reporting the contextual research to the larger
organization is a vital step, and helps seed other individuals outside the NPD
group with idea and information. Report of the research can be displayed by
videotaped examples, diagrams, illustrations, photographs, and in the traditional
written form. This process produces the largest benefit in that it develops a deep
understanding of customer needs which has been said to develop the most
valuable ideas (Veryzer, Mozota, 2005; Flint, 2002).
Another benefit is the hard to see customer issues and problems can be
uncovered and solved. Also by heavily document the finding, the research can be
used at future brainstorming session for years to come. Finally, by spreading the
93

research results individuals all over the organization can be seeded with valuable
information. This can be thought of as taking advantage of the organization’s
creativity to help spawn more ideas. A typical study is cited to take 20 to 30 visits,
and take anywhere 12-16 weeks at a cost of $150,000 plus.

2.7.3.2. Outcome Based Innovation


Outcome-based innovation by Anthony Ulwick looks at gathering the customer’s
desired outcomes, not their espoused needs or wants. By doing so he states
more valuable products and service ideas can be obtained (Ulwick, 2007). He
also warns about the dangers of responding directly to customer wants and
whims, and says a company should not be entirely customer-driven. A major
change in the way interviews are conducted is required to gather the customer’s
desired outcomes. For example a customer may say he wants a medical tool
made out of a more expensive stainless steel, when in fact he is looking for an
outcome of increased durability.
The steps in the process are (1) plan the outcome-based customer
interview, (2) capture desired outcomes, (3) organize the outcomes, (4) have
customers rate the importance of each outcomes, (5) use the outcome to
uncover opportunities, and (6) brainstorm ideas for the selected opportunities.

Figure 2.23. Illustration of the Outcome-Based Innovation Process


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The first step requires the selection of the customers. Conducting outcome
driven interviewing requires training and practice because the interviewer must
coax out desired outcome not needs or solutions, then restate the outcome with
measurable results. For example, an interviewer must get the customer to say an
outcome like “they want to easily remove your oil in 5 minutes” not the feature of
“have a more accessible oil plug.”
Organizing outcomes requires compiling a list of collected outcomes,
removing duplicates, and categorizing outcomes into groups. Rating outcomes is
the next important step and requires the research team to present a full list of
outcomes to the user so (a) they can rate the respective importance of each
outcome, and (b) they can rate their level of satisfaction if that outcome is
achieved. Next the research team must categorize and rate uncovered
opportunities. Ulwick proposes a numerical rating system to rank uncovered
opportunities. Finally, the top opportunities are the topic of idea generation
activities like brainstorming activities.
The benefit of this process is that it is deeply rooted in customer
understanding, and better yet, the fact that the customer has identified his level
of satisfaction if the given outcomes can be satisfied. Hence, the risk that
customers may reject new proposed products and solution ideas is much lower.
So, this process is seen to develop higher quality and higher value ideas.
Moreover, the process starts by focusing on customers being served by the
company, but at the same time allows for new strategic options for new products
and services to be developed. This process is a poweful way of coming up with
high quality incremental and disruptive product and service ideas because it was
quoted to be successfully used and because it has a well thought out flow.

2.7.3.3. IDEO’s Idea Generation Process


IDEO’s idea generation process shares similarities to contextual research except
it is much shorter in duration and more intense in its level of activities. IDEO is a
world famous multidisciplinary design firm with their own special idea generation
95

process focused on delivering valuable ideas in a short one or two week period
to their clients. Their process uses substantially fewer resources than a full
contextual research study (Kelley & Littman, 2005; Kelley, Littman, & Peters,
2001).
The process starts with a meeting with the client and the idea generation
team so the problem can be bounded, like developing a new tooth care product.
The team, typically multidisciplinary in nature, splits into subgroups, then goes
out into the field to observe users, buyers, and influencers of the target area
much like contextual research. After about a day’s worth of information collection,
the teams reassemble to discuss their findings.
Unlike contextual research, which spends a lot of time coding and
analyzing data, IDEO’s process goes right into discussing the findings. During
this discussion which is, like a “show and tell” activity, they discuss problems they
found, strange behaviors they noticed, and the overall context of the users’
situations. They do this by reviewing pictures, videos, or demonstrating activities.
Next they move into a series of brainstorming and screening activities. First, each
individual writes as many ideas as they can, in say, a 20 minute period, after
which they all discuss their ideas. Then a collaborative brainstorming session
takes place.
At the end of the session each individual is asked to submit their top four
ideas which are then posted on the walls around the room. The group votes on
the submitted ideas, and from one to three ideas are pushed into prototyping.
During prototyping the teams do everything they can to transform the ideas into a
physical or tangible prototype. The process ends with a formal presentation to
the clients where a few fully developed ideas along with their prototypes are
shown and discussed.
96

Figure 2.24. Illustration of the IDEO’s Idea Generation Process

Again this process has a base in customer understanding, but not as


strong as a base in outcome-based innovation or contextual research. This
obviously helps ground the idea in a level of practicality, while giving it the
needed stimulus for brainstorming.
This process is also much heavier on the creativity aspect because many
of the activities are designed to simulate and encourage creativity. The
prototyping phase is pronounced, mainly because IDEO deals heavily with
customer product designs and because they see a strong creative value in
prototyping and experimentation. This process can be applied formally inside a
company; however, the culture required to effectively conduct this process must
be finely tuned to be tolerant of the wildly creative atmosphere required by it.

2.7.3.4. Blue Ocean Strategy


The main premise of Blue Ocean Strategy by Kim and Mauborgne (2005) is that
a market can be created which has all the attributes of the main market but has a
lower level of competition and much more room to grow. This approach makes
the analogy that existing markets are like red oceans colored by the blood of
competition, and that blue oceans are fresh untapped or emerging markets
where competition is relatively scarce or nonexistent. For example, Cirque du
Soleil created a new type of circus and Net Jets created a new market space
between charter jets, private jets, and commercial travel.
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Kim and Mauborgne (2005) proved the value of blue ocean markets
through their study of 180 companies which found blue ocean products and
services account for 61% of gross profits, even though they accounted for the
smallest number of launches (14% of total product and service launches). The
results of blue ocean activities can range from creations of new product and
services ideas all the way to dramatically altering the way a company offers its
business services.

Wine Market
High
Premium Wines
Yellow Tail
Relative levels

Budget Wines
Low

Price Prestige Taste Fun

Figure 2.25. The Strategic Canvas from Blue Oceans Strategy with
Three Plotted Value Curves

The Blue Ocean Strategy is built around the strategic canvas (shown in
the figure above) which is a very useful tool for analyzing factors of competition in
a market. Figure 2.25 shows the value curves of budget wines, premium wines,
and Yellow Tail wine. Notice the difference in the value curve of the Yellow Tail
as being high in fun. The combination of the value curves of Yellow Tail wine sets
it apart from competitors. Blue Ocean does not suggest a given process but
rather a set of activities which rather easily be combined into a formal idea
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generation process. For the sake of clarity, this thesis has created one such
process based on pages 89 to 93 of the book (Kim & Mauborgne, 2005).

Figure 2.26. Illustration of a Blue Ocean Strategy Idea Generation Process

The proposed process starts with a development team conducting primary


research by speaking with customers, non-customers, competitors, and similar
solutions in different markets. The team then conducts secondary research
(literature scanning) on trends in the market, demand, major factors of
competition, and strategic changes in their markets. Next, the team proceeds
through six separate brainstorming activities, each resulting in two to three new
value curves. Each brainstorming activity uses the techniques of reducing,
eliminating, raising, and/or creating factors for the new value curves. The
brainstorming activities are:
1) Look across the industry to determine trade-offs which customers
innately make. For example, NetJets saw the trade-off in convenience and cost
between charter/private jets and commercial airline travel, and tried to capture
the best of each.
2) Look across strategic groups within an industry. Toyota did this when
they created Lexus by adding the quality and amenities of a Mercedes to Toyotas
while reducing the price, and removing some of the more expensive/un-
necessary features.
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3) Look across chains of users, influencers, & buyer to see if there can be
shifts, addition, reduction, or elimination in the value curve which would better
satisfy a single or all groups. An example is the paper towels which are
perforated in thirds stratifying mothers (buyers) who were concerned about their
children (users) wasting paper towels.
4) Look across complementary products and services which the
customers use before, during, and after. For example, Barnes & Noble uses in
store coffee bars and food to enhance their value curve because they realized
their customers were leaving to get those items and by putting those things in
their stores resulted in longer customer visits and a more pleasant customer
experience.
5) Look across functional and emotional appeal is simply taking something
functional and making it more emotional or vica versa. Starbuck added and
emotional experience to a coffee house, while the Body Shop removed the
emotional packaging and presentation of perfumes and soaps.
6) Look across time by having an insight into trends, “how the trend will
change value to customer and impact the company’s business model.” Three
principles to assessing trends are they must be decisive to your business, be
irreversible, and have a clear trajectory. For example, Cisco saw the trend for
increased data exchange and hence they adapted their value curve to fully take
advantage of this trend. Apple saw the clear trend of downloading music online
and legalized it with Apple’s iTunes.
After each of the brainstorming sessions, one to three value curves are
created. The new value curves are shown in a visual strategy fair where each is
discussed for 5 minutes. The judges (possibly executives) cast votes or assign
points to each curve. The best curves are then analyzed, tested, and refinement
using the buyer’s utility map, and price corridor of mass tools among others. After
refinement the ideas with their respective value curves are again presented to
the executive committee for review.
100

Again the goal of the Blue Ocean Strategy process is very different than
other idea generation processes because it looks for ideas which can
dramatically change the strategy of a company. This researcher sees this as a
valuable process which could augment executive’s strategic planning processes.
One should note, ideas from this process most likely cannot be placed
directly into the new product development process, because they require
changes to the company as a whole which is greatly outside the scope of the
NPD process.

2.7.3.5. Flynn’s Idea Generation


Flynn’s process uniquely highlights environmental scanning as a major step. The
first step in his processes involves setting the strategic direction and can be
based on product portfolio needs (Flynn, Dooley, & O’Sullivan, 2003).

Figure 2.27. Illustration of Flynn’s Idea Generation Process

The goal of the next step, being environmental scanning, is to capture


stimulus and information. This activity should be bounded because not
everything can be observed. The goal of the following step, of opportunity
identification and analysis, is to find opportunities (as mentioned in section 2.6.7)
and validate the value of those opportunities. Finally, opportunities are used
along with information from environmental scanning in idea generation sessions,
and ideas are captured and recorded.
The major issue with this process is that it is too broad to be directly
useful. All of the activities could vary greatly in scope and be un-manageable if
not bounded, like environmental scanning. Hence, this researcher sees Flynn’s
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process as a general map which can be used to make more specific idea
generation processes. To illustrate this, Figure 7.28 shows a process which
more specifically generates ideas from information captured from competitors.

Figure 2.28. Modification of Flynn’s Idea Generation Process

2.7.4. Detailed Examination of Sources of Ideas


The previous part of this chapter had an underlining assumption that ideas were
being generated from individuals inside the company, which is not always the
case. Many more ideas are being generated by others outside the company
which could be turned into new innovative products and services. It is a severe
error to think ideas can only come from inside your company. This error has been
termed the “not-invented-here” syndrome (NIH syndrome) where a company
rejects idea generated outside its walls because they think those ideas are
inferior to their own. Ideas from outside the company, can be (a) used directly
with little or no modification, and/or (b) can be modified to suit the needs of
the company, and/or (c) can be used to seed people inside the company
with stimulus to help them generate their own ideas.
At present, there are many external sources of ideas; again a source is
an individual or group of individuals. Additionally, there are many internal sources
of ideas other than individuals in the new product development groups.
The literature on idea management and idea banks states many
companies in general lose or drop ideas which are not from their usual sources,
and hence idea management programs should be put in place to capture these
ideas (Flynn, Dooley, & O’Sullivan, 2003; Gorski, & Heinekamp, 2002).
102

The following tables were compiled to show the many potential sources of
ideas, and also show respective activities and methods which can idea from
those sources.

Table 2.11. Major Categories for Source of Ideas

Source

1 Employee sources / Internal sources

2 Customer sources

3 Organizational sources

4 Supplier sources

5 Competitor sources

6 Other companies

The sources of ideas have been split into five main categories. In-
particular, Alam (2003), Belliveau, Griffin, & Somermeyer (2002), and Stasch,
Lonsdale, & LaVenka (1992) have spoken in detail about sources of ideas and
provided a strong base to create the following tables. Employees are highly cited
as sources of ideas especially in articles discussing ideas management and idea
banks. Typically, executives and R&D employee submit ideas, but expanding the
envelope to all employees in the company can tap valuable sources of ideas.
Parnell, & Menefee (2007) show that employees may have different
perspectives based on their positions that may influence their decision making.
This gives a basis for the obvious assumption that employees in certain positions
may be more likely to come up with ideas based on their perspectives and duties.
So, a line operator may be more likely to come up with ideas for reducing line
cost and down time, while an executive may be more likely to come up with
strategic ideas to fend of competition.
103

Table 2.12. Employee Based Sources of Ideas

Direct way to In-direct ways to


Source Description get ideas generate ideas References
Employee Sources
1 Executive Executive in the company direct solicitation, utilized Suggestion system, idea
idea generation activities database
and processes, Ref 30, 58
2 Management Management professional in Same as 1 Same as 1
the company Ref 30, 58
3 Finance Self-explanatory Same as 1 Same as 1
4 Sales Self-explanatory Same as 1 Same as 1
5 Sales Reps Sales reps differ from sales in contractual agreements, Same as 1
that they work for the direct solictation,
company through in-direct
means Ref 30
6 Marketing Self-explanatory Same as 1 Same as 1 Ref 30
7 R&D Self-explanatory Same as 1 Same as 1 Ref 30
8 Customer service Self-explanatory Same as 1 Same as 1 Ref 30
9 Operation / production Self-explanatory Same as 1 Same as 1 Ref 30
10 Think-tank A group dedicated to coming Same as 1 Same as 1
up with new ideas, research,
and knowledge Ref 28,33,58,
11 Annoymous employees Self-explanatory Same as 1 Same as 1
11 Quality control Self-explanatory Same as 1 Same as 1 Ref 30

2.7.4.1. Customers as Sources of Ideas


Customers are the first major source of ideas, and have been split into the seven
categories shown in Table 2.13. Interesting most companies focus on their core
customers groups because they provide the bulk of the business. However,
innovation experts strongly advocate reaching out to new customer groups. To
avoid this natural tendency to concentrate on the core customers, 3M has an
edict which requires 30% of revenues of a business unit must come from new
products released in the last four years (Collins, & Porras, 2002).
104

Table 2.13. Customer Sources Which Can Result in Ideas

Direct way to In-direct ways to


Source Description get ideas generate ideas References
Customer Sources
1 Homogeneous This is typically a sub-segment of the Direct solication; Customer Deep market research;
customer group companies customer which all share submitted ideas; contextual research; problem
similar characteristics and attributes interviews; statifaction analysis; Customer Gap
surveys; focus groups; Analysis; satisfaction surveys ,
customer contracts many others
negotations, others
Ref 18,21,27,23,
2 Core customer Customer groups that provide the
groups bulk of the revenue or profit for the same as 1 same as 1 Ref 54, 32, 30, 58, REF Neal &
company. Corkindale 1998,
3 Lead User Highly advanced user has needs way Direct customer request, See lead users innnovation
in advance of the bulk of the market interviews, lead user process by von Hippel
place, because they are visionaries processes, focus groups,
and try an advances quiker to get a customer projects Ref von Hippel HBR 1999,
competitive edge Urban & von Hippel 1986
4 Possible new Customers the company is not yet
serving but would like to. same as 1 same as 1
customer group
5 Dis-satisfied Customer that are dissatisfied and Customer interviews,
Ref 58, Wharton: How to turn
customers are still with your company, or have customer feedback surveys,
customer ideas into
switched to a competitor. May also dissatisfaction survey, focus same as 1 innovation HBR Companies
include dissatisfied customer of a groups and the customer who hate
competitor. them McGovern & Moon
6 User, inflencer, buyer The individuals buying, using, and
customer groups influencing the purchase may be very
Ref Blue ocean strategy, Ref
different. Each group should be same as 1 same as 1 Harvard Business Review on
considered differently for ideas, to Innovation 2001 Chan Kim &
better satisfy all groups. Mauborgne
7 Anonymous Customer who submit ideas Received though Idea contests, suggestion
annoymously or been recorded as annoymous submittion or systems
annoymous direct contact but not
recorded Ref 40

Homogeneous customer groups are customer groups with similar needs


and attributes and are often studied during market segmentation studies. By
listening to them, ideas can be extracted which may better serve those groups.
A lead user was shown to be a source of ideas by Eric von Hippel, and is
defined as users who are working at the for-front of trends and technology in their
markets and are experience problems way before their peers. Von Hippel also
proposed a full detailed idea generation process for use with lead users, called
“lead user innovation” (von Hippel, Tomke, & Sonnack, 1999).
Dissatisfied users are a great, often overlooked, source of new ideas
because they are aware of the problems which led to their dissatisfaction.
Contacting dissatisfied customers is left to customer services which should try to
capture information from dissatisfied customers. This information can be used by
new product development team to come up with better ideas. For example, one
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woman who was very dissatisfied with Nabisco Oreo packaging which could not
be easily closed, told customer service the company should change the
packaging immediately. The result? Nabisco (Oreo) released a simple resealable
flap that has since increased the freshness and consumption rates of their Oreos.
Users, influencers, and buyers are different customer groupings even
though they are often referred to as a single unit. For example, a user of a
construction tool may be a construction worker, the influencer may be a foreman,
and the buyer may be the owner of the construction company - each of which
have their own specific needs. Finally, customers may sometimes anonymously
submit ideas to a company. Unfortunately, follow-up feedback or additional
information cannot be obtained (Perk, Cooper, & Jones, 2005).

2.7.4.2. Non-for-profit Organizational as Sources of Ideas


NASA is well known to be a source of inventions and ideas, and has been
credited with many well known inventions like the microchip. National
laboratories are a government funded way of inducing innovations in US
companies by creating new knowledge and spreading novel concepts. There are
a number of national laboratories each having their own licensing and technology
transfer departments. Keeping up with the invention and discovery of all of these
can be a daunting task. National labs are very similar to NASA in that they all
have formal licensing departments and continually market their achievements.
106

Table 2.14. Non-for-profit Organizational Based Sources of Ideas

In-direct ways
Direct way to to generate
Source Description get ideas ideas References
Non-Profit Organizational Sources (not competitors)
1 NASA NASA openly lists Visit website, talk to Scanning new technology
inventions that can be licensing officer, scanning releases at there
licensed and tries activity new technology releases website; scanning SBIR,
to seek placements for STTR awards; Open
the promising innovation network
technologies
technology.jsc.nasa.gov/
2 National Lab National laboratory of Visiting respective scanning published Limited by design, R&D
the US and other country website, talking to literature, open laboratories in the US national
produce many licensing officers at each innovation network innovation system Crow,
Bozeman 2001 ,
technology related ideas lab, solicing national labs,
www.lanl.gov, www.anl.gov,
scanning new technology www.sandia.gov, www.jlab.org,
releases www.bnl.gov,
www.inel.gov,www.inl.gov,
www.lbl.gov, www.nrel.gov,
www.llnl.gov
3 National Org These are typically non- Same as 1 Same as 2
for profit national
organization of all types.

4 University University are known for Same as 1+idea Same as 2


transferring inventions competitions, + idea
and discoveries to the awards
private sectors, include
professors, researcher, &
students

5 Research Parks These are groups of Same as 1 + Open Same as 2


research companies, Innovation network
where the research park
promotes their
technologies, and ides
6 Groups of This are organization Same as 1 + conferences, scanning published
practices dedicated to aiding a meetings, networking, literature, referral,
professional group, like solicitations search and find
the national society of
professional engineers
and the National lawyers
guild
6.1 Professional Same as 1 + Conferences, conference proceedings,
trade shows, meetings,
talking to members

6.2 Consumer
6.3 Economy Looks at general region
or nations
6.4 Religious/race

6.5 Interest/hobbies Hobby and interest Same as 6.1


groups.
7 Media sources Speaking with editors Searching media

National organizations are primarily non-for-profit organizations. Every country


has a list of national organization most of which are not funded by the country.
Examples would include NSF, boy scouts, and so on. The largest problem with
organizational sources is there are so many. It is difficult to know which ones
107

may have valuable ideas relevant to one’s business. For example, auto
manufacturers want to stay tuned into national or regional auto clubs and race
car teams so they can capture new technology ideas which could reduce cost.
Direct solicitation or hosting events like idea competitions are ways to extract
ideas from national organizations
Universities have been a hot bed of new technology and ideas over the
last 20 years and have been growing greatly in their licensing efforts in recent
years (2000-2008). The researcher, professors, and students at universities are
ripe sources of novel ideas, concepts, and creativity which can be harvested by
companies. Open innovation models include universities into their networks.
Scanning research papers on a particular subject area will show which
universities are highly active in those areas. Those universities can then be
directly solicited for ideas, via contacting the faculty, department heads, or
licensing technology officers. Similarly, idea competitions can be held to gather
ideas from universities. The rules may state who is allowed to compete:
professors, researchers, or students, but in the interest of gathering the best
possible ideas and open field is best.
Research parks are a rather new development and may be associated
with a university. They play a role in incubating technologies, and companies; as
well, as aid in transferring technologies to industry. The University of Rhode
Island found, that, as of 2004, there were 150 research parks in North America
(unauthored, 2004). Again, the methods of gathering ideas are similar to that of
universities; however, the licensing and business development officers are much
better able to direct solicitors to a relevant business in their research park.
Finally, there are thousands of groups of practice, such as the national
society of professional engineers and national lawyer’s guild. They include
international, national, regional, state, and local organizations. Yahoo directories
are an excellent means to locate groups of practices, because it is organized by
type, category and region; however, it does not hold all organizations. (See
HTTP://DIR.YAHOO.COM/BUSINESS_AND_ECONOMY/ORGANIZATIONS/ ).
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Groups of practices and be organized into professional (like the lawyers


guild), consumer (like association for consumer research), economy (social
venture network), religious/races, special interest, or hobbies (like Nascar or
aircraft owners & pilots associations). These groups of practice can be valuable
points of ideas. Again because there are so many, it may require more energy to
locate and solicit relevant groups of practices. One should also note that groups
of practice outside of a company’s core business area may hold sources of new
ideas. For instance, a boater’s conferences may hold valuable ideas for home
builders looking for water proofing ideas. Unfortunately, it can be time consuming
to join and scan groups of practices to far outside ones core business area.

2.7.4.3. Suppliers as Sources of Ideas


Suppliers are great sources of ideas and they can also help integrate those
ideas to one’s business. Suppliers were loosely structured to include any
organization which supplies a company with anything from work to actual goods,
and includes current and possible suppliers, consultants, idea consultants, and
research firms. Robert tucker states: “If you ask a supplier if they have any ideas
or new technologies they usually provide none, whereas, if you bring a problem
or opportunity to them and ask them to help solve it they are delighted and
provide many ideas” (Tucker, 2003, p. 2).
109

Table 2.15. Supplier Sources

In-direct
ways to
Direct way to generate
Source Description get ideas ideas References
Supplier Sources
1 Current suppliers The current suppliers to Solicitation, problem Scan for news from
a company could provide statement, direct suppliers, locate
ideas contact, part of contract best practice
requirements, suppliers, Open
innovation
networks

Ref 27, 54,


2 Possible suppliers These are possible Solicitation, direct same as 1
supplier which may be contact, part of bid
activity or in-activity requirements,
biding for business
3 Consultants Consultants of all types contracting with solicitation, open
may provide ideas. consultants, innovation
solicitations, direct networks
contact, Ref 18*, 30
4 Idea consultants Using companies like requirements for solicitation, open
IDEO, design firms, contract innovation
networks Ref Tom Kelly,
5 Research firms Marketing, consumer, same as 1 solicitation, open
industry, and economic innovation
research firms can be networks
sources of ideas
Ref 59
6 Partners / Alliances Partners and Alliances Contractional solicitation, open
which supply resources, agreements, + same as innovation
knowledge, capabilities 1 networks

Amazingly, research firms were never mentioned as sources of ideas


before. Firms like Forester research which identifies trends in the market place
have an excellent sense of the opportunities which exist and often state such in
their publications. Also they can be contacted directly for ideas. Partners and
alliances were put under supplier sources because they supply resources,
knowledge, and capabilities to a company.
110

2.7.4.4. Competition as Sources of Ideas


Competitors could be great sources of ideas, as NPD handbook showed
many businesses are fast follower of the best in class competitor. Best in class
competitors are often cited in popular media as pioneering a new process,
releasing new products, and so forth. Ignoring best in class competitors can be a
large mistake because they are often rich sources of ideas.
Direct competitors are all the companies in direct competition to ones
business, which may include best in class competitors. While, indirect
competitors are companies which are in a similar business and are servicing
customers outside of markets which your business is concerned with. For
example, a car dealer in Indianapolis selling Jeeps is in indirect competition with
a car dealer selling Jaguars in the same area. Whereas a friendly competitor
may be a Jeep dealership in Denver Colorado who is willing to share helpful tips
and ideas.

Table 2.16. Competitor sources

Direct way to get In-direct ways to


Source Description ideas generate ideas References

Sources from competitors


1 Best in class competitors Best in class competitor are Direct communications with Market research firms, best in
often looked toward for competitors, competitative class practice reports, GAP
sources of new ideas intellegence, direct observation analysis of competitors, SWOT
analysis of competitors,
competitive mapping, porters
analysis, market research

REF 3, 18
2 Direct competitors Direct competitors to the Same as 1 Same as 1
business REF 3, 18
3 Indirect competitors Competitors in market Friendly communication, + same as Same as 1
outside of the companies 1
given competivite area,
4 Friendly competitors Friendly competitor that are Direct solicitaion, Friendly Same as 1
not in real competition with communication, + same as 1
one's company
5 Substitute sources As Porter defines markets Same as 1 + industry trends reports Same as 1
that could be substitutes to
ones market
6 New potential entrance As Porter defines markets Same as 1 + industry trends reports Same as 1
sources that could be threats to enter
ones market
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Substitutes are, as Michael Porter defines it, products and services which
can be substituted for ones which your company is selling. For instance, cereal
companies look at substitutes like breakfast bars, fast food restaurants, and
others cereal substitutes for changes and new ideas.
Finally, potential new entrances are companies treating to enter the
industry. For example, the core US airline market close observed the launch of
JetBlue and closely examined all of JetBlue new innovative like in seat TV
systems.

2.7.4.5. Other Companies as Sources of Ideas


Unfortunately the category of direct competitors and non-for-profit organization,
do not account for the millions of for-profit companies which exist that can be
used as potential sources of ideas. Most notably, media sources are great
sources of ideas.
Media sources include publications like: journals, magazines, patents,
article databases, books, articles, and new publication; as well as, media like
radio programs, television shows, and movies.

Table 2.17. Sources of Ideas From Other Companies

Direct way to get In-direct ways to Referen


Source Description ideas generate ideas ces

Sources from other companies


1 Other companies All other companies around the All All
world

7 Media sources Books, magazines, articles, patents, Speak with editors, Searching media
newspaper,
3 Inventors Indepent inventors direct solicitation, scanning new invention disclosure

Keep in mind the original author is the source of the idea and the
publishers, being the media companies, are the means of distribution. If one
considers the publishers a group of individuals then they would be a formal
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source of ideas, even though they are re-distributors. For instance, a magazine
like Harvard business review are great source of ideas for improving
management even though the new source of the idea may be Michael Porter.
Media sources may be great sources of ideas which should not be
neglected. Formal scanning mechanism for new ideas should include relevant
media sources because of their targeted nature and breadth of coverage.
Independent inventors are also valuable sources of ideas however they
are difficult to locate, contact, and solicit. Nonetheless, having one or two highly
talented inventors which can be called upon for idea can be of great value.

2.7.5. Issues with External Sources of Ideas


Of course there are many issues with obtaining ideas from outsides sources.
Some companies believe receiving outside ideas may jeopardize internal
development efforts. For example, this researcher contacted Arm-hammer to
submit an idea but was sadly informed they will not listen to outside ideas.
There are hundreds of issues in setting up and receiving ideas from
external sources. One should consider the benefits and downsides carefully. If
possible the downsides should be reduced or eliminated via creative problem
solving, because there are greater benefits than risk in sourcing external ideas.
Also, one should remember their own company may be afflicted with the not-
invented-here syndrome, which may severely limit their ability to innovate.

2.7.6. Which Source of Ideas is the Best?


Given the detailed review of the sources of ideas, one might ask: “which sources
of ideas are the best?” The answer is: “it depends.” It would be ludicrous to state
one group is the best sources of ideas. There are too many factors affecting the
production of ideas from a single source to make any kind of reasonable
conclusions across sources. For example, things like: culture, management,
leadership, and incentives vary greatly between even similar sources of ideas.
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Additionally, the typical sources of high quality ideas in one industry may be
different than another industry. So given those variations and the large number of
affecting factors, concluding one source is the best source of ideas is absurd.
The question should instead be: “what sources can this company turn into
great sources of ideas?” This would suggest things can be done to improve the
quality of ideas coming from internal and external sources. The following sections
will dive into and explore the feasibility of this suggestion.

2.7.7. Major Issue with Idea Generation (Lack of Control Models)


Unfortunately, even after this detailed review of idea generation and its
respective literature; no models were uncovered which could be used to manage
the whole idea generation process. This represents a massive gap in the
literature. Further, a conceptual understanding of how to manage the idea
generation process has not been developed in the literature. This constitutes a
severe limitation in the literature which must be rectified.

2.7.8. Summary of Section 2.7


To summarize, a detailed series of tables respectively showing idea generation
techniques, idea generation activities, and idea generation processes were
created to fill the gap in the literature. Following this discussion, the top idea
generation processes were described and critiqued.
The next section described how companies may react differently to
outside ideas based on their innovation category and level of concept
development. This was followed by a detailed series of tables showing the
sources of ideas, which was offered to fill a gap in the literature.
Finally, this section concludes with the question “what can be done to
improve the quality of the ideas generated?” This question will be addressed in
the Chapter 3.
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2.8. Literature Review of Idea Management and Idea Banks

2.8.1. Introduction to Section


The following section will review idea management and idea banks with the goal
of fleshing out the knowledge required to manage the fuzzy front end of
innovation.
The following section begins by explaining what idea management and
idea banks are and then go into why they are so important and valuable. Then
this section will move into a detailed review of several key articles on this topic.
Finally the section ends by stating several problems and issues with the
knowledge in this area.

2.8.2. What is Idea Management and What are Idea Banks?


Unlike the Fuzzy front end, there are very few definitions for idea management.
Drawing from other papers on idea management, this thesis defines idea
management as the process of capturing, storing, and organizing ideas can
be used in other processes, like the late FFE processes (Flynn, Dooley, &
O’Sullivan, 2003; Belliveau, Griffin, & Somermeyer, 2002; Montoya-Weiss &
O’Driscoll, 2006; Gorski, &Heinekamp, 2002; Bakker, Boersma, & Oreel, 2006;
Heck, 2005; Fritz, 2002; Dijk, & van de Ende, 2002; Koen et al., 2001). Also idea
management can be used to perform preliminary evaluations and screening
of ideas as well as diffuse ideas across the company
In contradiction to this definition, Vandenbosh, Saatcioglu, and Fay (2006)
proposed that the “concept of idea management is defined as the process of
recognizing the needs for idea and generation and evaluating them”
(Vandenbosh, Saatcioglu, and Fay, 2006, p. 32). This thesis finds this definition
limited, because it severely overlaps with the management of idea generation
process and more importantly contradicts other references on idea management.
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Idea banks can be defined as a tool for facilitating the capture, storage,
and organization of ideas (Moskowitz, 1997; Zien, & Buckler, 1997; Gorski, &
Heinekamp, 2002; Bakker, Boersma, & Oreel, 2006; Heck, 2005; Fritz, 2002;
Dijk, & van de Ende, 2002; Koen et al. 2001).
Also suggestion systems or suggestion programs can be defined a
process or system for capturing, storing, and organizing ideas
(Backman, Borjesson, & Setterberg, 2007; Flynn, Dooley, & O’Sullivan, 2003;
Gorski, & Heinekamp, 2002**; Fritz, 2002; Gamlin, Yourd, & Patrick, 2007;
Lamont, 2004; Dijk, & van de Ende, 2002; Stasch, Lonsdale, & LaVenka, 1992).

2.8.3. Need for Idea Management and Idea Banks


The literature discusses a clear need for idea management. Flynn et al. (2003)
describes the need for idea management in their quote: “However the process by
which organizations generate these ideas is one which has received significantly
less attention and been allowed to develop in an “ad-hoc” fashion” [thus] it is
logical to maximize the output of the idea creation phase” (Flynn et al., 2003, p.
3). Since there are more ideas accessible in idea banks the “increased
competition between ideas will ultimately improve the quality of potential
innovations being presented to the process” (p. 3).
Gorski & Heinekamp (2002) state that “collecting and evaluating ideas is
downplayed because managers believe they have ample ideas” (Gorski &
Heinekamp, 2002, p. 74). This may lead into the need to extract and capture
ideas as stated by Dijk & Van de Ende (2002), “apparently, there is a large
dormant reservoir of useful ideas in many companies, but communicating these
ideas is not simply a matter of offering large bonuses” (p. 62). According to Dijk &
Van de Ende (2002), “research showed that in Swedish industry of 1970 that
60% employees that had good ideas didn’t communicate them” (Dijk & Van de
Ende, 2002, p. 11). Price Waterhouse, Ernst & Young, “advocated that
companies adopt processes to collect and preserve their internal ideas” (Fritz et
al., 2002, p. 36). This may be because many ideas are lost or dropped from
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internal sources (Flynn, Dooley, & O’Sullivan, 2003) or because “firms overlook
other employees as a source of creative ideas” (Gorski, & Heinekamp, 2002, p.
58). An analysis of this information suggests that the value of idea
management and idea banks in the innovation process involves:

1. Capturing and storing ideas from internal and external sources


2. Utilizing the ideas by sending them to appropriates people and processes
3. Locking in intellectual property rights.

The first category of capturing and storing ideas is important because, it


seeks to take advantage of ideas created inside and outside the company which
otherwise might be lost or poorly utilized. Second, it is important because it is a
formal method of capturing and keeping ideas from formal idea generation
processes and activities. Third, it increases the idea options available to the
company. Finally, and most importantly, it better utilizes the creative capacities of
employees inside the company to produce ideas and locate opportunities.
The second category helps to better capitalize on ideas for present and
future use. Additionally, ideas can also be used as a stimulus for other idea
generation activities or aid in locating and identifying other opportunities.
The third category concerns locking in intellectual property rights which
facilitates processes related to obtaining patents, copyrights, trademarks, and
trade secrets. Capturing ideas from sources (like employees) which may no
longer be accessible (maybe because they left the company) is a benefit which
falls under this category (Gorski, & Heinekamp, 2002).

2.8.4. Terminology for Idea Banks


There are several terms which have been interchanged with the phrase “idea
banks”, including: idea pools (Tucker, 2003), idea war chest (Montoya-Weiss &
O’Driscoll, 2006), idea refrigerator (Zien & Buckler, 1997), and idea archives
(Bakker, Boersma, & Oreel, 2006). Each metaphor makes one imagine the
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concept of an idea bank in a different way. Idea pools may make one imagine
ideas as a stream of water which can be kept, depleted, and refilled. Idea banks
call to mind ideas as being safe and secure, while idea war chests recollect
valuable ideas which can give a competitive advantage.
However, one must also remember metaphors limit the way a concept can
be viewed. For example, an idea archive may make one feel that ideas are in a
solid and manageable form which can always be organized and cataloged, when
in fact many ideas are intangible and often only exist in people’s minds. Thus,
one must always remember the terminology we use also limit our understanding
of a concept.
In reviewing these terms, this researcher noticed all of these terms viewed
ideas as solid forms which can be managed. But, in reality ideas often exist only
in people’s minds and sometimes are only revealed through spontaneous
conversations. In order to capture the sometimes intangible nature of ideas, this
thesis proposes the term “idea cloud” to account for the larger group of ideas
which may be stored in people’s minds. The term “idea cloud” denotes a thing
with light boundaries which cannot be easily mapped and may exist anywhere.
The term “idea cloud” will be used in the next section of this chapter to clarify
idea banks.

2.8.5. A Review of the Literature on Idea Management and Idea Banks


The following section will review key articles on this topic area

2.8.5.1. Review of Chapter 9 of PDMA


Chapter 9 of PDMA ToolBook for New Product Development, written by Gorski
and Heinekamp (2002), provides an excellent overview of idea banks and idea
management. The goal of an employee suggestion program is to pull from the
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unique knowledge of the workforce in order to identify new product opportunities


and process improvements. The authors discuss the history of suggestion
programs. Here, they say, idea suggestion programs trace their roots to the total
quality movement of the late 1980s’ but similar programs have existed for
hundreds of years. Interestingly, the first suggestion boxes, they claim, were
implemented in the 1880s by a shipbuilder and in 1895 by NCR, and consisted of
standardized forms which were filled out and placed into suggestion boxes. After
a couple days the forms were removed then the ideas were recorded in a master
log.
The authors state that “employee suggestion box systems remain in use
today, many still in their original format” (Gorski & Heinekamp, 2002, p. 83).
Beneficially, the authors provide a table of the strengths and weaknesses of the
suggestion box system, where the most notable weakness is its slow,
cumbersome nature, loss of ideas, and horrible participation rates.
The authors then move on to the “Kaizen” idea program, which also
captured ideas for improving operations and greatly outperformed suggestion
box systems by resulting in participation rates of up to 75% unlike the 10-20%
participation rates of a typical American suggestion box program. The greatest
weakness is its focus on incremental changes.
Next, the authors discussed employee-driven idea systems (EDIS) which
are a variation of the Kaizen idea program, where the idea submitter became
responsible for driving the idea from concept to implementation. EDIS systems
were mentioned to have higher participation rates, quoted to be around 60%. The
largest weakness of EDIS is their focus on incremental change and the ability of
the submitter to implement the ideas.
Lastly, they discussed the web-based idea collaboration systems which
use a software program or internet website to capture ideas. They also
mentioned that web-based idea banks greatly reduced the energy required to
submit, collect, manage, and diffuse ideas. They mentioned several weaknesses,
including: there can be large amounts of ideas submitted which could easily
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overwhelm the managers, and ideas may be stolen since they are viewable by
anyone in the company; and submitters may not get feedback on their ideas and
be left feeling frustrated.
Next, the authors provided an example of how a web-based idea system
was put in place at Bank One. From this they derived a step-wise list for
implementing an idea system. Here they state the steps are:
1) reviewing current methods for idea capture,
2) gaining management support for the new system,
3) defining the new product idea program,
4) defining the scope of ideas to be captured and audience members which
may participate,
5) establishing idea ownership,
6) choosing the form of the system,
7) implementing and evaluating the system,
8) establishing measurements and goals,
9) defining awards to push participation,
10) training employees to use the system, and
11) setting up ongoing administration and maintenance.

Again the value in their chapter is the review of the idea capture systems, and
the step-wise-process for implementing an idea capture system. However, one
major issue with this paper is they only consider ideas from internal sources as
coming from employees.

2.8.5.2. Review of Vandenbosh, Saatcioglu, & Fay


The article entitled “Idea management: A systemic view” by Vandenbosh,
Saatcioglu, and Fay is interesting because it looks at the influence which
personality types have on idea management and idea generation. In this article
they defined idea management as the process of recognizing the need for ideas,
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generating, and evaluating them. They then observed personality affects idea
management, and then proposed five types of personality categories.
1) Incrementalist take small steps, ideas are usually modest changes
2) Consensus builders focus on harmony among stakeholder rather than
ideas
3) Searchers combined info from diverse places,
4) Debaters argues to develop ideas
5) Assessor seem to be infinitely objective and flexible

Most of the individuals they interviewed in their small sample fell into the
incrementalist category. Consequently, this article gives an interesting view into
how personality can affect idea management.

2.8.5.3. Review of Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll Article


Moving back toward software programs for idea bank and idea management,
Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll (2006) article “From Experience: Applying
Performance Support Technology in the Fuzzy Front End” shows an interesting
application of idea banks and idea management at Nortel communications
company (Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll, 2006, p. 73).
The case study of Nortel revealed they would only create ideas upon
customer request and thus were totally failing to use their employee bases as a
source of ideas. From this obvious need Nortel developed a software solution to
capturing ideas from internal sources and named it “Galileo”. Their article also
highlights FFE evaluation, and screening is often done at a “gut-level” instead of
by a standard objective set of criteria. Their solution to this issue was to have the
idea capture software integrate preliminary screening and evaluation of ideas into
the submission processes.
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Figure 2.29. Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll’s Idea Generation Process

Figure 2.29 shows this researcher’s depiction of the process where ideas
are captured in mass, then qualified by having them pre-screened “in a
consistent manner at a very high level” (p.27). The objective of the first phase is
to: (1) standardize screening, (2) validate ideas in their primary area of market
readiness and technical feasibility, and (3) capture IP.
Again, the software program guides users submitting ideas through these
self-screening, and self-analysis activities. This researcher considers this method
of capturing then self-screening and self-analysis valuable because, it gives the
additional information need to categorize, analyze, and select ideas for later FFE
processes.
Next, the concept development phase is designed to “assist idea
generators in ‘growing’ their embryonic idea into robust, fully developed
concepts” (Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll, 2006, p.18). Here the software program
provides a set of deep probing questions which must be answered in areas
ranging from benefit, all the way to, alignment with the business strategy. By
answering these questions the idea owner develops the idea into a concept.
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The following concept rating phase is to provide a common framework


within all NPD ideas can be quantitatively rated where ideas are quantitatively
and qualitatively rated in the areas of marketing, technology, human factors, and
business.
The decision maker who evaluates the submitted ideas can then use
the results of the concept rating phase to select ideas to be assessed and
developed in FFE activities. This phase called “concept assessment” performs
this task and goal is to “reduce the subjectivity and lack of information that is
typically associated with idea evaluation and selection decisions” (Montoya-
Weiss & O’Driscoll, 2006, p. 53). In this phase the decision maker is taken
through a standardized idea evaluation process.
The strength of the software based approach to idea management and
idea capture is they integrate evaluation and screening into the idea capture
process. However, this approach is also seems to have many downsides.
First, the system can be easily “gamed” by individuals who want their
ideas pushed to the top. Hence, individuals can over estimate the potential of the
ideas in each phase resulting in ideas which look juicer than they actually are!
In addition, it is hypothesized that self-rating of ideas can result in a
preliminary analysis which is totally off from the actual potential of the idea.
Predicting the potential of ideas is very difficult task, and many activities of the
late FFE are dedicated to this. Hence, it is hard to imagine that the large amount
of uncertainty associated with a rough concept will allow ideas on average to be
rated with any meaningful level of accuracy.
Additionally, the nature of the system seems to limit creativity by going
straight into analysis rather than allowing individuals to collaborate and mold a
particular concept with other concepts resulting in a superior idea.
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Finally, the biggest issue is the reliance on software to help manage the
FFE. This researcher strongly believes that relying on a software tools to manage
the FFE process is a vital error since an in-depth understands of the FFE must
be developed first. In other words, management’s understanding of the FFE
should drive the use of particular tools, not the converse, where the tools drive
management’s activities.

2.8.5.4. Other Articles Discussing Idea Management


Flynn, Dooley, O’Sullivan, and Cormican’s (2003) article on idea management
discuss innovation, creativity, idea generation, and idea creation software.
Interestingly, the idea generation software they propose enables cross-functional
teams to brainstorm over intranet connections and capture ideas. Another
interesting benefit of this program is that ideas can be traced back to their
sources so those individuals can be rewarded. However, it is questionable how
effective brainstorming in virtual teams can be. This researcher prefers the
collaborative and high energy nature of face-to-face brainstorming sessions.
Van Dijk and Van den End described in detail suggestion systems at
Xerox, KPN telecommunications, and Shell Oil Company (Dijk & Van de Ende,
2002). They also noted a huge difference in participation rates where employees
in Japanese companies’ participation are five to ten times that of American
companies. Notably, they highlighted the following areas with respect to
suggestion systems: encouragement to participate; creativity; accessibility;
organizational support; committed resources; and idea feedback.
Bakker, Boersma, & Oreel (2006) discussed an “idea capturing” software
called “Eureka” which is used to capture, review, evaluate, and select ideas. In
their models of creativity management, they emphasize the links between
creating ideas, selling ideas, and funding of ideas. They also showed at what
stage an idea should be placed in the idea archive. Additionally, they depicted
the idea archive as a trash can which keeps potential intellectual property in
storage as shown by Figure 2.30.
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Figure 2.30. Bakker, Boersma, & Oreel Idea Storage Processes

Interestingly, they speculated that having a backup of rejected ideas can


help one avoid wasting energy in re-screening and re-evaluating rejected ideas.
They stated that “electronic idea management systems that are used in the crea-
political phase have both an enabling and a constraining effect upon the success
of an idea” (Bakker, Boersma, & Oreel, 2006, p. 57). Bakker et al asserted that
“the management must be aware of the fact that an electronic idea management
system is not a neutral element in the process of creativity management, but one
which produces an effect within a context in which creative ideas must be
transformed into practicable idea” (Bakker, Boersma, & Oreel, 2006, p.3). To
avoid one such unintended consequences, employees should remember idea
capture systems will not do the hard-work of developing and selling the idea for
them (Bakker, Boersma, & Oreel, 2006, p.53).
Other research on creativity and idea capture systems should note Lu’s
(1992) thesis which proposed a very early version of a collaborative
brainstorming software used over an internet connection. Since then, a wide
array of collaborative and idea capture software protocols have been proposed
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including: Akiva, BrightIdea, Imaginatik, Kerika,Qmarket, Innovator


express, Accept Innovation Management, Employee Suggestion Box ,
NextNet, Incubator , Hype.de, and so on.
Gamlin, Yourd, & Patrick (2007) referred to Cooper’s quote, “Idea
generation is everyone's job and no one's responsibility," when they described
how “no one individual in a company or business unit is specifically in charge of
idea generation, and often, when new ideas surface, no action is taken” (p. 30).
These authors then discussed an idea capture software with unique features
allowing for online collaboration and the ability for one to connect to experts in
particular areas.
Lamont’s (2004) article, “Idea management, Everyone’s an Innovator”
again discusses idea capture and management software, but emphasizes idea
champions being assigned to particular ideas to get them through the process.
She also views idea management as a component of knowledge management.
In addition to these articles, there are several dozen short magazine and news
articles on idea management and idea capture software, all promoting software
based solutions. Again, there may be some harm in relying solely on these items.
So in reviewing the literature on idea management and idea banks it is
evident that, the bulk of the literature focuses on software and web programs
which store, manage, and screen ideas. Only a few articles, as mention look at
management practices in any useful detail. As well, only a few papers describe
process models for idea management and idea banks (Montoya-Weiss &
O’Driscoll, 2006; Chang, Chen, & Wey, 2007).
Interestingly, idea banks and idea management integrate activities from
the early and late front end of innovation, where these activities are idea
generation, screening, collaboration, and development of ideas into the concept.
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2.8.6. Problems and Issues with Idea Management and Idea Banks
This research has identified many problems and issues with the current literature
on idea banks and idea management which is preventing it from being utilized to
its fullest potential. Hence, the remainder of this section will describe these major
problems.
First, the idea management and idea banks do not link to idea generation.
Only one article (by Flynn and his co-authors) states that idea management
should include and link to idea generation. All of the other literature assumes
ideas are captured by employees willingly submitting their ideas into idea banks,
but no articles discuss submitting ideas as part of a pre-designated idea
generation process.
Second, many articles on idea management and idea banks discuss
analyzing and screening ideas so they can be better used in late FFE processes.
However no articles suggest providing feedback of the assessed ideas to aid in
controlling and managing the idea generation process.
Third, no articles on idea management look at the idea banks as an early
means of portfolio management which can be used to tune and select the idea
generation processes needed to fill the product portfolio. Hence, the literature on
idea management totally fails to link usefully to idea generation processes.
Fourth, as mentioned there is no link between idea management and idea
banks and portfolio management.
Fifth, there is no research or survey data indicating the usage of idea
banks or idea management amongst companies. This represents a major gap in
the literature.
Lastly, and most importantly, there are no theoretical models showing
points of control for idea management and idea banks which can be used in the
management of early front end processes.
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2.8.7. Summary of Section


To summarize, this section examined what idea management and idea banks are
and the importance and value they provide for the front end of innovation. The
state of the literature was reviewed, and several key articles on idea
management and idea banks were reviewed in more detail. Finally, many
problems with the literature and knowledge in idea management and idea banks
were discussed. The following chapter will try to address these problems plus
illuminate new theories which can be used to manage idea banks.
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CHAPTER 3. DEVELOPMENT OF CONTROL MODELS

This chapter addresses the first research question: “From a review of the
literature, can a control model be developed to aid in the conceptual
understanding and management of idea generation and Idea management?”
To meet this goal, this chapter begins with a review of management
control models, and then select the most appropriate control theory for
development of this researcher’s control model. Next, the major points of control
for idea generation are examined and decided upon. Finally, the major points of
control for idea management are examined and decided upon. The combined
control model is illustrated in Figure 3.16. It is strongly believed that the proposed
model called the Glassman Model © will facilitate the conceptual understanding
and management of the idea generation model.
Chapter 4 proposes a research methodology to answer the second
research question: “Can the proposed idea management control model be
supported as capturing the required factors needed to manage and control idea
generation and idea management?”

3.1. Review and Selection of a Control Theory


There are several control theory models which can be applied to create a control
model for idea generation and idea management. One of the most famous is the
cybernetics-based theory of control. Kirsch (1997) defines cybernetics as, “the
process of comparing actual performance with planned performance, analyzing
variance, evaluating possible alternatives, and taking appropriate corrective
actions as needed” (p. 2). Cybernetics is a very common approach to control
where feedback on outcomes is used to determine gaps and necessary
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corrective actions. However, cybernetics has been criticized because it ignores


behaviors, corporate culture, the environment, and self regulation (Jaworski,
1988).
Other models of control are: outcome-based control, behavioral based
control models, clan models, self-control models, feedback control models, and
control process, along with others. The outcome-based control model “allows
employees to decide their method of achieving the given goal” (Schwepker,
Good 2005, p. 3). The general sentiment among innovation practitioners is that
outcome-based control of idea generation is very ineffective and inefficient at
generating needed ideas. Further, Steven & Burley’s (1997) idea curve has
shown the dismal conversion rate of ideas to selected concepts at a 3000 to 1
ratio. More importantly, if the outcome-based control model worked for idea
generation, there would be no need to answer the proposed research questions
for this dissertation, because companies would already be good at generating
ideas to meet their respective needs.
Behaviora-based control models seek to control behavior by articulating
rewards and punishments for behaviors (Kirsch, 1997). Unfortunately, this model
of control cannot be used for idea generation because it assumes that prior
knowledge of effective and appropriate behavior exists. The literature on idea
generation does not highlight effective behaviors. If anything, the literature shows
anecdotal unsupported behaviors which supposedly stop or obstruct ideas from
being generated (Foster, 1996). Thus, behavior-based control models cannot be
used herein, for the main reason that there are no known or proven behaviors to
base them on.
Clan control models use the company’s culture, values, beliefs, and
philosophy’s as a means of control (Kirsch, 1997). Research on the culture of
innovative companies has shown a tremendous amount of variance among them,
further no studies have been conducted across several companies to show which
cultural attributes promote control of idea generation. Consequently, clan control
models should not be used because (a) company culture takes a long time to
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establish, (b) are not feasible as implementing as a method of control, and (c) no
supported knowledge of cultural control for idea generation exists.
Feedback control models are common in marketing control and again fall
under the cybernetics paradigm. Tadepalli (1991) says feedback control models
are, a “reactive approach to control in which managers wall for problems and
take corrective action. In terms of marketing control, the feedback method forms
the basis for the control process” (Tadepalli, 1991, p.26).
Control process models are also based on the cybernetic paradigm.
Tadepalli (1991) states that control process involves “the following steps: set
goals and performance measures, measure achievement, compare achievement
with goals, compare variance between achievement and goals, report variances,
determine cause(s) of variance, take action[s] to eliminate variance, and follow-
up to ensure that goals are met” (Tadepalli, 1991, p.26). Control process models
provide an excellent base for idea generation because it can be viewed as a
process which can be controlled. In idea generation, the outcome (i.e., ideas) can
be measured and variance from the set goal of ideas can be found and corrective
action can be taken.
Jaworksi (1988) terms control points as being input control or process
control, where input controls are “common input control include selection, criteria,
recruitment and training programs, manpower allotments, strategic, plans, and
forms of resource allocation” (Jaworski, 1988, p. 5). In addition, process controls
are “exercised when the firm attempts to influence the means to achieve desired
ends. It differs from output control in that the focus is on behavior and/or
activities, rather than the end result” (Jaworksi, 1988, p. 5). Integrating this into
an illustration, one would see the figure below.
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Figure 3.1. Process Control Model

Jaworksi (1988) further describes formal and informal means of control


where formal are selected knowingly and stated explicitly. He further identified
four main criteria to distinguish formal and informal control where formal control
is (1) documentation by management, (2) implicit assumption of conformance, (3)
initiated by management, and (4) management is responsible for maintaining the
formal system, where informal control is the opposite of those four criteria.
So the final selected control model will be a linear process control model
using formal input and process control only, this model is shown below. Again,
the process control model has been shown in field of management, operation,
marketing, electronic and so on, to be an effective means to controlling a
process producing a few very specific measurable output, like reports, quality of
manufactured goods, goods per hour, and so on.

Feedback to
Management of Process
tune controls
Inputs Process
Controls Control

Outputs
Idea Generation
Processes

Difference between
Outputs and desired results = Gap

Figure 3.2. Process Control Model with formal input and process controls
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Further, it is believed there are several benefits in selecting this simplistic


process control model. First, because of its simplicity practitioners will be able to
readily grasp the process and major point of influence. Second, because it will be
linear it over comes the inherent confusion in circular loop control model as
stated by Morse’s (2005) article “Crap circles.” Finally, it will be easier for
practitioners to identify weaknesses in their own methods of control and work to
strength them.

3.2. Development of a Control Model for Idea Generation

3.2.1. Continuous Idea Generation vs. Event Based Idea Generation


It is hypothesized that, many businesses continuously come up with a stream of
idea while others may generate ideas in spurts say as a response to a strong
need for more ideas. There is evidence to suggest that some companies, like 3M
and Google, continuously create streams of new ideas. There is also evidence of
companies which generate ideas in groups in a non-continuous manner. Figure
3.3 show the top source for creating ideas in a continuous stream while the
bottom source is creating it in groups at given points in time

Continuous
Source
idea generation
Group Group
of ideas of ideas

Event driven
Source
idea generation

Time
11-2007 12-2007 1-2008 2-2008

Figure 3.3. Continuous Idea Generation vs. Event Driven Idea Generation
Displayed on a Timeline
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3.2.2. Supporting Evidence for Ideation Events


Tucker discussed Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) which runs idea campaigns
where it is “sort of a call for idea to all corners” of the business. These campaigns
were publicized and generated 4,000 inquiries from 429 of BMS’s employees all
over the world. BMS holds 20 to 30 of these campaigns per year (Tucker, 2003).
Gamlin, Yourd, & Partick (2007) asserted an event-based approach to
generating ideas, where “focused events” are conducted to capture idea around
a specific problem. They mentioned a properly run event is publicized, and that
Bayer Material Science has held 36 events (as of 2007). One example was
Bayer’s ‘back to school’ event in which 240 ideas were generated, resulting in 14
viable ideas. Koen (2005) also mentioned similar events for web-enabled idea
generation.
Stach, Lonsdale, & La Venka (1992) discussed Pillsbury’s company,
which for decades has held a bake-off event in which customers enter ideas to
win rewards and social notoriety. Interestingly, they described five types of
company situations which encourage the search for ideas. Schepers et al. (1999)
also described idea competitions at Siemens. These examples support the
contention that some companies create ideas in batches as a result of some
event which they hold or conduct.
This research uses the phrase “idea generation event” to properly
describe any event, campaign, contest, or incident, which results in the formal or
informal generation of ideas. For example, Pillsbury’s bake-off is a formal event
lasting over a month which triggers the generation of ideas, while an informal
event may be a competitor releasing higher than expected earnings, spurring
employees to strike back by generating new product ideas.
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Figure 3.4. Idea Generation Triggered by Formal Events

Figure 3.4 illustrates an event resulting in the generation of ideas. Idea


generation events like competitions and campaigns may have a formal deadline
after which ideas will not be received (depicted in Figure 3.4 by the dotted line).
Furthermore, some events may be under the control of the company while others
may not be. This begs the question: “can idea generation events be controlled in
order to aid in the production of quality ideas?”
Tucker (2003) wrote that “if you ask a supplier if they have any ideas or
new technologies they usually provide none, whereas, if you bring a problem or
opportunity to them and ask them to help solve it they are delighted and provide
many ideas” (Tucker, 2003, p. 34). This suggests that the methods used in
conducting the event, and the way it is organized and managed may have a large
impact on the resulting ideas. This can be backed by the participation rates and
quality of ideas created during a college based business plan competition.
Thus, this researcher hypothesized that the following four factor
categories can be used to control the idea resulting from an idea generation
event
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a) Incentives – social, monetary, tangible,


b) Promotion – to which sources and the amount it is promoted
c) Event timing
d) Execution – The way the event is conducted, formatted, and
managed.
Logically, one can deduce that incentives directly affect the outputted
ideas and effectiveness of the overall event. In cases of external idea generation,
incentives may be more important than internal. Some companies like 3M use
social recognition as a major incentive for submitting ideas, while others use
monetary compensation (Alam, 2003; Flynn, Dooley, & O’Sullivan, 2003).
As in advertising, the promotions of the event directly affect the number of
internal or external sources which are aware of it, and way it is promoted affect
the motivation of those sources to partake in those events. Given that
promotional budgets are always limited, a company should choose wisely which
sources it should promote to and the levels of awareness they hope to achieve.
Timing is an important factor - announcing an event during the busiest
time of year may result in very few participants submitting ideas. Conducting an
event during slack time or immediately after conferences may be wise because
employees may be seeded with ideas from the recent conference and have the
time to develop them. Finally, the way the event is executed (i.e., how it is
conducted, formatted, and managed) always will be of great importance in
generating ideas. Making the event not attractive enough or being unclear about
the events purpose could all negatively affect the outcome of the event.

3.2.3. Controlling External and Internal Events


Some events may occur due to outside stimulus like a new competitor entering a
market, a change in economy and so on. These types of events are considered
uncontrollable events. Figure 3.4 below shows the idea generation event
preceding idea generation activities. This figure shows the differences in the
points of control between a controlled events and un-controllable events.
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It is hypothesized that external uncontrollable events impact on idea


generation and can be controlled by: a) the cultural response of the company,
b) the processes response of the company, and by c) the awareness of the
employees to external events.
The cultures of companies like Microsoft are highly sensitive to certain
types of events like new competitors. Thus, executives at Microsoft may
intentionally promote and spread news of a competitor’s new entrance into their
market to elicit a cultural response resulting in the generation of new ideas from
their company.

Figure 3.5. Controlling Both Internally Idea Events an External Idea Events

Similarly, formal processes like competitive intelligence or market


research can automatically trigger a company to respond to an un-controlled
external event by generating ideas. So for example, a company like Corning may
automatically generate ideas for new plastics if the standard price for one of their
top level plastics drops to a commodity price level.
137

Uncontrollable events can also occur inside a company. For example,


poor financial returns or missed quarterly earnings may prompt employees in a
company to respond by generating new ideas. Any event, either internal or
external, which stimulates idea generation is valuable.

Event-less
Idea creation
No major event triggered this idea

Idea Generation processes Output


Source (Early Front End) Ideas

Event Influenced
Idea creation
Event influenced

Idea Generation processes Output


Source (Early Front End) Ideas

Event driven Idea Creation


(also call strategic driven innovation)
We were going to go bankrupt so the
company initiated a idea generation event

Ideation Idea Generation processes Output


Source Event (Early Front End) Ideas

Figure 3.6. Ideation Events Influence on Idea Generation

Idea generation events can also be formal and informal. Formally


controlled internal events may be uses effectively to fill gaps in the product
portfolio or generate ideas for other needs. But a company responding to
uncontrollable informal events (like a competitor entering the market) by
generating ideas could be very valuable because it is a natural competitive
response by the company.
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It was hypothesized that events can have different levels of impact on the
idea generation process. The figure 3.6 above shows how idea generation: a)
can occur without the influence of any major event, or b) can be influenced
by an event, or b) can be directly triggered by an event.
There is supporting evidence for event-less idea creation and event driven
idea creation (Tucker, 2003; Gamlin, Yourd, & Patrick, 2007; Stasch, Lonsdale, &
LaVenka, 1992; McAdam & McClelland, 2002). However, this research did not
find much support in the literature for event-influenced idea generation. It can
easily be surmised that events can influence idea generation. Take the following
hypothetical instance. A company notices a competitor entering the market with a
slightly better technology, this externals events weight heavily on R&D individual
minds and influences them as the generate ideas for their next line of products.
While by contrast, in an event-driven scenario the company formally requests
new product ideas to help beat the new competition in exchange for monetary
rewards.
It is unclear whether one has more control over external or internal events.
The amount of control for each event very much depends upon the situation. So
for example, an executive may have more control in their own company because
of their position or influence, while in another case, a similar executive may have
more control over external idea competition because he is paying a supplier to
host, advertise, and conduct it.

3.2.4. Controlling the Source


Another way to affect the output of the idea generation process is to control the
source of ideas - people. A review of the literature on creativity showed there are
several factors which can affect the creativity of an individual. Drawing from the
research, This researcher hypothesized that idea generation could be most
greatly affected by controlling the following factors for the source
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1. Selection of the source


a. Individual (their creativity, IQ, experience, knowledge, so on.. )
b. Group compositions
c. Source (see sources listed in chapter 2, section 2.74)
2. Affecting Motivation
a. Intrinsic
b. Incentives
3. Knowledge and Stimuli
4. Environment for creativity
5. others (catch all category)

Steven, Burley, & Divine showed that highly creative people with business
discipline product disproportionately more revenue when placed into
development project (Stevens, Burley, & Divine, 1999). As well, Kelley & Littman
(2005) among other recommended non-homogenous team with very diverse
backgrounds and expertise.
Section 2.7 speaks at length about the different groups of individuals
which can be sources of ideas. Obviously one can use selection of the source
group as a method of control. Yet again, it is ridiculous to think one source of
individuals is always the best. It again depends upon the circumstances and the
type of ideas required, the time frame the ideas are needed in, the money and
resources allocated to generating ideas and so forth. For example one might
choose the core customer group as a source for incremental ideas for the next
product release, while, one might choose to solicit national laboratories and
consultants for radical technology ideas to be release in the next five years.
Motivation is well known to affect task performance, and creativity
research has shown intrinsic motivation and the incentives provided affect the
motivation individuals have for generating ideas (Alam, 2003; Flynn, Dooley, &
O’Sullivan, 2003; Belliveau, Griffin, & Somermeyer, 2002; Gorski, & Heinekamp,
2002; Abdulaziz,1995; Toubia, 2006; Derry, 2004).
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Knowledge was also described as greatly increasing one’s ability to


produce ideas in a given area (Foster, 1996; Kelley, Littman, & Peters, 2001;
Kelley & Littman, 2005; Hardagon & Sutton, 2000). Kelley and Hardagon also
mentioned that providing employees with as much knowledge as possible greatly
increases their abilities to bring disparate concepts to the table and create highly
innovative ideas.
Of course, there are many other factors affecting the ability of the source
to generate ideas like their situation, work-load, communication abilities, access
to tools, and so forth. Leaving an open category of “other” can help researchers
and practitioners to keep in mind that this list is not comprehensive.

3.2.5. Internal vs. External Source and Methods of Control


There is a great difference in the amount of control which can be placed over
internal sources versus and external sources. Internal sources like employees,
management, and sales people can be controlled via the above-mentioned
points of control. On the contrary, one may only be able to control the selection of
external sources and their incentives.
Nonetheless, open innovation research has taught that for every talented
developer inside a company, there are a hundred outside who may be just as
talented. Consequently, innovation practitioners should greatly consider external
source even though there are less points for controlling them.
Figure 3.7 illustrates the difference in points of control for external and
internal sources. It is surmised that the lack of control of external sources may
even reduce the amount of management resources needed to generate ideas. In
some instances, it may be easier and cheaper to control external sources at an
idea generation events, like a bake-off contest, than to internally hire and
manage two full-time food researchers to develop new food ideas. One can make
a similar argument for hiring a consultant, or idea generation company to
generate ideas.
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Figure 3.7. Controls over Sources of Ideas

3.2.6. Controlling Idea Generation Activities


Now that controlling the sources of idea and idea generation events has been
discussed, controlling the idea generation activities can be examined. Section 2.7
contained a fairly detailed examination of idea generation processes. From this
examination, one can hypothesize the following things can be controlled
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1. Selection and combination of idea generation techniques, activities,


& processes
2. Execution of the idea generation techniques, activities, & processes
3. The tools, and resources given to idea generation process
4. Environment (direct environment, company culture, and national
culture)
5. Other.

The underlining assumption of the books, articles, and papers on idea


generation is that it can be fine-tuned and better methods can be selected. It is
beneficial that authors like Anthony Ulwick, Eric von Hippel, and Tom Kelley
advocate their own sort of idea generation processes because it opens up
practitioners’ eyes up to different and better ways to generate ideas.
The diversity of idea generation methods definitely allows new product
practitioners to select from an ever growing array of options. Hopefully, the list of
idea generation techniques, activities, and processes in Section 2.7 allows
practitioners to get a better idea of their options.
It takes skill to execute or perform an idea generation activity or process
correctly. Kelley, Littman, & Peters, (2001) speak about how to properly conduct
a brainstorming session. Kelley et al. (2001) recommends a brainstorming leader
who makes sure ideas are not criticized, ideas are flowing, all members are
giving and receiving input, and the session is constantly bring new ideas into the
mix.
Each of the idea generation activities mentioned in Tables 2.2 to 2.5 can
be conducted properly or improperly, which obviously will affect the quality of the
results. Management and leadership of the idea generation activities is a critical
means of controlling idea generation and should not be ignored. Because
improperly these processes could result in useless and, even worst, harmful
ideas.
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The tools, and resources provided to the idea generation process in some
cases are critical. IDEO idea generation process requires prototyping during the
show and tell and prototyping activities. Not providing the raw materials and
manufacturing tools to create prototype kills this critical link in IDEO’s idea
generation process. Similarly, the outcome based innovation process requires
customer visits. Yet short-cutting these customer visits to save money will cripple
this process and result in a few poor ideas.
Idea generation processes are invaluable, because they usually include
estimates of the resources (time, money, people, and physical items) needed to
perform the processes properly. Unfortunately, idea generation activities are
usually not too specific.
Environments are divided into direct environment, company culture, and
national culture where studies focus on their impact on creativity. The easiest to
control is the direct environment, which is often done by allowing employees to
participate in idea retreats in parks, business hotels, or other settings like exotic
locations.
Company culture is much more difficult to control, as shown by change
management literature. Companies like IDEO, 3M, and Google have taken great
efforts to tune their culture to generate ideas (Kelley & Littman, 2005; Hardagon
& Sutton, 2000; Lashinsky, 2006; Berkun, 2007). This researcher believes one
cannot change their company culture quickly enough to be able to affect short
term idea generation, and hence should consider more long term methods of
controlling idea generation.
Finally, “Other” is a general catch-all category, which may include things
like state of the business, the amount of training provided on the processes,
communication between members, and others. Again the effects which the
people have on quality of the generated ideas are taken into account in the prior
source part of the model.
144

3.2.7. Internal and External Idea Generation and Control


A company may have very limited amounts of control over external idea
generation activities. For example, a company might be able to recommend to an
external source a process for coming up with ideas, but ultimately, the company
may have little or no control over the four mentioned point, as depicted in Figure
3.8.

Figure 3.8. Controls over External and Internal Idea Generation

Of course, contracts can be put in place to enforce the use of a given


process, but it is unlikely that outside groups would want to help create ideas
given these restrictions. Sensibly, it was deduced that some control may be
gained by providing resources to the outside groups to aid in their idea
generation activities. For example, some money may be given to a consulting
firm to help subsidize the consultant’s time, or some prototyping materials may
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be given to a college club to help aid them in creating ideas. Once more, one
may also be able to suggest idea generation activities but again they would have
a limited amount of enforceability.

3.2.8. Screening and Filtering Before Being Captured


Section 3.3 will discuss in detail, idea banks, screening, and filtering. But there is
some value in quickly discussing, screening and filtering, because it sometimes
is directly integrated into the process of generating ideas and thus affect the
outcome of the ideas produced.
Section 2.7 showed several idea generation processes, and if one notices
screening and filtering is integrated into several of those processes. For example,
IDEO’s and Blue Ocean strategy’s process generates many ideas but through
the voting process many ideas are filtered out as illustrated by figure 2.26.
Of course, the degree of screening and filtering can be considered to be a
control point which is both separate from, and inside the idea generation
activities as shown in figures 3.9 & 3.10. For instance when hosting an idea
competition; a company can specify the type an attributes of ideas which can be
entered into the competition. Hence, one can consider a screen/filter another
construct which can control and affect the flow of ideas.

Figure 3.9. Screening and Filtering Located After Idea Generation Activities
146

Figure 3.10. Screening and Filtering in and After Idea Generation Activities

One can also hypothesize that individuals may perform self-screening of


ideas prior to submitting their ideas to the company. An example can be seen in
IDEO’s idea generation process, when the employees each select their top three
ideas to submit to the group. As Rochford (1991) states: “many people do some
sort of screening themselves and eliminate the idea rather than submitting it for
consideration” (Rochford, 1991, p. 82). Also, companies like IDEO accept all
types of ideas, while others like Arm & Hammer screen out all ideas submitted by
customers. Screening and filtering can also occur inside a company by:
A. Attributes of the idea (category, driver, revenue potential so on)
B. Source of the idea (group which created it)
C. Way the idea was generated (method used, tools used)
D. Condition inside or outside the company
Above is a rough list of hypothesized factors by which ideas may be filtered or
screened. The first is the attributes of the ideas which may include its category,
the idea driver (market driven or technology driven), revenue, difficulty and on
and on. This is the largest category and is typically the way ideas are screened
(Bakker, Boersma, & Oreel, 2006). Second, the source idea can be used in
screening. Typically ideas from the CEO or chairman are not screened out,
whereas, ideas from the mail room boy may be. Third, the way the idea was
generated can be used to screen out the idea. For instance, a new product
development manager may only want ideas which were produced with a detailed
understanding of the customer.
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Finally, conditions inside and outside the company is a large catching all
category which can include anything from the financial status of the company to
economic climate. One may use reason like, “we are just out of money, or too
busy to deal with these ideas now” as excuse to screen out ideas. Again,
screening can be performed by oneself (self-screening ideas) or by the
organizations. Many things may lead to self-screening of ideas like the
receptiveness of the company to previously submitted ideas, credit given to the
inventor, ridicule for previous idea, and so forth. Again, screening and filtering will
be discussed in much more detail in the following sections.

3.2.9. Quick Review on Areas of Control


So too quickly review, four major areas for controlling the full idea generation
process have been identified and are illustrated in figure 3.11 below. The source
is the start of the process, and it was hypothesized that sources inside the
company can be controlled much more than sources outside the company.

Figure 3.11. Points of Control in the Full Idea Generation Process

Next, the events triggering idea generation can be an area of great


control, and were hypothesized to constitute both formal and informal events and
controllable and uncontrollable events. Formal events can be a great method of
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controlling idea generation. Afterwards, idea generation activities can be


controlled via the mentioned means, and is important that a company examine
their methods of generating idea so they can improve them.
Finally, the screening and filtering is an area of control which could greatly
affect the resulting ideas. Thus it should be examined closely because it may
greatly limit the creation and flow of ideas

3.2.10. Strategy and Idea Generation


One may ask: “how does a company’s strategy influence idea generation
activities?” This question was addressed in a limited way in surveys related to
product portfolio management (Adams-Bigelow 2005; Cooper 1999; Cooper,
Edgett, & Kleinschmidt 2006). To quickly review, product portfolio management is
very similar to managing a portfolio of stocks and bonds. In product portfolio
management the goal is to maximize the value of the product launches while
balancing the resource requirements of the commercialization and new product
development processes, and the risk associated with the projects.
In portfolio management, one tries to select and advance new product
projects based on assessment of its potential outcome, and its fit with the rest of
the projects being developed. In doing this, they may utilize many tools and
approaches, which can be categorized into general models: financial models
(net present value & ROI), probability models (decision trees), strategic
approaches (fit with a company strategy), mapping models (bubble maps and
Boston consulting group plots), and scoring models (qualitative scoring, and
check lists scoring), among others. Some of these tools may be more valid than
others, especially for specific industries. For example, Parnell, Lester, &
Menefee’s (1997) study of department stores found that using ROA was a more
preferable measure to ROI.
Cooper (1999) found 26% of the companies he surveyed used business
strategy in their portfolio management processes, and Adams-Bigelow (2005) in
chapter 36 of PDMA found 47% of the respondent have a “strategy and a
149

portfolio management processes” (p. 69). This shows there is a large variation in
the level of impact strategy has on the overall innovation process. However these
surveys do not shed much light on how strategy solely impacts idea generation.
Adams-Bigelow (2005) surveyed companies about formally planned idea
generation and whether they were used to fill gaps or generate new ideas. Chart
7.1 below shows the results of this survey.

No
Formal fill gaps in product portfolio
11% strateg
Formal because more idea are
needed
18% 22% Informal activities to fill gaps
3%
Informal activities because more idea
are needed
Idea generation without prompting
13% Other methods
33%

Figure 3.12. Statistical Results from Adams-Bigelow Showing How Idea Were
Generated

Interestingly, this survey showed 25% of the ideas were created with
prompting or without a strategic need. Still this does not shed much light on the
actual impact strategy had on the idea generation processes.
Flynn et al. (2003) is clearly in favor of strategy driving innovation in his
quote “innovation management involves coordinating a portfolio of development
projects within a clear innovation framework, informed by an overall business
strategy” (Flynn et al, 2003, p.32). Cooper (2006) also says portfolio
management should strongly involve strategy, as well his 1999 article shows
better innovation results when strategy approaches are integrated into portfolio
management processes. As well, Cooper and Kleinschmidt (1996) contend the
project targets must fit the product’s strategy.
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Rochford (1991) suggests that strategy should determine the process for
finding ideas. Interestingly, Stach, Lonsdale, & LaVenka (1992) define company
situations which spawn a search for new ideas as resulting from a: a) desire to
break into new market b) desired to improve market position c) desire to regain
market leadership, d) desire to remain a viable competitor. These desires can be
taken to be strategic objectives which can trigger and guide idea generation.
Guimares and Langely (1994) state new ideas must be consistent with
the company’s goals. Amabile (1998) suggests that idea generation teams must
share the team’s goals consistent with an appreciation of the organization
strategy. Of course, front end models like Khurana & Rosenthal (1998) directly
integrate strategy into the process. Understandably, all of the above references
argue idea generation should have a strong base in strategy, but there are others
who argue the contrary.
Researchers who propose that idea generation should be open and not
strategy driven include Lawson & Samson (2001) who state “radical ideas can
transfer business strategy or create new businesses” (Lawson & Samson, 2001,
p. 323). As Zien & Buckler (1997) state, “being truly experimental in the front end
means understanding that some new ideas are significant enough to redirect the
strategy of the enterprise” (Zien & Buckler, 1997, p. 32). Moskowitz (1997)
mentions a hap-hazard strategy where, metaphorically, you try a project by
“throwing stuff against the wall and hoping it sticks” (Moskowitz, 1997, p. 12).
Google has a similar strategic approach, where they try many different projects
(most outside the company strategy) in the hopes that some will be adopted by
the market (Lashinsky, 2006). Additionally, ideas created by the Blue Ocean
Strategy process are specifically meant to change the strategic direction of a
company.
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Given these findings this thesis posits three possible ways strategy can
affect idea generation, as illustrated by figure 3.13.

Figure 3.13. Strategy’s Possible Influence on the Idea Generation Processes

The first way strategy is thought to affect the process is by setting direct
objectives for the idea generation activities. This is supported strongly by the
33% of companies found in 2003 by Adam-Begelow (2005) who generated ideas
formally to fill in gaps in their portfolio. An example of this would be a company
setting the objective of generating ideas for new non-toxic paints in order to meet
the new strategic goal of becoming more environmentally friendly. This type of
influence is termed “strategically-driven idea creation” and it is hypothesized
that ideas resulting from this would fit most strongly with the company’s strategy.
The second way strategy is thought to affect idea generation is by
influencing the idea generation process and is termed “strategically-influenced
idea creation”. This can range from a very strong formal influence to a weak
informal influence.
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An example of a weak influence would be a company setting the goal of


entering two new markets in the next two years. The individuals in the company
notice this strategic goal and try to generate ideas for markets outside their core.
Whereas, an example of strong influence would be a company, in a similar
situation, openly rewarding and compensating individuals who generated ideas
which can be used to enter new markets.
Finally, strategy can have no impact on the idea generation processes
among others who state some idea generation is done to open up strategic
options (Zien, & Buckler, 1997; Moskowitz, 1997; Lashinsky, 2006). To some
degree Adams-Bigelow (2005) survey results which show 23% of the idea
generated came with no promoting hints at strategy not being a driver of idea
generation. Hence, the term “Strategy-less idea creation” denote that strategy
had no influence on the idea generation processes.

Figure 3.14. Strategic Idea Continuum

The strategic idea continuum, illustrated above in figure 3.14, was created
solely to discuss how strategy affects the ideas created during idea generation.
Now, the left side of the strategic idea continuum represents ideas which fall in
line with the company’s current strategy. It is hypothesized that strategically-
driven idea creation will on average produce these types of ideas.
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In the middle of the continuum are ideas which create new strategic
options. It is hypothesized that both strategically influenced and strategy-less
idea creation generate these types of ideas. Processes like Blue Ocean strategy
are specifically used to create ideas which open up strategic options for a
company.
Finally, the right side of the continuum shows ideas which are not viable
strategic options for a company. This may be because, these types of ideas may
require too much money, or are way outside the capabilities of the company.

3.2.11. Idea Generation’s Process Check Analysis


Now that a conceptual understanding of how to control the idea generation
process has been developed, one must look at the output of the processes being
the generated ideas, so that the process can be improved via feedback.
Feedback from
end of processes
Managing the idea generation processes
Points of control Points of control Process Check Analysis
Point of Control Points of control
Idea Generation Screening and A. Attributes
The source The Event
Activities Filtering B. Source
C. Way it was created

idea
Screen
Idea
Source Event Idea Generation Activities and
filter
idea
idea

Figure 3.15. Control model for Idea Generation

It is hypothesized the feedback is critical in managing the full idea


generation processes. Figure 3.15 above shows the outputted ideas should be
examined so the idea generation process can be checked as meeting its
intended objectives. Additionally, extra feedback about the processes can be
captured by observing the idea generation activities. Active observation of idea
generation activities is used by companies like IDEO to insure activities are being
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executed correctly, the right tools are being used, and that the environment is
fruitful. However, to fully understand the feedback process one must first
understand what type of feedback is required to manage the processes.

3.2.12. Characteristics of Created Ideas


Total quality management taught manufacturing professionals to improve the
quality measurements must be made. So, if one wanted to improve the
tolerances of a piston diameter one must measure those features repeatedly.
Idea generation is not anywhereas precise as manufacturing, yet it shares a base
similarity in that the controls in the process very much affect the output.
Simply put, the ideas created by the process should provide the main feedback
required to manage the process. Thus, it is important to understand the
characteristics of the produced ideas. This requires the ideas to be analyzed.
When assessing an idea it was hypothesized that the following items are
of importance as feedback: a) the attributes of the idea, b) the source of the
ideas, and c) how the idea was created. Interestingly, Koen’s et al.’s (2001)
model and Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll’s (2006) front end models show idea
selections as being an integrated step, of which a rough analysis of the idea must
be performed. Consequently, this researcher recommends roughly assessing all
of the ideas generated on some base factors. Plus, as a deeper understanding of
idea generation grows so will the practitioner’s ability to control it. The attributes
of an idea will be roughly mentioned here, but will be greatly expanded upon in
the next section on idea banks.
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a) The attributes of the idea


o Driver of the idea (technology, market, customer-driven idea)
o Innovation category under which the idea falls
o Sawhney, Wolcott, & Arroniz’s (2006) cites 12 areas of innovation
o Continuous, discontinuous idea
o Risk & uncertain of the idea
o Financial aspect of the idea (potential revenue, investment
requirement)
o Resource aspects of the idea (management, tools, machinery
needs for the idea)
o Market aspect of the idea (what markets it can be used in)
b) Source of the idea
o Who created the idea
c) Way the idea was generated
o Customer understanding
o Event triggering the idea
o Strategy impact on the idea
o Screen affect on the idea
o Buy in of others

3.2.13. A Practical example of managing the idea generation process


A narrative example will be given, to illustrate how the feedback is vital to the
managing the idea generation processes. In this example, a company is trying to
generate disruptive ideas to fill their product portfolio. They use IDEO’s idea
generation processes described in section 2.7.3.3 and produce a batch of 5
ideas. The attributes of the ideas were roughly measured and are shown below.
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Table 3.1. Example of Idea from the Company’s First Attempt

Driver Innovation Continuous Risk Financial Resources Market


Category Discontinuous
1 Technology Product Discontinuous High High High Current
2 Market Product Discontinuous Low Low Low Not-
served
3 Technology Product Discontinuous High High High Current
4 Technology Product Discontinuous Low High High Current
5 Technology Product Discontinuous High High High Current

Upon reviewing the produced ideas the new product development


manager realizes he can only take on projects which have (1) low risk projects
and (2) have low financial commitments. Further, based on experience, he
knows technology and market driven ideas for products are, on average, rejected
by his company, while customer driven idea, especially those ideas which are
submitted by customers are overwhelmingly accepted by upper management.
He realizes, to his dismay, that none of the ideas generated, will be able to make
it through to commercialization.
So, he decides to tune the idea generation processes based on the
feedback from his first attempt. First he selects a new source being 1) his core
customer and 2) his NPD team. He then selects outcome based innovation and
schedules a 2 week event where his NPD team will work with the core
customers. He also incentivizes his NPD team with monetary and social rewards
for ideas fitting his needs. He manages the idea generation activities and insures
the NPD team is focusing on the customer desired outcomes not their technical
needs. He also instructs the team to screen out ideas which are continuous in
nature. This process results in five new ideas as in table 3.2 shown below.
After reviewing the generated ideas, the new product development
manager is very please but would like to see more ideas which require low
amounts of resources. He also notices that the majority of the new product ideas
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require low amounts of resource while the service ideas require high amounts of
resources. Thus, he instructs the NPD team to concentrate on desired customer
outcomes which should be filled with new products, instead of services.

Table 3.2. Example of Improved Set of Idea Resulting from Second Attempt

Driver Innovation Continuous Risk Financial Resources Market


Category Discontinuous
1 Customer Product Discontinuous High High High Current
2 Customer Product Discontinuous Low Low Low Not-served
3 Customer Product Discontinuous Low Low Low Not-served
4 Customer Service Discontinuous High High High Current
5 Customer Service Discontinuous High High High Current

3.2.14. Summary of Section


In summary, this section started with the intent of defining how the full idea
generation process could be controlled. First, both continuous and event driven
idea generation were reviewed, and idea generation events were examined in
detail. It was hypothesized that company could use ideation events to control the
output of the idea generation processes. The methods of controlling internal and
external events were then described.
Next controlling the idea generation process via the controlling the
sources of idea was described. Methods of controlling internal and external
sources were hypothesizes and proposed. After this, points of controlling the idea
generation processes were hypothesized and proposed. As well, points of
controlling the screening and filtering were hypothesized and proposed. Next,
strategy’s influence on the idea generation process was examined for which, the
strategic idea continuum was introduced to help analyze the influence of strategy
on the idea generation process.
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This was followed by a full model showing how idea generation processes
could be controlled. This model integrated feedback gathered by analyzing the
outputted ideas. It is hypothesized that ideas should be analyzed by a) their
attributes, b) their source, and by c) how they were created. Finally, a case
example of how to manage the idea generation processes was created to
demonstrate the points of control and the importance of feedback. Yet despite
the greater understanding which has been developed, the front end of innovation
requires a better understanding of how idea banks play into the innovation
process and flow of ideas.

3.3. Development of a Control Model for Idea Banks and Idea Management
This section proposes a control model for idea management and idea banks.
Also in the interest of expanding the knowledge in this area, This researcher will
look past the typical functions of capturing, storing, and diffusing ideas to uncover
new ways which idea management can aid the innovation process.

3.3.1. Major Functions of Idea Management


As has been identified in the literature review idea management and idea banks
have several major functions. First, This researcher considers idea banks as a
subset of idea management, in which, idea banks only perform the functions of
storing and distributing the ideas and opportunities. Many idea bank software
programs also perform additional functions of screening, analysis, and so on, but
they are in This researcher’s opinion also performing idea management
functions. For the purposes of this research, idea banks will be strictly limited in
definition to the storage of ideas.
Upon reviewing the literature on idea management the major functions
were identified being the: 1) capture of ideas, 2) storage of ideas, 3) organization
of ideas, and 4) screening of ideas (Flynn, Dooley, & O’Sullivan, 2003; Belliveau,
Griffin, & Somermeyer, 2002; Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll, 2006; Gorski,
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&Heinekamp, 2002; Bakker, Boersma, & Oreel, 2006; Heck, 2005; Fritz, 2002;
Dijk, & van de Ende, 2002; Koen et al., 2001). Additionally, idea management
can aid in analysis of ideas (Vandenbosh, Saatcioglu, and Fay, 2006).
Interestingly, much of the literature says that idea banks are a main
means of allowing employees access to ideas. Hardagon & Sutton’s (2000) work
has shown a major part of managing ideas is brokering them around the
organization. These acts of allowing access to ideas, and brokering ideas can
both be viewed under the major activities of “distributing and routing ideas.”
Finally, This researcher has added the major function of tagging to idea
management. Interestingly, some idea management software ask for information
related to, who generated the idea, how it was generated, and record the date
when it was submitted. This software then tags the idea with this identification
information. The value in these tags is that they allow for traceability and to some
degree allow for analysis of the idea generation process so that success can be
replicated or at minimum understood. This thesis suggests tagging as a major
activity of idea management and will take efforts to support this assertion in this
chapter. The list of activities for idea management is seen as the following.
1) Capture
2) Tagging
3) Storing and Categorization
4) Process Check
5) Diffusion and routing
The act of diffusion and routing were place together because it is felt they
are too similar in their nature to be spit into different functions. Routing is the act
of taking and idea which may be relevant to a particular individual and routing it
to them. For example, the operations department may love to have an idea for
reducing cost sent to them from a co-worker in upper management. The following
part of this section will look at each of these five functions in much more detail
and determine major points of control for each.
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Figure 3.16. Initial version of Glassman Model


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3.3.2. Capturing Ideas


Capture is the way which the ideas are literally captured by the company
into the organization’s collective consciousness. So companies which refuse to
listen to ideas from their customers, in a pure sense, are blocking capture from
that source group. Capture of ideas and opportunities can be performed formally
through suggestion boxes, emails, or even advanced idea management
software; or informally, through word-of-mouth, or other general means of
communication. Obviously, This researcher prefers formal means to capture
ideas and opportunities, but there are instances where informal means may be
effective, like in very small organizations.
The goal of the capture function is to extract ideas and opportunities from
the minds of those who possess them and put those ideas and opportunities in a
form which can be retained for the organization (for documentation purposes).
Ideas and opportunities can be captured from internal sources, but open
innovation has also shown great value in capturing ideas and opportunities from
external sources as well (Heck, 2005). Section 2.7.4 again has a detailed list of
sources, both internal and external, where ideas can be obtained from.
Finally, one should not forget that capturing opportunities is just as
important as capturing ideas. As shown in chapter 3 opportunities are the vital
fuel used in the idea generation activities to produce more ideas.

3.3.2.1. Controlling Capture


This research identifies three main ways to control the capture of ideas
and opportunities: 1) selection of the source which the ideas and opportunities
will be captured from, 2) controlling the method of capture, how it is done and
why that method was chosen, and 3) managing the execution of capturing ideas.
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3.3.2.2. Controlling Capture via Selection of Source


The first point of control for capture is the selection of the source where
ideas will be captured from. For example, a company may determine through
hard learned experience that ideas from suppliers are most always infeasible.
Thus, the company can reduce the number of infeasible ideas by blocking the
capture of ideas from the supplier sources. In addition, companies may not be
aware of the great value created by obtaining ideas from dissatisfied customers,
and thus should instruct customer service representatives to capture these ideas.
If anything, open innovation research has shown a tremendous power in
capturing ideas from outside sources, and that selecting and soliciting the correct
source can generate many valuable ideas. Therefore, determining the sources
from which ideas will be captured is one of the first inputs which must be
determined.
There is a benefit and cost to acquiring ideas from any source. However, a
company should not discount any source simply because they produce poor
ideas. As companies gain more knowledge as to how to control idea generation,
they may obtain the means to turn that source into an effective source of ideas.
In other words, you really cannot say a piece of machinery is useless until you
really know how to operate it. Tucker (2003) provided an example whereby
instead of asking for ideas from suppliers, they provide the suppliers with a
problem. They ask suppliers to work on a solution to the problem and their efforts
have generated a number of valuable ideas which were subsequently patented.

3.3.2.3. Controlling via the Method of Capture


Another means of controlling capture is the method in which ideas and
opportunities are captured. Idea capture methods include anything from the
simple oral description given at a meeting, to more formal idea written on paper,
all the way to fully integrated idea management systems. Idea management
software concentrates, in particular, on the method of capturing ideas. In some
odd cases, ideas are captured in their physical or visual forms like in IDEO’s
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Tech box, where they store the actual product or material idea along with a short
description. Again, Section 2.8 reviews the major ways of capturing ideas.
There is a trade off in idea submission between the detail and energy
required to submit ideas. The more energy required to submit an idea, the
greater the barrier to submission. For example, asking an unsophisticated
customer to fill out five pages of forms in order to submit an idea would
effectively block ideas from that source.
Hence, in selecting the method of capture, a company must balance the
energy required against the amount of detail and specificity needed. For
example, a law firm may want a very easy way to capture ideas over the phone
or voicemail whereas, an engineering firm may want a more elaborate way to
insure the capture of vital details.

3.3.2.4. Controlling via the Execution of Capture


Controlling the execution of capture is managing the ongoing process of
capturing ideas, and it is nowhereas simple as putting a box in the corner and
letting it collect ideas. Here are a few examples to prove this point.
If a secretary is assigned to capturing all ideas from employees in the
department after a while he may become complacent, or even worse, he may
dissentingly choose not to capture ideas from a particular employee that he
dislikes. Another example is that lonely suggestion box which people stopped
putting ideas into after they realized that no one was assigned to retrieve and
catalog the ideas.
Setting up the system is one thing, but running it and managing it is
another. Open idea management systems, are much better in the respects that
the submitter can actively see if their idea was captured. Therefore, this is one of
the reasons why employee-driven idea systems (EDIS) have high participation
rates (Gorski and Heinekamp, 2002).
Thus, in setting up capture one must ask, what can go wrong, and what
procedure or management efforts can be put in place to insure this part of the
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process operates correctly. This can get rather complicated when a company is
capturing ideas from several sources simultaneously, but yet it can still be
managed, and is much less complicated than running an assembly line in a plant.
Later in this capture process, this research posits that idea generation and
idea management should have a separate group managing it. In doing so, there
will be active control over vital parts of the process, like capture.

3.3.2.5. Capture Integrated with Screening and Filtering


In many cases, companies combine the acts of capturing ideas with the act of
screening and filtering. This is completely acceptable, and logical, because again
internal screening can reduce the number of poor ideas, whereas, ideas from
outside sources will not be screened in this manner. Capture adds a bit of detail
to screening. The following paragraphs will elaborate on screening with respect
to capture.

3.3.2.6. Capturing Ideas from External Sources


Interestingly, ideas from outside the company, can be a) used directly with little
or no modification, and or b) can be modified to suit the needs of the company,
and or c) can be used to seed people inside the company with stimulus to help
them generate their own ideas. In addition, ideas can be brought into the
company at different points in their concept lifecycle (Figure 2.1).
Some companies become adept at getting ideas from outside sources at
particular stages in the concepts development. For example, Cisco is adept at
obtaining market concept by acquiring small to medium companies for their
technology, and then integrating those technologies into their product and service
offerings. Other examples are large pharmaceutical companies (Pfizer, Merck,
and GSK) which only listen to solicitations from outside drug developers after
those drugs have passed FDA phase 2 trials.
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New product managers should know what level of concept development is


typically accepted and utilized by their company’s (see Figure 2.1). For example
some companies are culturally very skeptical and risk averse and may reject any
ideas which at a minimum has not passed a prototype test, whereas other
companies may have successfully employed ideas from any phase of the
concept life cycle.

Figure 3.17. An Example of a Company’s Receptiveness to Outside Ideas at


Respective Levels of Concept Development

Again there are many reasons why a company may not want to accept
ideas at certain levels of development. Like for instance an idea in the concept
phase may have too much risk or an idea in the pilot stage may be too developed
and will not be backed by the new product development group (again NIH
syndrome). Nonetheless, part of the strategy for receiving ideas from outside
sources should include the idea’s level of concept development.
Furthermore, ideas can be placed in different categories and a company
may have a different level of responsiveness to each category of ideas. Figure
3.18 shows an example of a company which is not responsive to brand or
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process ideas. Now for the sake of brevity, the remainder of this chapter will be
limited to sources of ideas for new offerings (being products and services) shown
as the first circle on Figure 3.18.

Figure 3.18. An Example of a Company’s Receptiveness to Outside Ideas in


Different Innovation Categories

3.3.3. Tagging
As shown in figure 3.16, tagging follows capture, and is the act of attaching
additional information to the idea, so that it can be used to a) refine the idea
generation and idea management process, as well as b) aid the later innovation
process by formalizing company biases.
Tagging an idea can be thought of as a product information tag on a food
product, which shows the origin of the food, manufacturer, content, shelf-life, and
so on. Tagging in manufacturing is a vital task because it allows for tracking, and
most importantly, accountability. If a bad batch of food goes out the door, the
quality examiner who authorized the batch can be identified via the tag and
therefore held accountable.
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In idea generation, tagging can be used in a positive light to improve upon


good or successful practices. Knowing how good and great ideas were created
allows the company to identify best practices, and gives them the opportunity to
reproduce the conditions that created those great ideas. Similarly, it is valuable to
know what activities, people, and process produced particular type of ideas, like
incremental, or disruptive, market-driven, or customer-driven.
For example, knowing that one product development manager was
associated with the creation of the company’s most valuable ideas, or knowing
that the most useful disruptive ideas came out of outcome-based-innovation is a
valuable insight. These insights can be used to refine the idea generation
process. Product development managers can be used to train others, and
outcome-based innovation can be applied to create ideas for other parts of the
business. The following paragraphs will explain how tagging is valuable to the
later innovation processes by dealing with unknown company biases.

3.3.3.1. Innovation Drivers


It seems companies can have cultural and process based bias toward certain
types of ideas. For instance, Nortel was only structured to develop ideas from
customers, while Volvo was clearly shown to have a bias toward technology
ideas (Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll, 2006; Backman, Borjesson, & Setterberg,
2007). Backman, Borjesson, and Setterberg (2007) write in some detail about
how companies can have natural biases toward ideas with different drivers. They
categorize ideas as being technology-driven, customer-driven, market-driven,
and value-driven (Backman, Borjesson, & Setterberg, 2007; Conway, &
McGuinnes 1986; Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll, 2006).
Research of Fortune 1000 companies by Jaruzelski, & Dehoff (2008)
presents a more thorough examination of these drivers. According to their
findings, these drivers result in similar innovation strategy, including: (1) need
seekers, (2) market readers, and (3) technology drivers.
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Need seekers actively seek customer needs, and use idea generation
activities which focus on gathering customer needs and ideating to meet those
needs. The innovation pipeline of need seekers are rigorously managed to track
return on innovation investment (Jaruzelski, & Dehoff 2008).
Market readers focused a cautious approach of reading market trends via
market research and competitive intelligence. “Market readers spend less on
R&D as a percentage of sales and tended to prefer incremental developments;
as a result, they were apt at bringing fast follower products to market. Market
readers were also mentioned to have pipelines which verified the products value
to customers” (Jaruzelski, & Dehoff 2008, p. 119).
Technology driven companies preferred to push the boundaries of
technology to met unarticulated customer needs, rather than innovation based on
customer needs or market trends. They used extensive technology mapping to
scout for new technology and understand where they should place their design
efforts.
In a sense, these drivers and bias may link to some unmentioned cultural
values. This researcher hypothesis that technology driven companies believe
they must lead in technology to be successful in innovation and that the risk of
failure is a direct result of this choice. On the other hand, market readers or
market-driven companies believe that careful understanding and following of
market trends can result in a lower risk approach to innovation and a better
return on R&D dollars.
Finally, need seekers or customer-driven companies believe that
customers are at the heart of the company’s revenues and that future success
required much attention be place on customer needs to be successful in
innovation. Interestingly, this research supports the assertion by Jaruzelski, &
Dehoff (2008) that no single strategy is best, and that a company should select
approaches which mesh with the company’s strategy, competitive environment,
and cultural values.
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This research revealed an additional category of solution-driven


companies is missing from the literature. Consultants often increase their offering
based on visible need for a solution in the market place. Thus, these consulting
firms spend money developing solution or solution packages which can solve a
particular set of problem. One known example is IBM, which shifted towards a
solutions-based company in 2002, and utilized their brand name and expertise to
offer consulting and implementation solutions to the general market. It is
hypothesized that solution-driven companies look for current or impending
problem areas in a particular market, or with technology (much like need
seekers) and are driven to offer solutions.

3.3.3.2. Idea Category bias


Similarly, companies can have biases toward particular idea categories like
products over services as shown by Sawhney, Wolcott, and Arroniz (2006)
innovation categories. Finally, Christensen (2003) showed how companies
structurally and culturally are un-able to develop disruptive and radical ideas
(Christensen, 2003; McDermott, & O’connor, 1999; Verworn & Herstatt, 2001;
Backman, Borjesson, & Setterberg, 2007; Bean, & Radford, 2002).
To remedy these natural biases, companies initially have to become
aware they have a natural bias. This can be first achieved through education by
books like Christensen’s (2003) The Innovator’s Dilemma and second be
achieved through making the innovation process more transparent. Again, the
proposed solution of tagging was hypothesized to help make the innovation
process more transparent. One proposed way to deal with the bias toward
certain types of ideas in the innovation process is by tagging an idea with
information. By initially tagging ideas one can track the progress of particular
ideas through the innovation processes and visibly see the bias of a company.
For example, you can compare how many ideas are tagged as being customer-
driven in the idea bank, then compare how many were selected for development
in the FFE, and NPD processes.
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50 of 150 (1/3) are customer-driven in the idea bank


10 of 50 (1/5) projects are developed in the FFE
1 of 20 (1/10) were developed in the NPD
1 of 12 (1/12) made it to market launch

The list above shows an example of a company’s innovation process and


the number of customer-driven ideas being pushed through to market launch. By
quickly reviewing the tags associated with projects in the portfolio an innovation
practitioner can quickly generate these numbers. One quickly sees that the
number of customer-driven ideas drops in the NPD, which might indicate a bias
of the NPD process against customer-driven ideas.

3.3.3.3. Controlling tagging


Tagging can be controlled rather easily by the input conditions: (1) the method of
tagging, (2) the attributes of the tag and (3) by the way tagging is executed.

3.3.3.4. Controlling via method of tagging


The method of capture also dictates the method in which the idea can be tagged.
So for example, if ideas are captured orally over the phone and then memorized,
one must also ask the submitter how the idea was created, what event triggered
its creation, and so on. If the idea is submitted in to a suggestion box the act of
tagging becomes much more difficult. However, if a standardized forum is used
along with a suggestion box, the required tag info can be integrated into the
forum.
Idea management software allows the greatest flexibility in terms of
tagging because they can ask follow up questions and then formally store that
information with the idea, and be recalled very quickly. Whatever form the tag
takes - written, computer based, or oral - it is just important that the information
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capture in the tag stays with the idea so it can be traced. So if the idea is
accepted as a project and then passes on into the development, management
should be able to quickly pull up the idea tag info associated with the project to
see what conditions lead to the ideas creations. Again, the innovation process is
a value chain, and tracking items as they proceed through the process is just vital
to improving the links in that chain.

3.3.3.5. Controlling via Attributes of the Tag


Again, the amount of detail captured for the tag must be balance against the
energy in obtaining it. Not every piece of information is vital, only a few are. Thus,
asking a submitter what time and day he had the idea is much less relevant than
what event triggered him to create the idea. Thus, this research concludes there
are a few required items which should be captured along with an idea. These
items are listed on the following page, and are broken up into process related
tags and idea related tags.
Collecting information related to the idea like financial potential, feasibility,
and so on is not required by the tag, because the tagging function is more
concerned with tracing the idea creation back through the process. Additionally,
capturing information like financial potential, required resources and so on at the
time of submission is a bit premature because, (1) you cannot estimate them
without having done a fair bit of analysis, and (2) because you want to take time
and develop the idea further to increase the financial potential and or lower the
required resources.
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Source Tag Info


• Who or what group of people generated the idea?
• What motivated the source to generate this ideas?
Event Tag Info
• What event triggered them to create the idea? (formal or informal)
• Was the event a formal event held by the company or dictated by
management?
• What incentive motivated them to generate the idea?
• When did the event occur?
Activities Tag Info
• What activities did they formally do to come up with the idea?
• What activates did they informally do to come up with the idea?
• What was the order of the activities?
• What tools or resources did they use during idea generation?
• Where or how was the environment for idea generation?
• Who managed the idea generation activities?
Screen and Filter Tag Info
• What screens did the idea pass through?
• Who told you not to submit the idea?
• Who managed the screening?
Capture Tag Info
• Who was the idea submitted to?
• How was the idea submitted?
• Who encouraged them to submit the idea?
• Was it hard to submit the idea?
Tags Related to the Idea
• Is this idea (technology, customer, market, value) driven?
• What category is this idea (product, service, process, marketing, ..)?
• Is this a disruptive or incremental idea?
• Is anyone committed to this idea? If so who?
• Who else is aware of this idea?
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3.3.3.6. Controlling via the Execution of Tagging


Tagging is highly linked to capture, because tag information is taken at the time
of capture. Hence managing the capture function can also include managing
tagging. Again, the execution of tagging is important. For example, if a secretary
captures an idea and fails to write down the associated tag information because
they were short on time, the benefits of tagging are forfeit. Hence, managers
much ensure that employees and others submitting ideas are capturing and
tagging ideas appropriately.
Interestingly, properly selecting the method of capture can reduce the
need to manage tagging. For example, idea management softwares can require
the user to fill out related tag information prior to submitting the idea, whereas,
the good old paper submission system can not. Yet, idea management softwares
cannot probe a submitter like a trained manager who can extract accurate tag
information. Hence, extra attention should be paid to the selection of the capture
method because it may greatly reduce the need to actively manage tagging.

3.3.4. Storage and Categorizing


The first part of this section presents a review of how the ideas and opportunities
are stored and how they can be categorized. This is followed by the second part
showing how to control storage and categorization.

3.3.4.1. Formal vs. Informal Storage of Ideas and the Concepts of the Idea Cloud
The following paragraphs will review several obvious attributes which This
researcher deems useful for the innovation process. The first is the form in which
the idea is recorded, being highly formal or informal.
Many ideas exist solely in the minds’ of the employees and have not been
recorded to paper. So to account for these ideas which exist in the larger
organizational consciousness the term “idea cloud” is being used. To help in the
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differentiation, the term “idea bank” is being used strictly as ideas recorded
formally on a fixed media (paper, computer disk, audio tape).

Figure 3.19. Illustration of the Idea Cloud, Idea Bank,


and Company Idea Bank

Figure 3.19 illustrates the idea cloud with two idea banks embedded in it.
Hence, an idea in a person’s mind would be contained in the idea cloud,
whereas, if it was written on paper (say in a lab notebook) it would exist in the
idea bank, and if it was submitted it would then exist in the company’s idea bank.
The value gained from splitting up storage this way is it highlights that
many ideas are kept in peoples minds’ and there are barriers which those ideas
must move across to become more formalized.
So given this, one can view ideas in the organization on a continuum of
formality as shown by Figure 3.20 below. Figure 3.18 shows informal ideas which
may exist in only a person’s mind whereas highly formal ideas may exist on
paper and computer, with fully detailed written descriptions with prototype
pictures and so on.
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Figure 3.20. Illustration of the Continuum of Idea Formality

Interestingly, some companies like IDEO store some of their ideas in a


Tech box which just keeps a physical sample of the idea with a short written
description (Hardagon & Sutton, 2000; Kelley & Littman, 2005). While other
companies may require ideas to be recorded in highly formalized forms (like
several written descriptions, with detailed summaries of the idea, technical
feasibility, required resources and so). An example of idea banks requiring highly
formalized idea submission may be Nortel’s “Galileo” idea management system
described by Montoya-Weiss & O’Driscoll (2006).
Evidently, having ideas in a more formal fashion helps later FFE activities,
but one must keep in mind that requirements for formality may stop individuals
from submitting their ideas. Thus, one must carefully balance the formality
requirements for the idea bank against the need to collect more ideas.

3.3.4.2. Categorization of the Idea Bank


Unfortunately, none of the literature on idea banks or idea management
highlights the diversity of ideas which exists in a formal idea bank. To quickly
illustrate how convoluted an idea bank can become, Figure 3.16 was created.
Figure 3.14 shows a huge diversity of ideas from new to old; analyzed or
unanalyzed; technology or customer driven; product or supply chain; and so on.
Of course, Figure 3.14 does not show the overlap among categories, so an idea
can be new, customer driven, and radical while another can be old, customer
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driven, and incremental. With this dizzying array of categorizations, it may seem
daunting to organize an idea bank. Yet these categorizations give one an
increased ability to search through and select ideas, and use their understanding
of the ideas in the idea bank to improve the innovation process.
For example, if one purely categorized the ideas in an idea bank by
incremental or radical ideas one might see what is illustrated in Figure 3.17.
Instantly, one can deduce that the company is not effectively capturing or
generating radical ideas and should place more effort on these tasks. Similarly,
by organizing ideas by their innovation category (as illustrated in Figure 3.18)
one would see the need for more service ideas.

Figure 3.21. Illustration of the Diversity of Idea Banks


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Figure 3.22. Illustration of Idea Bank Organized by Incremental


and Radical Ideas

Figure 3.23. Illustration of Idea Bank Organized by Innovation Category

Of course, one can organize the ideas in an idea bank by almost any
factors like ideas with the shortest time to market, or lowest amount of required
resources. However, one must be careful not to use factors which in themselves
are useless, irrelevant, or can not be accurately determined. For example, one
should not sort new unanalyzed ideas in an idea bank according to those which
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are most appealing to customers or by total possible revenues, because those


factors will not be determined with a reasonable level of certainty until after they
are analyzed in later FFE activities.
Hence, one can see that ideas may have obvious attributes (like new or
old, or product or service) which can be easily determined even for new un-
analyzed ideas, and conversely, un-obvious attributes (like possible revenues,
required resources, competitive advantage, and so on) which require analysis
and work to uncover.

3.3.4.3. Examined vs. Un-Examined Ideas


It may not be directly obvious, but a quick review with the NPD or FFE team will
uncover which ideas have been formally examined verses which have not been
examined. Knowing this allows one to better organize their efforts in the late FFE
processes. For example, the FFE team may decide to spend three months
evaluating un-examined ideas in the idea bank to see if any great ideas can be
uncovered. Plus, keeping records of the number of examined versus
unexamined ideas in the idea bank will show if the FFE teams are effectively
examining ideas, or if there are too many ideas in the bank.

3.3.4.4. Temporary vs. Permanently Stored Ideas


IDEO’s idea generation process has shown that ideas can be created and stored
temporarily (Kelley, Littman, & Peters, 2001). Again, in IDEO’s process, ideas are
presented to the group, often in a very informal written form, and then used as
bases for the next evolution of the concepts. Ideas which do not make the final
cut are then trashed. The output of the IDEO process again is one or two well
developed ideas.
In companies like IDEO, which have so many diverse client projects, it
really does not make sense to permanently record ideas because, (1) the
chances of getting a similar client project are remote; and (2) the chances of
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using those ideas again are very remote. Thus, the benefit for permanently
recording ideas into the bank does not justify the required energy and time.
However, in other companies there is a much greater benefit to permanently
storing ideas. Hence companies should take note, that there can be cases where
either temporarily storing ideas or permanently storing ideas may be beneficial.

3.3.4.5. Awareness Continuum


Some ideas are known to many inside a company while others may be unknown.
For example, practically every employee in Apple’s competitors being Sony,
Nokia, and Motorola are aware of Apple’s touch screen Iphone; while many less
employees are aware of new ideas like new OLED displays for cell phones.
Obviously, some ideas may have higher levels of awareness than others.
Ideas which have higher levels of awareness may be more easily backed
by their organization and pushed through the new product development and
commercialization process. Having many more people, especially decision
makers like key executives, being aware of an idea may be very helpful in getting
a project noticed and funded. Hence companies should also consider the levels
of awareness associated with an idea (Conley, 2002; Flynn, Dooley, &
O’Sullivan, 2003).

3.3.4.6. Ideas and their Level of Development


Differentiating ideas by their level of development may also prove to be a useful
factor. Ideas which are undeveloped, in development, or developed have
radically different amounts of information associated with them, and may have
firm support which can help spread useful ideas across the organization. For
example, having a team which is currently developing a new process talk and
spread their process may provide the useful energy needed to jumpstart the
implementation of those ideas (like process improvements) in other areas of the
business.
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3.3.4.7. Commitment to Ideas


Ideas which have a high level of commitment behind them are greatly different
than similar ideas with low levels of commitment. For example, an ideas which
has the backing and commitment of the executives and upper management
stands a far greater chance of passing through the NPD process than those
ideas which do not have this support. Also, the employee-driven idea system
mentioned by Gorski, & Heinekamp, (2002) where employees became
committed to their ideas, showed to have substantially better rates of
implementation than those of ideas placed into suggestion box systems.
Thus, the FFE team should strongly consider the level of commitment and who is
committed to an idea when selecting ideas for development (Montoya-Weiss &
O’Driscoll, 2006).

3.3.4.8. Newness of the Ideas


Some companies are biased toward new ideas, but old ideas are also useful and
still hold great value (Vandenbosch, Saatcioglu, & Fay, 2006). Again a new idea
was defined as one which is new to the company as a whole. For example, in
organizing the idea banks by newness of ideas, one may uncover there is a lack
of old ideas being proposed and being analyzed. Or conversely, one may find out
that idea generation activities are producing old similar ideas and not enough
new ideas. Hence, having a map of the newness of ideas in the idea bank can
show front end practitioners where extra work is needed.

3.3.4.9. Controlling Storage and Categorization


There are two hypothesized ways to control storage and categorization: (1) the
method of storage and categorization, and 2) being the execution of storage and
categorization. There are several ways to store ideas as mentioned above, some
are formal and some are informal. Regardless of the method chosen or what is
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stored one must look at the main functions of the idea storage, which is a) to
store idea and opportunities, and b) to retrieve ideas and opportunities.
Viewing it in that light, one can see it is important to quickly store and
retrieve idea and opportunities. But this must be balanced against the need for
formality, and how much detail should be captured. So again, if the idea is for
and mechanical device much more info may be required than and idea for a new
customer group.
Interestingly, the quickest way to retrieve stored idea is through idea
management software programs; whereas, some of the quicker ways to store
idea can be via paper documentation methods. The benefits of idea management
software are that ideas can be easily appended to, and modified, as they
processed through development.
Categorization does take some energy especially if ideas are stored in a
paper form. Again, idea management software have major benefits because
categorizations can be quickly drawn up, edited, compared, and reviewed, on
many systems at once. When selecting the method of categorization one should
keep at minimum a few consistent categories so the results of the idea stored in
the bank can be compared overtime.
Again, the selection of the proper categories depends upon the business
but in general the categories which should be used are: level of development,
newness of the ideas, innovation category, disruptive versus incremental, and
idea driver.

3.3.4.10. Control the Execution of Storage and Categorization


Yet again, the system being used makes a huge difference in the amount of
management effort spent on storage and categorization. Computer software
systems can quickly store and retrieve ideas, but must be managed for uptime.
Conversely, paper systems may require a secretary to fetch the documents, and
management may have to take time to train and monitor the performance for
these tasks.
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Similarly, computer systems can perform categorization according to their


programming, and may provide resulting maps of ideas by category in the idea
bank very quickly. However, categorization in paper based system may be much
more tedious, and require much management to insure ideas are correctly
categorized. The amount of management required for any idea storage and
categorization system should be known at the time of implementation or
purchase.

3.3.5. Process Check and Feedback


As mentioned in the section on controlling idea generation, feedback on the
generated ideas is critical to improving the idea generation process, and idea
capture. Hence, the process check is a quick analysis to see if a) the ideas being
created by the ideas generation process are meeting their preset goals or b)
the ideas being captured from external sources are meeting the preset goals
set for capture of external sources.
For example, if the chief innovation officer (CIO) sets an objective of
generating twenty plus disruptive ideas and capturing twenty plus disruptive
ideas from outside sources. The company then goes off and generates ideas and
captures ideas from outside sources. The feedback from these activities shows
the company has created four disruptive ideas and captured twenty plus
disruptive ideas from outside source. The CIO then knows they need to rework
their current internal idea generation process.
As shown in the Section 3.2 “control model for idea generation”, the
process check “feedback” was placed at the end of that process. However,
because in this model, idea generation and idea management are combined, it
makes perfect sense to combine the process check into idea management
section. Hence, the process check function was placed after the storage and
categorizing not before it because, (1) the ideas are in a more permanent form
for a process check; and (2) one does not have to worry about the process check
blocking the storing of ideas.
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Controlling the process check to some degree depends on the systems


being used. Software idea management systems allow quicker access to ideas,
and analysis results can be tagged to a group of ideas which were created
through a particular set of idea generation activities. Hence, it make be quicker
and easier to use and idea management software for large groups of ideas.
Paper based process checks are still imagined to be effective, as long as the
individuals managing idea generation understand how their strategies are
affecting the outputted ideas.

3.3.5.1. Controlling the Process Check via the Selection of People


The people performing the analyses were shown to be a major factor in the
quality of the analysis performed. Steven, Burley, & Divine (1999) uncovered that
certain personality types enjoyed analyzing and distributing new ideas while
others quickly tired of this task. Their insight was that certain people are really
pre-disposed to this task and they would resemble a person like a technologists
who loves looking at new technologies, analyzing them, and talking about them,
or the business analysis guy who loves looking at and talking about new
business ideas. Hence, one should look for these personality types when
selecting individuals for the process check task.

3.3.5.2. Controlling the Execution of the Process Check


Like any process, the process check analysis must be monitored and feedback
must be given to the appropriate parties. Accountability can be created by
allowing the individuals who manage the idea generation process to hold those
individuals performing analysis and providing feedback accountable for their
reports and their quality.
Again, the process check analysis is not supposed to be detailed, it is a
quick overview to see if the ideas being generated by the idea generation
process are meeting their pre-set targets. Hence, if the initial goal is to create five
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disruptive product ideas, and it actually produces five incremental service ideas
the individuals managing idea generation can be informed quickly over the
phone, a detail report is not needed. One should not over complicate the
analysis, just get the rough info to the idea generation manager quickly, so they
can learn and refine their processes.

3.3.6. Diffusing and Routing


Diffusion is the act of spreading the ideas and opportunities through the
organization, and routing is sending a particular idea or opportunity to the most
relevant individuals. Diffusion was highlighted in the innovation value chain
model; however, diffusion in is this model is slightly difference. Diffusion here is
the act of taking anything from a rough idea to a developed concept and
spreading it around the organization so that a) future development projects can
be created from it or b) current or future development projects can be aided by it.
Again, to reiterate, ideas can be a) used directly with little or no
modification, and or b) can be modified to suit the needs of the company, and or
c) can be used to seed people inside the company with stimulus (see Figure
3.24).

Figure 3.24. Idea Management Feeding Idea Back into Idea Generation to
Stimulate more ideas
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With this view, diffusing ideas does not only have to be about getting an
idea accepted as a project as mentioned by Hardagon, & Sutton (2000). As well,
there is value to having non-perfect ideas in the idea banks. To illustrate, that
ideas can be used to seed individuals in idea generation activities, this model
had a link linking diffusion to idea generation. However, before going into detail
about how to control diffusion, we discuss theories of diffusion. This research
views two distinct types of diffusion one being a) forced diffusion, where an
individual or group (internal or external) is pushing the idea through the
organization, and b) sought diffusion, where individual activity seeks new ideas.
The best example of forced diffusion is the executive product champion,
who uses every means possible to spread his idea through the organization. This
individual uses memos, speeches, conferences, meetings, emails, and face-to-
face communication to get his idea out to individuals in his organization. There
are other means of forced diffusion, like companywide memos, idea fairs, idea
discussions, promo video of idea, posters of new ideas, and so on. The many
ways they differ from each other is the amount of power they have to diffuse and
idea. Hence, to demonstrate this better the researcher has created a diffusion
power spectrum, Figure 3.25.

Figure 3.25. Diffusion Power Spectrum


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Note that ideas can be diffused by internal or external sources, so a large


competitor launching a new product has a lot of power to diffuse that idea to
other companies. Sought diffusion is different than forced diffusion because, here
an individual is seeking out the idea, not having it forced on them. This can entail
anything from and individual requesting ideas of others, scanning periodicals or
media, or searching databases or the internet for ideas or opportunities. Sought
diffusion is a different mindset than forced diffusion because of its structure.
Sought diffusion is allowing access to tools and resource which would
enable an individual to seek and find ideas relevant to their needs. The fields of
knowledge management and Informatics have shed much light on the way to
enable individuals to seek and find information. For example, GE and Mckinsey
both have elaborate knowledge management systems which would allow
individuals to access an expert, find relevant knowledge, or get solutions to
particular problems.
Hence, a company can create systems, tools, and resources which would
allow individuals to more quickly find ideas. It is hypothesized that company
culture has some effect on sought diffusion. This is because it requires a different
mindset, “I will find an idea”, instead of, “I will wait till an idea comes to me.”
Regardless of culture, structures and systems can be put in place to enable
sought diffusion.
For example, expert directories allow employees to search out relevant
experts and ask for new ideas which are relevant to their needs. Also, idea
management software enable employees to search the idea banks for ideas
relevant to their needs. IDEO’s Tech box, allow employees to physically search
for materials and products which could seed their idea generation activities. Idea
conferences allow individuals to talk about ideas and opportunities.
Unfortunately, no data exists on which types of diffusion are taking place
in companies or if sought or forced diffusion is more prevalent. Nonetheless, the
best strategy is to enable both forced and sought diffusion to occur.
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3.3.6.1. Controlling via Methods of Diffusion


There is great value in forcing the diffusion of select ideas in the organization,
and enabling systems and tools so sought diffusion can occur. To aid
practitioners in selecting methods which could be applied to their company, this
research offers a rough table of possible methods of diffusion.

Table 3.3. Diffusion Methods, Forced, and Sought Diffusion

Diffusion method Referance


Internal Force Diffusion
Executive product champion
product champion
Idea fairs & conference (3M) Hardagon & Sutton (2000) & (1997)
Weekly new idea session
Idea promo video Hardagon & Sutton (2000) & (1997)
Idea posters
Internal Idea blog
Idea newsletters
Idea booklets, catalogues
Idea memos, emails, calls, mail
Idea retreats
Passive Forced diffusion methods
Work space design Kelley & Littman, (2005)
Community areas (free coffee bars) Kelley & Littman, (2005)
After work get together Kelley & Littman, (2005)
Online idea forums or news groups Kelley & Littman, (2005)
Internal sought diffusion
Expert networks
Idea management software
Idea databanks
Recommended list of databases
Recommended list of search resources
Idea booklets, catalogues

3.3.6.2. Controlling Diffusion and Routing via Selection of People


Networking theory has shown that some people inherently like to distribute
information (Facilitators). In addition, some people like to distribute ideas. The
point can be quickly made, if one imagines the archetype technologist talking
relentlessly about the newest inventions, technologies, and product ideas.
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Kelley, & Littman (2005) explained in detail that some individuals like
discussing new ideas and things they learned. They termed these people,
“Cross-Pollinators” and dedicated an entire chapter to them. They also assert
that not everyone likes this role.
Hence, it is easy to see that some people are much more inclined to be
good at distributing ideas and opportunities around the organization. Formally
assigning this task and providing them with the power to execute it can greatly
increase the degree to which ideas are distributed through the organization.
Allowing these individuals to select and conducted via any of the diffusion
methods from above will also help diffuse ideas across the organization.
A sign of an individual great at diffusion is that they can name off relevant
products, technologies, inventions, ideas, and show you were to go to learn more
about them, and they enjoy talking about this to others.

3.3.6.3. Controlling the Execution of Diffusion


Again, one must differentiate among forced and sought diffusion. Not everyone
needs to know about every idea in the idea bank; they only need to know about
the ones which are relevant to them at that particular time. As Hardagon & Sutton
(2000) showed their “idea brokers” distributed ideas in a just-in-time means to
solve problems relevant to the individuals they were helping.
However, Kelley, & Littman (2005) stressed that “Cross-Pollinators”
should spread ideas regardless of whether or not there was a need. Hence, one
can measure the effectiveness of forced diffusion by looking at the effectives of
a) getting idea solutions to people who have problems, b) spreading new or
useful ideas around the organization to the relevant individuals.
Opinions and metrics can be used to manage diffusion. If the development
team members feel they are not getting exposed to enough new ideas, then
possibly forced diffusion maybe failing to work. In addiction, measuring the
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number of events where new ideas are forced out and the number of people they
are distributed too can also give an indication of the effectiveness of forced
diffusion.
For sought diffusion, opinions and metrics can also be used. If employees’
feel they do not have access to easy methods of finding new ideas, then possibly
sought diffusion maybe failing-to-work. Also, if metrics on items like searches in
the idea banks, or use of expert networks are low, then sought diffusion may not
be used effectively.

3.3.7. Routing
Routing ideas is also an affective way to deal with this bias. Christensen
and Raynor (2003) proposed that disruptive ideas should be developed in
separate organizations. Similarly, Lockheed Martin is famous for their use of
skunk works to develop radical airplane concepts. By using idea management to
route disruptive idea to proper development groups like skunk works, internal
incubators, or spin-of-companies the company’s internal bias toward disruptive
ideas can be avoided. Similarly, by having market-driven ideas routed to the
marketing department for development can again overcome another company
bias.
The concept of routing ideas to the appropriate parties based on tagged
information is especially powerful for ideas of different innovation categories. For
example, a customer experience idea possibly should be routed to the customer
service department; whereas, a branding idea should be routed to the marketing
department.
Having a routing system also allows each particular department to have
their own idea bank, which can be linked to a company-wide idea bank. It is
imagine this could be rather easy, for example an employee may notice a
competitor using a new branding technique. That employee would then write-up
the idea, tags it, and then it is automatically routed to the marketing department
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by the idea management team. Additionally, tagging and routing also allows for
accountability in the front end of innovation because of the increase visibility
associated with the process.

3.3.7.1. Controlling via the Method and Execution of Routing


There are several methods of routing ideas, and they resemble the methods of
routing information. First, ideas and information can be routed to a particular
individual, group, or department. Second, ideas can be routed via email, memo,
document, meeting, or any other method of conveying information.
Additionally, Hardagon & Sutton (1999) suggest that “idea-brokers” route
ideas to the relevant individuals. Hence, the act of routing could be a formal task
assigned to a group of individuals. Interestingly, idea management software
could also be programmed to automatically route ideas to particular individuals in
a company. However, there is a benefit to having a personal idea-broker who
knows your needs and present the most relevant ideas at appropriate times.
As mentioned for diffusion, opinions and metrics can be used to manage
the execution of routing.

3.4. Linking Idea Banks to Portfolio Management


Similarly, idea banks and idea management can be linked to early portfolio
management. Typically companies determine their current portfolio of projects by
assessing the projects in the NPD process and commercialization process. Also
they determine their options for projects, by assessing the projects in the FFE
ready to move into the NPD process as shown by Figure 3.26.
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Figure 3.26. How Portfolio Management Determines Options for New Projects

Interestingly, by assessing the ideas in the idea bank product portfolio


managers can get an earlier understanding of options for their portfolio (Figure
3.27). As well, by analyzing the ideas in the idea bank, portfolio managers can
get a better understanding of the weakness in their company’s innovation
processes. Finally, portfolio managers can also selectively force fuzzy front end
processes to develop ideas particular for gaps in their portfolio.

Figure 3.27. How Assessment of Idea Banks can be Used by Portfolio Managers
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Figure 3.28. Late FFE Activities Linking to Screening and Filtering


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CHAPTER 4. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

4.1. Purpose of Study


The purpose of this study is to answer the research questions as follows. First,
can the proposed control model aid in a conceptual understanding of idea
generation and idea management and, second can this control model be
supported as capturing the required factors needed to manage and control idea
generation and idea management?

4.2. Limitations Effecting the Selection of the Type of Study


Prior to discussing the study the factors limiting the study must be elaborated on.
This will greatly help in the selection of the appropriate study type and
methodology.

4.2.1. Lack of Metrics for Success in Idea Generation


Unfortunately, the lack of understanding of successful outcomes for idea
generation and idea management limits the number studies that can be perform
to support the research questions. The recent article by Hüsig & Kohn (2003),
had to go to great efforts to develop a set of criteria which they could measure
the success of front end activities. Unfortunately, neither idea generation nor idea
management has any metrics defining successful outcomes. As mentioned in the
previous chapter the output of the idea generation process can be generally
measured in: 1) the quality of ideas, 2) the quantity of ideas, and 3) the attributes
of ideas.
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Unfortunately, one company’s definition of successful idea generation can


vary greatly from another’s, and often vary based on that company’s needs and
situation. This researcher’s primary research has show that Siemens’ Power
Generation Division goals for idea generation are based on a quantity metric;
whereas, design firms like IDEO considers quality of generated ideas as being
most important (Kelley & Littman 2005). Finally, some companies consider
creating ideas of a very specific set of attributes (financial potential, feasibility,
required resources, and so on) as being a successful outcome of idea
generation.
Now, one way to test a control model is through the application of controls
and the monitoring of outputs. If the given control produces the required
successful output then the model is supported as useful. In a process, like
manufacturing, where quality is the main output this is a relatively straight
forward. However, for a process like idea generation where the outputs are so
variable and dependent upon a huge variation of needs, testing the impact a
control has on the output is tremendously more complicated, and may be to a
large degree futile because of the large interdependency amongst the control
variables.
Hence, the standard approach of testing control variables against their
outputs may help support this control model for a small set of instances, but will
not provide the needed evidence to support it broadly as a means of controlling
idea generation.
As for idea management, the process is so poorly understood that besides
not having models to describe its basic functions, there again is no metrics
describing successful idea management. Hence, a similar argument can be
made against doing causal studies to support specific control variables for idea
management.
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4.3. Study Type Which Will Not Be Used


The goal of this section is to make a rational argument for the selection of the
survey and interview based studies, by showing that the other optional studies
are inadequate.

4.3.1. Observational Based Support Studies


There are more limitations and downsides to conducting an observational study
than benefits. Observational studies are not going to be chosen for this research
because it:
• Is not economical and can be inefficient
• Will not allow the author to obtain a large enough sample size
• Requires extensive time to conduct

Additionally, because there are no particular behaviors which are trying to be


uncovered, examined, or validated, there is little need for an observational study.
Additionally, practitioners will accurately self-identify their current management
practices through tools like interviews or surveys. As a result, verifying this via
observations is redundant and inefficient.

4.3.2. Application Based Support Study


Testing this model was excluded from the research options because to truly test
a control model it must be applied in practice. This would require a company to
use the model to control their idea generation activities. Several companies have
expressed a willingness to implement this model; however, due to the time
required to gather results it will not fit within This researchers expected
graduation dates. Finally, application to a small set of companies will not provide
the evidence needed to support this model across industries. For these reasons,
an application based study will not appropriate.
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4.3.3. Laboratory Testing Base Support Study


Although, laboratory base tests are a common means to supporting a control
model, the author does not feel it would provide the needed support for this
study. First, practitioners will not see a laboratory reproduction of the idea
generation process as being an accurate representation of idea generation in
their companies, and often they scoff at laboratory studies. Again this is because
of the large disconnection between the complex worlds of actual business and
the idealized laboratory environment.
Finally, it is extremely difficult to reproduce the specific and changing
needs of a company, and the pre-set conditions of the business environment in a
laboratory setting. For example, asking a group of random individuals in a lab to
generate ideas for new cell phone technology will not accurately reflect a group
of telecommunication engineers with years of design experience producing ideas
in their own company environment. Hence for these reasons, laboratory tests will
not be performed.

4.3.4. Analysis of Secondary Research


Unfortunately, a secondary research study cannot be conducted because there is
no existing quantitative data on companies’ idea generation processes, practices,
or behaviors. Only, a few case studies on a company’s idea generation process
exist. Thus, the data must be generated through primary research.

4.3.5. Interview Based Support


Interviews will be used to support this model, however due to the limitation in
sample size they cannot be the only means of support. Additionally, interviews
can give detailed case examples of how companies manage idea generation and
idea management. However, interviewing requires substantial time and
resources if done over a large sample. Thus, interviews can be used in this study
but must be augmented with data from other supporting studies.
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4.3.6. Electronic Survey Study


A survey based study was chosen as the primary research design for this study.
This research design is appropriate because:
o It is economical and efficient
o Can capture a wide target population
o Can generate quantitative and qualitative data on practices, perceptions,
and needs.
There are several additional reasons why a survey was chosen as the primary
study instrument. First, the survey will be able to determine the practices and
satisfaction of the respondents with respect to idea generation and idea
management processes over a large sample size. Second, a large set of data
showing other companies best practices will be viewed a creditable and provide
the supporting evidence needed to develop broad acceptance of this model.
Third, surveying of practices, perceptions, and needs will show
weaknesses in current practices which may need to be addressed. Hence, solid
data on these weaknesses will help raise awareness of a problem area, and will
aid in the adoption of new practices.
Finally, by having the large pool of supporting evidence across several
industries will help the board acceptance of this control model. None, the less
surveying alone has weaknesses which are it:
1. Will not show if additional points of control can be used
2. Will not show if the model produces understanding
3. Will not show if the model accurately represent the idea generation
process?
To eliminate these weaknesses, this study will be combined with interviewing. In
particular, additional missed points of control may be uncovered through
interviewing with practitioners and researchers. Supporting evidence that this
control model generates understanding can also be obtained through
interviewing of a small sample. Finally, the weakness of accurate representation
cannot be solved through this study, and must be addressed in future research.
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4.4. Parts to the Study


To strengthen the support evidence for the research questions this study has
been split into two separate studies.
1. A series of case studies based on three very different companies
2. A normative and correlative study using an electronic survey with over
thirty respondents

4.5. Study Part One


The case studies consist of three companies with mature product development
processes in different industries. First, the company’s sponsors were asked to
identify the top three individuals in the company responsible for or most
knowledgeable about idea generation and idea management practices.
These individuals were sent an online survey (see Appendix C) of which
they collaboratively answered. The surveys answers were reviewed by This
researcher and sets of questions were formulated for the individual interviews.
Interview questions were based partially on areas of strength and weakness
determined from the survey responses. Each of the respondents was interviewed
for 1 hour, in which pre-determined questions were asked as well as follow-up
questions. Other interview questions revolved around the following topics:
A) Current company situation and strategy
B) Market served by the company
B) Current practices for idea generation and idea management,
C) Current needs for the early front end of innovation
D) Level of satisfaction with their current idea generation and idea
management practices
E) Detailed examples for use of each point of control.
All information captured from the interviews and online surveys were analyzed
and transformed into three case studies with recommendations for
improvements. The information was analyzed with the help of this researcher’s
proposed model.
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As compensation for their participation the companies’ sponsors will


receive the case studies and associated recommendations in a written report and
is considered a pro-bono consulting job.
Case study companies were selected from a pre-known batch of large
mature companies which was already personally contacted, and selected to
show diversity of size, situation, and industry.

4.6. Study Part Two

4.6.1. Description of Part Two


The second part of this study was structured into three elements. First the study
consisted of a (1) small number of interviewees, and then move to a (2) small
pilot survey study, and then towards a (3) full survey study. This format is a
variation on the total design study recommended by (Dillman, 1978). The
interviews will be conducted for the following purposes:
1. Test to see if the control model develops understanding and satisfies
the first research question.
2. Obtain case examples of points of control at specific companies.
3. Uncover points of control which should be included in the model, hence
further developing the model.
The interviews were first conducted with two expert researchers (Michael
Menefee and Kenneth Kahn) who were shown the model, and asked about the
overall setup of the questionnaire. The recommendations were integrated into the
survey instrument. This helped refine the structure of the survey and reduce
possible measurement errors.
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Next, the survey was sent out in a small pilot study to four or five company
respondents. The purpose of the pilot study was:
• To uncover confusion in the survey’s questions
• To get a rough estimate of measurement error
• Do a preliminary analysis of the data to see if the obtained data categories
provided the needed information for supporting the model
This preliminary pilot study obtained 5 respondents, and the data obtained
showed of 0.6 Cronbach which is good reliability for such a small number of
respondents. Further, post interviews with respondents showed no confusion
from the survey’s questions.
Finally, the full survey was sent out and data was received over a two
month period. This researcher used two web seminars to develop interest in the
survey. The web seminars were hosted by RYMA technologies and discussed
the idea generation and idea management process in a one hour long web
presentation during which one minute was devoted to promoting This
researchers survey. The attendees were primarily managers with product
development responsibilities. The attendees (122 individuals) were then emailed
an invitation to take the online survey which resulted in the highest completion
rate.
Additionally, web posts inviting individuals ‘to take the survey’ were posted
on Linkedin.com’s “front end of innovation group” and “product development
group”. These had very low completion rates.

4.6.2. Description of Survey Tool


The survey tool will have three main parts: a) identification questions, b)
satisfaction questions, and c) current practice questions.
Identification questions will be: who they are, how much knowledge they
have of their companies practices, the company they work for, industry,
revenues, number of employees, and so on. This will help qualify the
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respondents as a reputable source of data, and provide data to compare


respondents and their companies. All published data will be de-identified from the
company’s and respondent’s names.
Unfortunately, the best dependent variable which could be selected was
the satisfaction based variable. Many research studies have shown satisfaction
to have a strong correlation with output and results because respondents innately
have a sense of what works and what does not and correlate their satisfaction
respectively.
Dependent quantitative variables such as number of ideas, revenues
generated per ideas, number of ideas captured from the employees, number of
ideas captured from outsides sources, average revenues per idea were noted in
the case studies to vary greatly between industries and company size. Further,
respondent’s accounts of these numbers were found to be totally un-reliable
because they did not keep track of these numbers.
Other dependent qualitative variables such as: quality of ideas generated
quality of ideas captured from employees, and quality of ideas in the idea bank,
were found to be highly objective and mostly unknown amongst interviewees of
the case studies, and hence were deemed totally un-reliable.
Unfortunately, amongst all the reviewed literature no articles were noted to
measure output of the idea generation or the idea management process, or even
link idea generation to development output such as: revenues, or new product
releases. Consequently, there were no dependent variables to build upon. Only
one article was found to have a correlation linking idea generation to marketing
information (Husig, Kohn, & Poskela, 2005). Due to these problems, the only
logical and halfway reliable dependent variable was that of “satisfaction.”
The respondent’s level of satisfaction was split up with respect to the
outcomes of their companies, a) idea generation processes, b) idea management
processes, and c) development process. This allowed one to draw valuable
correlations between levels of satisfaction and actual practices.
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Questions regarding current practices looked for points of control which


are currently in use in their business. This will develop the needed support for
each control point mentioned in the model. More interestingly, this will give a
general understanding of how much control is placed on a particular activity.
Current practice questions were broken up into amount, and frequencies and all
used a five-point Likert scale (never, rarely, some-times, most-of-the-time,
always, don’t know, NA). The survey can be seen in Appendix C.

4.6.3. Description of the Respondent Pool


RYMA solution community consisted of 50,000 members of which 90% product
development managers from companies all over the world. On average, 100
members read the blog daily, and over 150 members on average attend their
web seminars.

4.6.4. Data Analysis


This survey tool output all responses in an excel file format. Exported data from
the survey was automatically organized by the survey tool by respondent. The
analysis of the data was rather straight forward, and required comparing data by
respondent companies, industries, satisfaction, and so on. Graphs were created
showing results of the data, and all data were de-identified from the
respondent companies. Comparison and correlations were drawn, and
examined to determine statistical significances.
Normative data, graphs, and charts were created showing the current
practices and methods controlling the idea generation and idea management
process. Finally, this research shows the practices most associated with
satisfactory outcomes for idea management and idea generation. The resulting
data gave a strong base for future researchers to attack and make great strides
in idea generation and idea management.
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4.7. Human Subjects


For the purposes of this research, human subjects’ approval was sought and
obtained prior to the study’s commencements, as required by the Purdue
University, and consistent with current research standards. The study’s reference
number is 0808007117.
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CHAPTER 5. RESEARCH RESULTS

The following chapter presents the research findings for both the case studies
and the qualitative survey. The research findings are broken up into two sections
being: (1) case study results, and (2) quantitative survey findings, which each
section including a respective discussion and conclusion. The duel research
study approach would lend more support for the proposed model and help in
answering the second research question. The first research question was
answered in Chapter 3.

5.1. Summary of Case Study Results


These three case studies show distinctly different companies and their respective
idea generation and idea management processes. These companies provided an
adequate diversity, with the first company being a multinational large cap
company with products in every geographic market. The second being a small
cap company with products mainly in the US, and the third being a small
company marketing a new software technology to a pre-adoption marketplace.
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Table 5.1. Attributes of the Three Companies


Company Name Alpha Company Fairbank's Scales Cartêgraph
Company size Large Cap Mid cap Small
Employees 125,000 500 80
Revenues $5 billion + $100 mill + $30 to $50 mil
Product area Consumer Food products Scales - machinery Software management
Market Age Highly Mature Highly Mature Pre-adoption
Sells products to food retail Subscription based business
Business Model chains Product manufacturer model
Lack of capturing ideas from
Situation outside sources Need disruptive ideas Needs help crossing chasm
Have idea generation create
Major Broader perspective of ideas to help cross the
Recommendation Reorganization of process their business chasm

5.1.1. Benefits of the Case Studies


There was a great benefit to conducting these detailed case studies. First, the
detailed analysis allowed this researcher to probe deeper into the situation than
the simple online survey would have allowed. This probing uncovered company
situation and market age played a large role in all case studies. Further, the case
studies uncovered motivations and underlining issues which would not have
been picked up by the survey. Simply put the detailed analysis through
interviewing allowed for much more detailed analysis and a rich learning
opportunity.

5.1.2. Analysis of the Company


To aid in this analysis, company Alpha’s idea generation and idea management
practices were compared to this researcher’s idealized (Glassman Model) idea
management model. It was found that these comparisons allow the author to
quickly identify areas of weakness & strength and in detail and see how the
minor differences in their practices affected the overall process.
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5.1.3. Brief Summary of Each Case Study


In order to highlight the lessons learned, each case study will be summarized
and it’s associated lessons will be briefly discussed. Again, each detailed case
study is listed in the following section. Please note that each case study contain
recommendations made to the company’s sponsor which are interwoven into
body of each study. As mentioned previously, all companies were analyzed with
the assistance of the Glassman model.

5.1.3.1. Summary of Company Alpha


Company Alpha (de-identified) presented an interesting case of a large multi-
national with multiple dedicated research facilities. This case study focused only
on one of their research facilities located in Europe which concentrated on
developing food products: hot drinks, chocolates, coffees and employed 500
researchers. This R&D center had a 2007 $110 million R&D budget.
This research center had great difficulties in capturing, storing, and
diffusing ideas generated by their large number of employees. Unfortunately,
researchers did not use the idea management software offered by the company
because it was cumbersome and lacked major features. The main lesson learned
here was that an effective idea management software system is needed for idea
management inside of large companies which handle large number of ideas.
Second, the company only practiced a limited range of idea generation
activities and did not conduct any more beneficial idea generation activities
involving customer research. This major error was found to limit the number and
quality of the generated ideas.
Third, the company did not capture or accept ideas from outside sources
being: partners, suppliers, customers, inventors, or universities. Because of the
size and visibility of the company they could easily receive many dozens of ideas
per day. Not the having means to capture ideas from these sources was an
error.
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5.1.3.2. Summary of Fairbanks Scales


Fairbanks Scales is a small capitalization company with revenues around $100
million, and 500 employees, of which only 16 are involved in R&D. Fairbanks
Scales strictly produces scales and weighting equipment.
Interestingly, their strict adherence to the “scale” concept seemed to have
stalled their idea generation process. Their multiple markets for scale products
are highly mature and attempts by Fairbanks to generate “scale” ideas for these
very saturated markets resulted in fruitless ends. As a result, Fairbanks Scales
rely interiorly on capturing ideas from a multitude of sources: partners, lead
users, customers, suppliers, universities, and on.
To avoid stalling the idea generation process, this researcher
recommended (based on Levitt’s Marketing Myopia article) that they broaden
their strategic view to “being in the business of providing assurance and
information on any physical attributed” instead of “being in the business of
making scales.” In addition, this research recommended that they look at the
whole job process of their customers so they can generate product ideas which
integrate other functions and functionalities in addition to weighing. For example,
a potato chip bagger can also integrate a scale into one machine to assure the
proper product weight.
Associated idea generation activities were recommended based on this
larger strategic view and they should bring about many fruitful ideas.

5.1.3.3. Summary of CartêGraph


CartêGraph is the smallest company studied at $50 million in revenues and 100
employees and produces software management tools for local governments to
manage maintenance on items like: roads, streetlights, sewage pipes, and so on.
Interestingly, only 1% of local governments use software to aid in managing their
infrastructure, hence this technology can be considered a pre-adoption market.
Given the pre-adoption status of their market and that the bulk of their future
profits lie in the mass market adoption of this technology, this researcher thought
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it best if the idea generation activities focused exclusively on creating ideas


which specifically helped the mass market in adopting this technology. As well,
this researcher highly recommended integrating “crossing the chasm strategy” by
Moore into the strategy and development decision processes of the company
(Moore, 2003).
CartêGraph’s idea management process was very haphazard and many
recommendations were made for improvement. In all, it was interesting to see
how important it was to tie idea generation into the larger company strategy.

5.2. Case Study 1: Company Alpha

5.2.1. Background on the Company


Company Alpha (cover name) is a large company with consumer food products
in every major geographic market. Company Alpha’s R&D divisions are spread
out into individual R&D centers around the world. Because of the R&D center
approach, innovation efforts are decentralized which allow the company to
specialize in particular markets/country preferences. This study concentrated
only on one R&D center located in Europe, employing more than 250 workers
and with a R&D budget larger than 50 million.

5.2.2. Sources of Ideas for Idea Generation


Company Alpha always uses employees in idea generation activities.
Unfortunately, customers, universities, suppliers, independent inventors, &
partners are rarely asked to participate in these activities, and it is strongly
thought that efforts should be made to include these groups.
It is thought that the company’s use of social awards is a very weak way of
incentivizing employees to participate in idea generation activities, aside from the
activities which require participation. Handing out strong incentives like larger
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monetary, tangible, and much more publicized social incentives would be much
more effective in creating participation in idea generation activities and events.
Food was found to be an incentive boosting attendance, but it was unclear if this
aided in active participation in the idea generation exercises. The company may
find the total cost associated with these incentives initially high, but respectively
they may be low per idea.

5.2.3. Events and Activities Used to Generate Ideas


Employees are the main group that participates in Company Alpha’s idea
generation events, which mainly entail a short half day brainstorming session.
Unfortunately, more effective idea generation activities like: contextual /
ethnographic research, lead user innovation, portfolio analysis, and blue ocean
strategies were not mentioned to be used. There is clearly a very strong need for
idea generation activities which generate ideas from a depth of consumer
understanding, like contextual / ethnographic research.
It was also found that company Alpha has no or very few customers
participating in idea generation activities; hence, there is a very strong need for
customers to participate in idea generation. Interviewees mentioned in-house
customer focus groups are used; however, research has shown that these are
not as effective in extracting ideas from customers as other activities, and in
many cases merely extract opinions and preferences.
More valuable ideas and opportunity areas can be uncovered by holding
sponsored events like idea competitions (Pillsbury’s bake-off), idea fairs (recipe
fairs), and ethnographic / contextual research studies. This researcher strongly
feels that money should be put into sponsoring, hosting, promoting, and
incentivizing these events with awards and prize money. This has been shown to
be effective in generating new ideas in the food products category, as well as,
has helped increasing consumer loyalty (Stach, Lonsdale, & La Venka, 1992).
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Intellectual property concerns should not be a factor for these public


events, mainly because patents are a weak form of protection in the food
industry. Also the benefits of finding new opportunity areas, like finding a need for
longer-keeping ice-cream, are much greater than the IP risks.
In-house competition and idea fairs use only employees are a great way
for the company to build their expertise in holding these events. As well, in-house
competitions can be conducted for a minor cost and does not have the
intellectual property issues or liability issues of a public event.
During the brainstorming sessions the company seemed to offer
participants adequate resources; such as, samples from the competition,
competitors TV commercials, magazine ads, paper, pencils, whiteboard space,
and food to eat as snacks which seems to provide a substantial incentive to
participate. Without too much more effort the company could use more effective
idea generation activities like: 6-3-5, visualization experiments, scenario
activities, experimentation activities, during the time used for the traditional
brainstorming session. Additionally, any customer site visits should be combined
with idea generation activities so more value can be extracted from the visit.
Interestingly, employees usually did not scan the idea database prior to
attending idea generation activities. This leads this researcher to believe there is
a need for more idea seeding activities taking place prior to the idea generation
activities. Hence this researcher would recommend employees perform some of
the following activities prior to participating in an idea generation session:
scanning the idea database, reviewing new competitor ideas/products, attending
conferences (if possible), review trends affecting the food industry or the
consumers food preferences, review market research reports. Other seeding
activities like food fairs where employees show off new food ideas in a close
internal forum (say once every 6 months) are a fun, effective, & low cost way to
seed ideas across the research center’s employee base (Hardagon & Sutton,
2000).
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5.2.4. Screening Ideas upon First Submission


Screening of ideas usually is applied correctly at Company Alpha, with ideas
being submitted to team leaders or project directors and then screened using a
strategic screen before being entered into the idea database. The decision
results of the screen are a) yes store idea, b) hold idea, & c) reject idea, and
usually are performed by the employee’s team leaders.
The innovation support officer mentioned that some ideas may be rejected
for technology feasibility reasons, this is a mistake First because the first screen
is strategic not technical, and Second because the technically infeasible ideas
may become feasible in the near future or are unknowingly feasible, and should
be stored in the idea database and used as seeding ideas.
Proctor & Gamble showed that many good ideas should not be limited by
technical feasibility, for example they had the idea of printing words and funny
phrases on potato chips but no clear way of doing so. After soliciting their
solution network it was found that a company in Italy had the technology to make
this idea technically feasible. If the first screen was a technical screen, this
valuable idea would have been lost.
Hence, ideas which are technically infeasible but strategically appropriate
can be accepted, but it is recommended that they be tagged and stored in the
idea database as technically infeasible this way the can be revisited or
researched further in the future, as well as be used as a seeding idea in other
idea generation activities.

5.2.5. Capturing Ideas from Internal and External Sources


There are several major issues associated with capturing ideas and formally
placing them in the idea database which are severely limiting this activities
effectiveness, being: (1) energy required to capture an idea, (2) the lack of
functionality of the idea management software, and (3) the limitations in feedback
associated with submitting an idea.
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All interviewees agree the act of capturing ideas is very weak and
consequently is severely hurting the “buy-in for the idea management system” at
their research center.
There are fifteen key people in the research center which are tasked with
capturing ideas. An idea may be submitted to these individuals in person, on
paper, over email, or directly entered into the idea management software which
is called “Accolades.” The idea coordinator receives the bulk of the submitted
ideas from these fifteen key people or other employees so that they can be
entered into the “Accolade” system or routed to the appropriate department
heads.
All individuals tasked with receiving ideas should be specifically trained
not to criticize ideas, and instead should talk and search for the valuable
parts/aspects of the idea with the submitter. Those points of value may later be
combined with other ideas to create a truly valuable product, and quickly judging
and idea looses that valuable information. For example, a poor idea like a hot
energy coffee drink with extra ginseng, was combined with the idea of a cold
coffee to make Rockstar Roasted coffee drink.
Interviewees mentioned employees do not like “Accolade” because it
takes too much time/energy to submit an idea, and would prefer to submit ideas
to their team leader for instant feedback or approval. Further the “Accolade”
system does not allow for pictures or attachments to be submitted with the idea.
Food products very much need visual representation; hence this researcher
deems this idea management software to be useless.
Finally, the software does not allow for feedback on the idea. This goes
back to prior research which mentioned the social & developmental benefits of
talking about ideas, prior to entering them into some type of idea management
system. Many newer idea management systems allow for feedback and
conversations to take place around an idea. The act of talking about and refining
the idea is a vital frontend activity and can be done over software or in-person.
Bean, & Radford (2002) talk about a free in-house coffee bar to make employees
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meet to talk about new ideas, and found it was effective. Accolade’s feedback
limitation also limits it usefulness. In all, “Accolade” severely limits the
acceptance of the idea management process inside this research center. Thus
other software solutions should be sought.

5.2.6. Sources Tapped for Ideas


Currently company Alpha is only capturing ideas from employees and is
unfortunately not receiving ideas from consumers, suppliers, partners,
universities, or independent inventors. Great efforts should be made to capture
ideas from consumers; however for this to occur, a large deal of companywide
decision making must take place.
Consumers must be aware that company Alpha is open to ideas, and for
this to occur the company’s websites, product packaging, customer service
representatives, and sales people must have mechanisms & processes to solicit
and capture ideas. Because of the difficulties associated with capturing ideas
from all consumers, it is recommended that company Alpha focus first on lead
consumer and thus approaches and solicits specialist clubs or groups for ideas,
like a chocolates cooking group which are pushing the boundaries of their craft
(Von Hippel, Tomke, & Sonnack, 1999).
Partners and suppliers are deemed much easier to solicit and capture
ideas from since they can be made to contact one person; however, they must
be properly incentivized. A generic licensing or royalty agreement should be
enough to entice patentable products, and an idea submission bonus should be
put in place for submission of justified opportunity areas. One noted method of
gathering ideas from a partner or supplier is to describe a problem area or
particular problem and request the partner to submit ideas. This was shown to be
effective in P&G’s open innovation network (Von Hippel, Tomke, & Sonnack,
1999).
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Interestingly, company Alpha has a detailed competitive intelligence


process which notes their competitor’s newest products; however, these product
ideas and opportunities areas are not being placed into the idea database.
Company Alpha noted intellectual property is a concern when accepting
ideas from outside sources. However, the IP process should be made to check
on the IP concerns for submitted ideas not limit the ability of the company to
accept ideas from outside sources. They have demonstrated limited IP risk in
their open innovation practices by restructuring their IP process to check IP
concerns throughout the process not to mitigate risks upfront as would be the
case in most companies. This goes back to the old adage “lawyers are not there
to make business decision.”

5.2.7. Tagging Ideas during Capture


The company is properly tagging ideas by recording upon capture “who created
them”, “when they were created”, and “who else participated in their creation”;
however, they are not capturing what “activities lead to the ideas creation.” This
is valuable because as more advance idea generation activities are used, the
ability to track which activities generate a particular idea will be very valuable in
selecting future idea generation activities and recording ROI for a particular idea
generation activity.

5.2.8. Storing and Categorizing Ideas


Currently, the idea management software “Accolade” is not allowing for effective
storing and categorizing of ideas. Ideas should be stored with pictures and other
media as mentioned. As well, categorizing of ideas is in-adequate. Ideas are
currently categorized by product category, exploratory, & technical. But this
researcher recommended that they should also be categorize by, date, batch
number, associated submitters, detailed source (consumer, partner, supplier,
employee), opportunity area, reviewed or not-reviewed, technical feasibility, and
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developed or not-developed. More categories help employees in quickly


reviewing ideas prior to participating in future idea generation activities, and help
the innovation directors to see where the gaps are in the idea database.

5.2.9. Process Check Used to Improve the Idea Generation Process


Luckily this company’s research center has at least three individuals dedicated to
refining and improving the idea generation and idea management process. The
interviewees were mentioned to sometimes review the process based on the
outputted ideas. Ideally the open innovation director should review ideas
submitted during a period of time to see if the past changes had the desired
effect and if the idea generation activities are having a positive ROI. These
reviews would be best made every 4 or 6 months.

5.2.10. Diffusing Ideas to Employees inside the Company


Again there are two reasons for diffusing ideas being: (1) to get ideas to turn into
new product development projects, and (2) to use the ideas to seed employees
brains so they are more able to generate new ideas. At Company Alpha, much
work needs to be done in diffusing idea to employees. Sought diffusion (allowing
employee to freely scan the idea database) is mentioned by interviewee not be
effective since very few access the database. Employees in particular groups like
chocolates or hot beverages should be made aware of newly submitted ideas in
their area via forced diffusion. Force diffusion can be performed by email
notification of best ideas every week or month, or newly submitted ideas can be
diffused to employees in batches a mandatory bi-weekly meeting.
Further, a culture should be developed where ideas are sought from
internal and external sources and discuss frequently, the best way to start this is
to force lots of ideas on employees till they get used to discussing ideas on a
regular bases. The fifteen individuals responsible for receiving ideas in this
research center should be also responsible for distributing these idea emails or
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idea memos to respective employees. Routing of ideas is being performed


correctly by the idea coordinator and seems to be the only way which ideas are
currently being distributed.

5.2.11. Comparison with Measures of Satisfaction


The satisfaction variables in the survey were compared across the three
interviewees and it was found that their opinions differed. The minor differences
were mainly due to the responsibility areas of the interviewee and knowledge in
that area, for example the open innovation officer was dissatisfied with their
ability to capture ideas from outside the company, whereas, the idea coordinator
had a neutral opinion on this matter. The results for the satisfaction variables are
shown in tables 5.2 and 5.3 below. Note number 1, 2, 3, are the number of
interviews which responded at that particular level of satisfaction for the given
question.

Table 5.2. Idea Generation Satisfaction Variable Results for Alpha


Satisfaction Variables Very Dissatisfied Neutral Satisfied Very
Dissatisfied Satisfied
1. Quality of ideas 3
2. Number of ideas 1 2
3. Generating idea with a 1 2
specific set of attributes
4. Time for generating ideas 2 1
5. Ability to fill frontend portfolio 3
6. Overall idea generation 3
process

Interestingly, overall satisfaction with the idea generation process (being


dissatisfied) was much lower than the dependent satisfaction factors mentioned
above. This initially led the author to believe the first five factors are not
substantial factors in determining overall satisfaction.
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Table 5.3. Idea Management Satisfaction Results Variables for Alpha


Satisfaction Variables Very Dissatisfied Neutral Satisfied Very
Dissatisfied Satisfied
7. Capturing ideas from 3
employees
8. Capturing ideas from outside 3
sources
9. Storing & capturing ideas 3
10. Amount, quality, & type of 3
ideas
11. Ability to distribute and route 3
ideas
12. Ability of ideas bank to fill 3
frontend portfolio

Interestingly, interviewees seem dissatisfied with three out of the five


activities in the idea management process. This researcher hypothesizes that the
interviewee’s satisfaction with the overall idea generation process is taking into
account factors which are associated with idea management. Since both idea
generation and idea management are very new areas of research with very new
terminology, it is reasonable to suppose that the interviewees consider idea
generation to include the factors 1 to 5 & 7 to 12. Hence, one can hypothesize
that above satisfaction factors can, in sum, correlate to overall satisfaction with
idea generation.

5.2.12. Late Front End Activities at Company Alpha


Through out the interviews, additional insights were gain into Company Alpha
Late Front End activities which are note worthy. Interviewees noted that after an
idea is captured and screened, the ideas are usually rushed to a second screen.
This researcher feels this is an error, because the ideas need time to be
developed before being placed in the second screen. Coopers Stage gate
process demonstrates this well. By looking at the Figure 2.9 and Appendix B one
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can see that ideas are scoped before the second screen, then have a business
case build for them and then proceed to a third screen. This insures that work is
put into the ideas to develop them and that proper kill/proceed decision are
made.

5.2.13. Recommendations for Late Front End Activities


To avoid ideas from being rushed into a second screen, this researcher
recommends some initial work be performed on raw ideas to turn them into more
refined concepts. This can be done by assigning a batch of ideas to a group of
researcher and requesting that 2 to 3 concept ideas be developed, regardless of
the quality of the ideas in the batch. This will force researchers to be more
creative and seek out better ideas from the idea database if their batch is full of
poor ideas.

5.3. Case Study 2: Fairbanks Scales

5.3.1. Background on the Company


Fairbanks Scales was established more than 150+ years ago has 500 employees
and creates scales of all types. Their scales range from small doctors scales all
the way to large truck scales, and they have 5000 product model variations and
over 100 scale product lines with all product lines being strictly scales or
weighting equipment.
The company has a typical centralized organizational structure, with sales,
service, manufacturing, development, and admin/finance departments all located
at the US headquarters. The development department has 16 engineers with 10
of those individuals involved in R&D, and a R&D budget of less than $2 million.
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Fairbanks Scales’ has a manufacture/sales business model and generates


additional revenues via servicing scales and 2007 revenues were $100 million +.
Technical details of their products will not be discussed because they were not
found to be relevant to the analysis of Fairbanks Scales’ innovation process.
The VP of development stated that Fairbanks Scales, as well as, the rest
of the scale industry has been waiting for the next major development in scales,
and consequently they have been actively looking for the next disruptive
technology, product, or major market application.’
Evidently, the scale markets are extremely mature. Case study evidence
and market theory shows that extreme segmentation only occurs in highly mature
markets. Evidence of market maturity is Fairbanks Scales’ highly segmented
product portfolio and the general age of the product markets many of which are
more than 50 years old.

5.3.2. Overall Situation & Broader Strategic View


Prior to discussing the details of the idea generation and idea management
process this researcher would like to discuss a larger and more urgent issue
which affects the greater innovation process at Fairbanks Scales. This section is
of interest to the CEO and board because it suggests a broader view of the
company’s strategy.
Research on Fairbanks Scales’ current markets and offerings and
interviews with the VP of engineering/development and director of development
have lead this researcher to “question if Fairbanks Scales narrow view of “scales”
as their core business will provide them with the required future growth?”
Aside from entering new major geographic markets like Asia, or South
America, growth will come mostly from developing new products for their
currently served geographic markets. As the VP of engineering/development put
it “we are looking for the next big thing.”
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This researcher’s initial thoughts were that Fairbanks Scales was narrowly
concentrated on developing “scales” for a highly mature and highly saturated
scale markets which has limited innovation opportunities remaining. In other
words, Fairbanks Scales had taken the scale concept, to what seems to be, the
current limits of the technology and customer needs for their currently served
geographic markets. Again, their extreme segmentation (130+ product lines &
1,500 product variations) and the multitude of application areas were evidence of
this thought. Reaching the application limits of any market is, in itself, an
accomplishment any company should be proud of!
There are many companies, existing both currently and in the past, which
have reached the limits of their current business applications and for the most
part have stalled in developing new products in categories like: pens, tables,
doors, windows, silverware, to name a few. Some product categories like “trolley
cars and horse carriages” have even been superseded and no longer exist. The
trick to getting unstuck in these instances is viewing product innovation through a
larger view, instead of a narrower product based view.
For example, trolley car manufacturer throughout 1800’s and early 1900’s
made tremendous value for their shareholders; unfortunately, they did not see
they were in the “business of providing transportation” and with the advent of
cars, & trucks, lost market share and now are in total obscurity. Hence, thinking
in line with your current product category can limit the company’s ability to
expand as famously noted by Dr. Levitt in his Harvard Business Review article
Marketing Myopia (Levitt, 2006).
Again Fairbanks Scales should consider it a great accomplishment to
have fulfilled their customer’s needs with regards to scales. Unfortunately, it
seems that Fairbanks has limited their development thinking purely to the “scale
concept.” Their manufacturing, engineering, sales capabilities and their
distribution channels would definitely allow them to expand outside of the pure
“scale” concept, into related areas.
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The lessons learned from Levitt’s Marketing Myopia article (read this
article listed on page one before proceeding) can be directly applied to Fairbanks
Scales. However, recent discussions of Levitt work mentioned that he neglected
company resources and core competencies in his theories. For example Kodak
saw the arrival of digital camera technologies but was unable to make the
transition successfully due to their lack of electronics knowledge.
Applying Levitt’s lesson to Fairbanks Scales one would have two new
perspectives on their products which will help them generate new products being
(a) broader view of their core business and (b) a broader understanding of how
their products fit into the job process

5.3.3. Adopting a Broader View of Their Core Business


As for (a), Fairbanks should understand that they are not in the business of
providing “scales” but actually in the business of ‘providing assurance and
information on a physical item.’ Again people don’t buy drills; they are buying the
ability to make a hole. Following this logic, Fairbanks has been ‘providing
information and assurance on “weight’ for a multitude of physical items for more
than a century through their scales.
Remember weight is only one physical metric of an item which a customer
may want information or assurance on. Here is a list of other aspects of a
physical item:
1. Number of items 7. Odors
2. Volume 8. Temperature
3. Dimensions 9. Pressure
4. Density 10. Orientation
5. Hardness 11. Integrity
6. Color 12. Item information (serial #)
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Take for instance a food quality assurance lab, in testing their food
products they weigh them, measure density, and in many cases test hardness or
taste. A small scale that weighs, counts average number, and measure density
and weight simultaneously may be valuable especially if it can be integrated
directly into a production line.
Similarly scales that can automatically measure dimensions & weights
may be valuable to some customers who must determine shipping costs or figure
out how to effectively pack a semi-truck. Hence, one can use the above list, and
a broader view of ‘providing assurance and information on physical items’ in
formal idea generation activities to create many new product ideas which would
build on the core strengths and sales channels of Fairbanks.

5.3.4. A Broader Understanding of How their Products Fit into the Job Process
Fairbanks should adopt a broader view of how their products fit into the larger job
process when generating ideas for new products. For example, the vertical
bagging machines shown in figure 1 below weighs but also bags and seals items
like food. This machine provides assurance that the correct portion size (by
weight) is dispensed but also performs the next step in the job process which is
bagging the product. Performing this additional step greatly increases the value
of the machine, and it is no longer just a scale but a larger and more valuable
piece of equipment.

Figure 5.1. Vertical Packaging Machine with Integrated Scales


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Hence, looking at the steps before and after the weighing in the job
process will help one generate more new product ideas. For example, look at a
ranch hand that is tasked with weighing cattle. First the hand must round up the
cattle and bring them home. Then the hand must read the cattle’s ear tag
number, put it on the scale, write down the weight, compare the weight to the old
weight (to assure the cattle is growing properly), then calculate the weight
increase, and release the heifer if it is the appropriate weight. If it is sick they pull
it aside to quarantine it so the veterinarian can check it out.
Thinking more broadly one can integrate the scale forward and backwards
into this job process and hence create a more valuable product. For example the
cow’s ear tag could be scanned by the computerized scales by a simple RFID
chip embedded in the cow’s ear tag or bar code printed on the ear tag. The
scale’s memory would then pull up the cow’s old and new weights. With this
information in the memory the scale could print out metrics valuable to the
rancher like, pounds gained, average pounds gained over last 3 scans, average
pounds gain per month, and so on. The scale could even beep loudly or marked
a cow with spray paint if it lost weight, so the rancher can inspect them or
quarantine them.
There is great value in looking at the whole job process and seeing how
weighing fits in, and then using that understanding to generate ideas. Best of all
these new product ideas should fit into the sales channels and build on the
strengths of the company. With these two new perspectives discussed, this
thesis moves on to details of the idea generation and idea management process.

5.3.5. Idea Generation


It was found that Fairbank Scales’ did not have a process for, or conduct any
activities for idea generation. More specifically, they did not hold idea generation
activities, host idea generation events, or select individuals to generate ideas.
This finding was confirmed among both interviewees, where one interviewee
mentioned “we conducted several brainstorming activities and found that they
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produced very mediocre ideas which were already present in our idea bank.”
Thus they stopped all idea generation and rely presently on capturing ideas from
internal and external sources.
This researcher hypothesizes that many companies experience similar
frustrations from a lack of success in idea generation. It is thought this is partially
due to a lack of expertise in effectively conducting idea generation activities. This
is understandable given the large gap in the literature on how to effectively
conduct idea generation activities.
In the case of Fairbanks Scales, it is even more likely that frustrations and
fruitless results would arise using the narrow “scale” concept to direct idea
generation activities especially given the maturity and saturation of the scales
markets.

5.3.6. Recommendations for Idea Generation


Again, it is recommended that Fairbanks Scales take a broader view of their
business so they can venture into related products and grow successfully. Their
narrow view of producing just “scales” has stalled all idea generation activities,
and it strongly felt that shifting perspectives, as elaborated on, will reinvigorate
the company’s idea generation process and produce worthwhile new product
ideas.
To do this, the new perspectives must be discussed and infused within the
larger company, being sales, service, engineering, and development. As well, the
intent for these new perspectives must also be discussed.
Next the management inside of Fairbanks Scales namely the VP of
engineering and development and the product development director must
familiarize themselves with the recommendations for the idea generation
process, namely because they will be the parties managing and conducting this
process.
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To generate ideas, Fairbanks Scales should use formal idea generation


events where a set of employees are assigned and required to generate ideas,
obviously the most observant and creative employees are preferable for these
activities. The exact mix and number of employees is based upon the selected
idea generation activities.
The VP of development/engineering desires large revenue ideas, which
can be classified as A) disruptive ideas or B) new opportunity areas. Strictly
speaking disruptive products are those which are set to supersede a preceding
product and utilize some major shift in function, technology, or use. For example,
flat screen TVs were a disruptive product when compared to tube televisions. A
new major opportunity area maybe a new application for a product like
integrating scales into medical beds or GPS for cars, where previously no
product or technology was filling the need.
One should note that the idea generation activities used to generate
disruptive or new major opportunity areas are much different than the activities
used to generate incremental product ideas. Hence, this researcher is
recommending idea generation activities which will primarily generate disruptive
ideas or new opportunity areas.
Table 5.4 shows a list of idea generation activities which fill the prior
mentioned goals, remember each activity requires a moderator or director who is
trained (self-training possible) on how to properly conduct that activity. Further,
the company should not spare budget on particular idea generation activities, for
this will greatly affect their output. Note that idea generation techniques are used
inside of idea generation activities. For example, a scenario games can be used
to augment a brainstorming activity; whereas, problem inventory analysis is a 1
hour long activity in itself.
As well, the list above shows several idea generation activities, and the
cost and time associated with each activity will vary based on that activity. It is
recommended that at least 3 to 5 activities (with one of them being a large
budget activity) be conducted per month till a sufficient number of new ideas and
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opportunity areas are discovered. Remember an opportunity area only highlights


a particular customer need, and that further idea generation activities should be
used to generate specific new product ideas which can capitalize on that
opportunity. As a result, many more than three activities should be conducted per
month if a valuable new opportunity area is discovered.

Table 5.4. Recommended Idea Generation Techniques and Activities

Idea Generation Techniques


Experimentation Measure, tests, validate, via physical, virtual, or thought experimentation
with the goal of confirming a hypothesis or gathering data
Charting and plotting Helps visualize unknown or un-seen relationships Use this technique in
problem inventory
analysis
Scenario games Create scenarios and play them out to their logical end
Adaption Adapting a solution, offering, or process to suit a companies need by
modifying it as needed
Reduction Reducing the amount, functionality, or features of a particular thing
Elimination Eliminating a particular, feature, attribute
Raise or increase Increasing a particular feature, attribute or factor above the norm
Division of parts Breaking up the whole into smaller and smaller features, functions, or
pieces
Perspective shifts Using a perspective or view to aid in generating new ideas
Removing boundaries Removing boundaries, and retesting base assumptions, do not assume
restriction unless strictly told
Detailed observation Looking closely at something, trying to understand every facet, function,
and behavior
Idea Generation Activities
Brainstorming Creating ideas in open discussion, (typically many techniques are Use hybrid using each
applied) one of the above
techniques
Contextual research See appendix B
IDEO process IDEO Idea Generation Process see appendix A
Job Mapping See the article “the customer centered Innovation map” on page 1
Hybrid- Brainstorming using techniques above and using the two (2) suggested
Brainstorming views on page 3 & 4
Customer Focus A collected group of individuals (customers) focused on giving feedback
groups on a particular product, service, or process
Problem Inventory Generating a list of negatives or problems with an offering, product, or
Analysis process, and then finding solutions to eliminate those negatives
Critical path mapping Graphically representing activities their duration and fining gaps and
problems with their flow

The list above also focuses heavily on activities which require customer
visits or observation of customer activities. This is because the company is
looking for areas where (1) they can provide additional assurance and
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information on physical items outside of weight, and (2) analyze the greater job
process to identify steps where they can add additional value. Not conducting
customer visits is a major error!
Innovation managers must keep in mind that employees are busy, and for
them to dedicate time to idea generation there must be an incentive in place.
Fairbanks’ did not have an incentive system for patents or new ideas; hence this
researcher recommends that using a $5K bonus for identifying a fruitful new
opportunity area, and $10K for new profitable products will help incentivize
employees. Additionally, having moneys awarded only after a new product hits
market launch will help motivate employees to do additional market research and
push possible wining products through the development process.

5.3.7. Screening of Ideas


Screening of ideas created from formal idea generation activities should be done
differently than ideas which are captured from internal and external sources.
Ideas created as a result of a formal activity should be submitted to one
individual inside the company, where a high level strategic and capability screen
is applied. For example, a contextual research activity may generate an idea for
integrating a dimension monitor into a production line weighing system, in which
case it would pass a strategic screen and a company capability screen. Note that
a feasibility screen was not applied.
Screening of ideas captured from internal and external sources should be
also done by one individual inside the company, but instead a capability screen
should be applied. One goal of capturing outside ideas is to identify new
opportunity areas, and using a strategic, or feasibility screen may inadvertently
throw away a valuable opportunity area.
As well, there is little harm in storing poor ideas, and turning down poor or
low quality ideas submitted by employees too promptly will make them less likely
to submit ideas in the future. For example, an employee may relay that a
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customer wants’ a very cheap scale for cooking. This may highlight a larger
opportunity which is integrating scales into kitchen appliances like microwaves.

5.3.8. Capturing Ideas from Internal and External Sources


Fairbanks Scales strength is capturing ideas from any source possible. The
survey shows that Fairbanks Scales always captures ideas from: employees,
customers, universities, external research labs, suppliers, consultants,
partners/alliances, in-direct competitors, independent inventors, & media
magazines by phone, email, in-person, or through the idea management
software. As well they monitor direct competitors for new product releases.
The large number of sources which they capture ideas from was confirmed to be
the result of a (1) strong need to obtain ideas for new applications, (2) the lacking
of an idea generation process, and (3) the lack of any one source providing an
adequate number of ideas.
One recommendation for improvement may be to further incentivize the
sources so that they can submit more ideas. This can be done with small royalty
agreements or bonuses to the submitters think of it as incentivizing someone
who refers you a customer. Additionally, the solutions group should advertise that
they can assist in developing ideas in-order to obtain more submissions.

5.3.9. Tagging Ideas during Capture


The company is tagging ideas by always recording upon capture “who created
them”, however, they sometimes record “when the ideas were created”, “who
else participated in their creation”, and “what activities lead to the ideas creation.”
Always recording this information is valuable because as more advance idea
generation activities are used, the ability to track which activities generated a
particular idea will be useful in selecting future idea generation activities and
recording ROI for a particular idea generation activity.
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5.3.10. Storage and Categorization


Fairbanks Scales refers to their idea database as an “Idea vault” and has a mix
of formal (software) and informal means (computer documents) for storing ideas.
Their idea management software is called “quick base” and can store images,
documents, and text. An interviewee noted that metrics and categories can be
added to help store and evaluate ideas.
This researcher recommended that Fairbanks Scales categorize ideas by:
date, batch number, associated submitters, detailed source (consumer, partner,
supplier, employee, …), opportunity area, reviewed or not-reviewed, technical
feasibility, developed or not-developed, and finally idea driver (technology,
market, customer, solution driven).
More categories help employees in quickly reviewing ideas prior to
participating in future idea generation activities, and help the innovation directors
see where the gaps are in the idea database. Finally, idea should be stored all in
one place, the idea management software or a document, not both.

5.3.11. Process Check Used to Improve the Idea Generation Process


Fairbanks Scales sometimes performs process checks on ideas and refines the
idea generation process as a result of these checks. Because all ideas will be
captured and screened by one individual (being idea manager) the act of
performing a process check becomes much simpler. By keeping a tally of the
results of each idea generation activity the idea manager can quickly discern
which activities are working and which are not, and modify the activities
accordingly.

5.3.12. Diffusing Ideas to Employees inside the Company


There are two reasons for diffusing ideas across the company: (1) to seed
employees with ideas so they can generate more ideas, and (2) to have an idea
developed and converted into a new product.
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Diffusing ideas across the company’s employee base will greatly help in
the awareness of new ideas and help in the generation of other ideas. Foster the
author of How to Get Ideas says ‘new ideas are a recombination of old ideas’, so
being aware of more ideas helps in idea generation (Foster, 1999).
Because of the company’s size, shorter monthly meetings with the larger
employee base of sales, services, and engineering employees should be used to
discuss new ideas and ask for input on each idea. Remember buy-in of the larger
organization may be required for a successful product launch and pre-exposing
them to ideas will help in absorption. Great efforts should be taken during these
meetings to insure an open atmosphere where ideas are welcomed and not
adversely criticized.
As well, an idea newsletter can be emailed monthly to the employee base
with a long list of new and popular ideas. This newsletter should also contain
reminders of incentives and upcoming idea generation events.
Because the development department is so small, it is assumed that a
decision to develop a new product will be determined solely by the VP of
development/engineering and director of product development. If the buy-in of
the board or other executives is required for development, diffusion of ideas to
those individuals should take place as those ideas progress.

5.3.13. Late Front End Activities


The VP of development/engineering has requested that other parts of the early
innovation process be examined and the following section is a result of that
examination. This researcher has determined that three major items should be
improved in the early innovation process (late front end of innovation being:
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1. Two separate processes should be created, where one should be used to


a) select, develop, and appropriate funds to new product ideas which are
exploring new opportunity areas, and the other should be used to

b) select, develop, and appropriate funds for new product ideas which are
filling a proven opportunity area (like an existing product line).

2. A skunk works team should be created to generate new ideas and quickly
explore the feasibility and opportunity those ideas offer Koen’s recent article
“Providing clarity and a common language for the fuzzy front end” differentiates
between new products which are for (Koen et. all., 2001):
1) Exploring a new applications or opportunity areas termed ‘exploratory’, and
2) Exploiting a known and proven opportunity.

Interestingly, Clayton Christenson highlights that larger company’s


process of selecting and prioritizing new product projects inadvertently prefer low
risk and high return projects, and mostly reject projects which are seeking to
explore new application areas which usually have unknown risk levels and
unknown returns (Christenson, 2003).
Hence, as Koen recommends there should be two different new product
development processes one for exploring new applications (like drilling for new
oil fields) and one for exploiting a proven area (like adding extra rigs to a proven
oil field). Both processes should include a means of A) evaluating, B) selecting, &
C) prioritizing projects for new products; however, the exploratory process should
be pushed toward rapid exploration and testing and not worry as much about
return on investment.
For example, consider a new product which can measure the density and
weight of a food item on a production line at the same. This new product idea
would be an exploratory idea because it combines a new feature unknown to the
company. In evaluating this new product idea traditional metrics like ROI and
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payback time should be forgone. Instead the idea should be evaluated on its’
ability to: a) expand the skill set of the company; b) stimulate a market reaction to
this new feature or product category, and c) its’ ability to uncover new market
applications or new opportunity areas.
Selecting exploratory ideas to continue in development can be done in
steps so to limit investment and risk. A first stage could be to gain market insight
by doing preliminary concept testing (helped by sales) and roughly determine
how the product may be engineered. The second stage may include two or three
preliminary mockups to demonstrate functionality and to learn which
configurations seem to be best. The third stage could be to push the products
into development.
Prioritizing exploratory new product ideas should be based on a future
vision for how these products may help the greater market and how they rate on
the prior mentioned metrics.

5.3.14. Skunk Works Team


To insure the exploratory process is absorbed into the organization a group
called the “skunk works team” should be responsible for executing ideas entered
into this process. This group should include two or three engineers, two or three
sales/marketing, and service employees. Individuals selected for this group
should be those which fundamentally love new products, talk about new
products, and are creative and observant. These individuals should be
incentivized with large bonuses (more than 10K for product successes), and
several of these members should participate in any idea generation activities
especially customer visits.
Further, these individuals if properly motivated will push exploratory
products through an often resistant organization, and quickly, test, evaluate,
experiment on, and iterate on these new product ideas. Remember, departments
like sales are often not motivated to sell a new and unproven small revenue
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product. Hence having a skunk works team pushing new exploratory products
through development, sales, and manufacturing will greatly help in exploratory
product successes.

5.3.15. Comparison with Measures of Satisfaction


The satisfaction variables in the survey were compared across the two
interviewees and it was found that their opinions were exactly similar. The
interviewees were “very dissatisfied” with the quality of their ideas because they
were primarily searching for large opportunities and were receiving incremental
ideas. This would relate to why they were “dissatisfied” with their ability to fill the
frontend portfolio as well.

Table 5.5. Idea Generation Satisfaction Variable Results for Fairbanks

Satisfaction Variables Very Dissatisfied Neutral Satisfied Very


Dissatisfied Satisfied
1. Quality of ideas 2
2. Number of ideas 2
3. Generating idea with a specific set 2
of attributes
4. Time for generating ideas 2
5. Ability to fill the frontend portfolio 2
6. Overall idea generation process 2

The inconsistency in their “satisfaction” in being able to generate ideas


with specific set of attributes, is strange and was attributed to a miss
understanding of the question as noted during interviewing.
Overall, “dissatisfaction” with the idea generation process seems to
correlate well to the depended variables 1 to 5.
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Table 5.6. Idea Management Satisfaction Results Variables for Fairbanks

Satisfaction Variables Very Dissatisfied Neutral Satisfied Very


Dissatisfied Satisfied
7. Capturing ideas from employees 2
8. Capturing ideas from outside 2
sources
9. Storing & capturing ideas 2
10. Amount, quality, & type of ideas 2

11. Ability to distribute and routing 2


idea
12. Ability of ideas bank to fill frontend 2
portfolio

Interviewees seem dissatisfied with four out of the six activities in the idea
management process. Obviously Fairbanks’ strength in capturing ideas relates to
high satisfaction in this area. The other factors 9 to 12 were listed as
“dissatisfied” and this researcher sees this as reasonable given the improvement
required in these areas. The “dissatisfaction” with the amount, quality, & type of
ideas in the idea bank and the ability of the idea bank to fill frontend portfolio is a
direct result of noted poor idea generation and the in-ability to capture disruptive
ideas from inside and outside sources.
In all Fairbanks was dissatisfied with the idea generation and idea
management process, and this was reasonable given the state of their process
as assessed by this researcher.
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5.4. Case Study 3: CartêGraph

5.4.1. Background on the Company


CartêGraph has around 100 employees and produces management software
which allows public governments (towns, cities, & counties) to managed things
like: public signs, streets, street lights, road markings, bridges, storm sewers,
waste sewers, water distribution, and public lighting. They were founded less
than 12 years ago, and are currently one of four major software producers for this
market. The combined customer based for local government asset management
software is small, at less than 1% of US local government entities, and thus can
be considered to be in a pre-chasm market (Moore, 2006; G. Moore, 2004). The
company is split into sales, service, marketing, product development, and
finance/admin with 30 employees roughly in development.
CartêGraph generates money via the subscription based business model,
and needs only a few customers to justify the ROI for investing in a new product.
Development times take any where from one month to seven months per product
line extension. Currently, 90% of product in their pipeline are: feature ideas
(1000+), and 2% being product line extensions, and another 8% being new
product lines. Technical details of their products will not be discussed because
they were not found to be relevant to the analysis of their innovation process.

5.4.2. Idea Generation


It was found that CartêGraph did not have a process for, or conduct any activities
for idea generation. More specifically, they did not hold idea generation activities,
host idea generation events, or select individuals to generate ideas. This finding
was confirmed amongst all four interviewees.
One interviewee noted that management were unclear how to conduct an
idea generation activity, and all interviewees noted that their company captured
enough ideas from customers, or customer service. Preliminarily, this researcher
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supposes that companies which capture adequate ideas through their idea
management process do not see a need for conducting an idea generation
process.

5.4.3. Technology Adoption


Obviously, not having an idea generation process is an error; hence this
researcher will recommend the following structure for the idea generation
process. First, the officers of the company should note that the bulk of their future
revenues will not come from releasing new products to their current customer
base (which is 1% of total market size), but will come from expanding their
customer based to new adopters of this technology.
For the company to effectively encourage the adoption of their new
technology across the broader local government market (i.e cross the chasm)
they must integrate future product releases in closely with mid-&-long term
strategies targeted at crossing the chasm.
For example, the personal accounting software market was taken across
the chasm by Inuit softwares. This was done by making the current accounting
softwares, which were very complex, difficult to use, and feature rich, to a more
simple, easier to use software with fewer features, and more elaborate help
guides. Inuit realized that for mass adoption to occur these changes had to be
made, and hence they adapted their idea generation process to output new
features, new products, and new product lines, which targeted the major factors
which they believed were required to cross the chasm.
Again, because Inuit was first to cross the chasm and effectively launch
into the tornado (which triggered mass adoption of their technology market) they
became the market share leaders and captured the lion share of revenues.
Moore again showed that the company first to market does necessarily win; it is
the company that gains market leadership during mass adoption (i.e. wins the
tornado) that wins market leadership in the long run (G. Moore, 2004).
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CartêGraph is in a similar position; interviewees noted they were in a pre-


chasm market (mass adoption has not occurred). Unfortunately, interviewees
were not aware of the major factors required to cross the chasm nor did they
have any market research to suggest what factors were required. One
interviewee took a guess that one factor was “ease of installation and
maintenance” because the current customers mentioned that installing and
maintaining servers was a very tedious process.
Thus, this researcher recommends that CartêGraph conduct a formal
research study, contacting prospective customers (pragmatic and conservative
customers not current customers) which have not adapted this technology yet,
and determine which major factors are needed for these customers to seriously
consider adopting this technology.
For example, contacting 20 pragmatic and 20 conservative customers
may reveal that the major factors required to adopt this software is: 1) no
installation requirements, 2) no new personnel requirements, 3) and up and
running in less than 2 weeks with training and support. These factors should
then be converted to measurable metrics which new products can be compared
to. For example installation times should be measured in hours and compared to
the uncovered metric for adoption which was noted by customers to be around 4
hours (half day installation).
Given this, CartêGraph should push a large percentage of its offerings
(say 30% of their product portfolio) toward meeting factors required to cross the
chasm. To achieve this, idea generation activities must be run to identify new
features, new products, and new product lines which can meet these factors.
Then after the company can confirm that one or two product lines have the major
factors required to force adoption, they should launch a large marketing
campaign targeted at forcing adoption for these product lines as described in
Moore (2006), G. Moore (2004).
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5.4.4. Types of Idea Generation Activities


Ideally, a small part of the idea generation activities should be put toward
generating new ideas for the current customer base; while the bulk of the
activities should be dedicated toward generating ideas toward meeting the
factors needed to cross the chasm. This requires the idea generation activities to
be more problem solving based and use normative creativity patterns.
Idea generation activities should be held once to three times a week, at
least 1 hour long each, and reduce in frequency when a sufficient set of solution
ideas are obtained. Creative employees from marketing, sales, engineering, and
support and some customer groups should be required to participate in idea
generation activities, at least 10 creative employees per department. Incentives
such as reduced future or free subscriptions should be given to prospective
pragmatic customers for their participation.
This researcher has recommended a long list activities and techniques
which should be conducted to provide new features, new products, or new
product lines which meet the factors required to cross the chasm. See the list of
recommended idea generation activities and techniques below. Note techniques
are used inside of activities, for example a scenario game can be used to
augment a brainstorming activity; whereas, problem inventory analysis is a 1
hour long activity in itself.

5.4.5. Idea Management


Much can be improved in CartêGraph’s idea management process, but their
strength definitely is capturing ideas from customers and successfully converting
those ideas into products.
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5.4.6. First Screen of ideas


It was not clear what type of screening criteria CartêGraph used for their first
screen of ideas. However, because ideas submitted from the idea generation
activities will be mainly directed towards solving the factors needed to cross the
chasm, a strategic screen is redundant, and a rough feasibility screen should
instead be applied. Ideas directed to current product lines may also be put
through a very rough feasibility screen.

5.4.7. Capturing Ideas from Internal and External Sources


CartêGraph’s strength is capturing ideas from customers, in particular their
current customer base. However, to cross the chasm, the pragmatic and
conservative customers in their markets must be tapped for ideas which, in
particular should be those which will help those customers adopt this new
technology. Their current customer bases should definitely be tapped for feature,
product, and new product line ideas, but keep in mind that the needs of their
current customers (being technologists and visionaries) are often different than
the needs of the mass market being pragmatic and conservative customers.
CartêGraph does not seem to tap partners, inventors, consultants,
universities, or suppliers for ideas. Interviewing could not determine if they
monitored competitor’s offerings for new product ideas, but it seems reasonable,
given their small market, that they would.
The company captures ideas from employees, but it seems like a large
percentage of these ideas were ideas from customers communicated to sales or
service employees. Development engineers do submit ideas but most ideas are
feature based with very few being new product, or new product line ideas.
The capturing of ideas seems to be done haphazardly, sometimes ideas
are submitted to their department heads, sometimes they are submitted to the
marketing manager, and sometimes the customers submit ideas to sales or
support employees, which may or may not pass the ideas forward.
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Sharing of captured ideas between those who capture the ideas seems to
be done haphazardly. It also seems that ideas for new products and new product
lines are sometimes written down in a excel document, and that the many feature
ideas are entered into a database associated with development. Ideas are mainly
submitted in person.

5.4.8. Recommendations for Capturing Ideas


This researcher recommends that all ideas should be submitted to one or two
main personnel, and that ideas from customers should be submitted to their
associated sales or support person. Then those sales or support personnel are
responsible for submitting that ideas (orally, or over email) to the two main
personnel. This will help organize the capture of ideas, and given the relatively
small number of submitted ideas (less than 1000), this structure is reasonable.
For example, new product ideas or larger could be submitted to the
marketing manager, and feature ideas could be submitted to the product
development manager in person or through the database. Given, the relative
small number of ideas it is reasonable to store the ideas in an excel sheet.
Interestingly, CartêGraph seems to have an internal favoritism toward
accepting customer driven ideas (ideas which are driven by a strong customer
expressed need). This is reasonable considering that their subscription based
business model only needs a few customers to justify a ROI decision for a new
feature or product. However, one must remember that the internal favoritism
toward customer driven ideas may be damaging efforts to crossing the chasm.
To cross the chasm, very often companies must make development
decisions and support products which meet the factors needed to force adoption,
and hence market driven ideas are more appropriate. Market driven ideas are
those which are more appropriate given the larger context of the market, for
example cereal companies develop ideas which try to gain market share
percentages instead of concentrating on satisfying a small group of customers.
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Gregory Moore speaks about the transition that companies must make to
cross the chasm, and notably mentions that products change from meeting the
needs of technologist and visionary customers to matching the needs of a
broader pragmatic customer base, i.e shifting to more market driven products in-
order to cross the chasm (Moore. G, 2004).

5.4.9. Tagging Ideas during Capture


The company is tagging ideas by recording upon capture “who created them”,
however, they are not capturing “when the ideas were created”, “who else
participated in their creation”, and “what activities lead to the ideas creation.”
Recording this information is valuable because as more advance idea generation
activities are used, the ability to track which activities generated a particular idea
will be useful in selecting future idea generation activities and recording ROI for a
particular idea generation activity.

5.4.10. Storage & Categorization


The CartêGraph stores feature ideas in a development database and ideas for
new product, new service, and new product line ideas in a excel document.
These means of storage are adequate for the current size of the company;
however, some tagging criteria (mentioned in the above paragraph) should be
added to the storage of feature ideas in the development software system.
Unfortunately, CartêGraph is not categorizing ideas in storage.
Categorizing of feature ideas is very valuable because of the great number of
feature ideas (1000+) and will help direct a particular feature idea to the
appropriate development team. As well, categorizing new product, and new
product line ideas will help in the selection and evaluation of these ideas.
This researcher recommends that CartêGraph should categorize ideas by:
date, batch number, associated submitters, detailed source (consumer, partner,
supplier, employee), opportunity area, reviewed or not-reviewed, technical
242

feasibility, developed or not-developed, and finally idea driver (technology,


market, customer, solution driven). More categories help employees in quickly
reviewing ideas prior to participating in future idea generation activities, and help
the innovation directors see where the gaps are in the idea database.

5.4.11. Process Check Used to Improve the Idea Generation Process


CartêGraph did not perform process checks on ideas or refined the idea
generation process as a result of these checks. It is recommended that an
“Innovation manager” knowledgeable in idea generation and idea management
be assigned and accountable for reviewing ideas captured by the company, and
ideas generated by the company. In doing so, they should check that the idea
generation activities are producing the desired ideas. For example, the
innovation manager should check that an idea generation activity such as “whole
product solution analysis” produced ideas which will help the company cross the
chasm.

5.4.12. Diffusing Ideas to Employees Inside the Company


CartêGraph also seems very poor at diffusing ideas across the company and it
was mentioned that ideas are not getting spread across the company. As well,
monthly development & sales progress meeting are being used to talk about new
ideas. It is hypothesizes that these new idea conversations must compete for
time against the more pressing sales and development conversations, and
inevitability lose priority.
Ideally, given the small size of the company (70 to 90 employees) there
should be a separate monthly or bi-monthly meeting dedicated to discussing new
ideas. A group of ideas should be selected and assigning ideas to individuals to
conduct preliminary market research. The result of their market research will be
used in the next idea meeting to select ideas. As well, meeting to discuss new
ideas should be combined with, and held right before idea generation activities.
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5.4.13. Late Front End Activities


This researcher noted that there were several issues with CartêGraph’s
Innovation process which need urgent attending to. These issues are:

a) The need for a portfolio management process, and


b) The need to integrate crossing the chasm strategy into the company’s
development process and company strategies.

Portfolio management is a vital process which is the act of selecting,


managing, and prioritizing the mix of development projects (a portfolio of
projects) so to manage the risk, returns, and strategic implication of the
company’s future product offerings. Metaphorically think of it, as managing a
portfolio of stocks & bonds that will mature anywhere from three months to five
years out. Having a detailed and sound process for selecting and managing the
portfolio will greatly increase returns when compared to a haphazard investing
strategy.
Currently, CartêGraph does not have a portfolio management process,
and all interviewees requested a process by which new products can
systematically be selected for development. Hence, this researcher recommends
that all executives should download and read the portfolio management articles
from the page. From those teaching the executives should structure their own
portfolio management process and communicate it to the boarder company so to
create alignment and understanding.
As previously mentioned the books Crossing the Chasm and Inside the
Tornado highlighted that companies in pre-adoption markets should integrate
company strategies towards forcing market adoption. In doing so they can force
themselves into market leadership for their emerging markets. This was true for
HP in the desktop printer market, Intuit for accounting software, Nikon for digital
cameras, and so on.
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This researcher recommends that the prior mentioned marketing research


project be carried out to determining the major 4 or 5 crossing the chasm factors.
The portfolio manager should then collaborate with the board and other
executives to push a part of their company’s product portfolio towards meeting
those factors, maybe 20% of next years products.
Again, sales will not be able to cross the chasm without a massive push to
do so, thus, preliminary sales and market responses for these products will, most
the time, be false indicators of their actual ability to cross the chasm without a
massive push to do so.
However, great efforts should be taken to uncover if these new products
are: a) lacking factors preventing pragmatic customers from adopting, or b) the
pragmatic customers are not adopting because they lack confidence in the
market and need to see their friends adopt it first.
If (a) is the case, more product development work needs to be done to
ready the products for chasm crossing. If (b) is the case, work must be done to
prove to the market that these products are ready and a small portion of the
pragmatic customer must be forced into adopting and providing references to the
greater market (i.e. running the market crossing battle mentioned in Moore
2006).
Again, no market research study is ever 100% correct, and hence pushing
the whole product portfolio towards the factors needed to cross the chasm is
risky. Hence some portion of the product portfolio should be dedicated to
crossing the chasm, while the remainder of the portfolio should generate
revenues from the current customer base.

5.4.14. Comparison with Measures of Satisfaction


The satisfaction variables in the survey were taken from only one interviewee
(marketing manager) and were found not to be reliable. After the survey was
completed, the respondent was interviewed, during which point he noted that the
levels of satisfaction were in retrospect much lower than that entered into the
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survey. For example, the levels of satisfaction with the overall idea generation
process was (satisfied; however, during the interview he mentioned to be very
dissatisfied because no process for idea generation existed. Hence this
researcher must discount all measure of satisfaction from CartêGraph from this
case study.

5.5. Case Study: Discussion of 2nd Research Question Based on Case Study
Evidence
The following section discusses the supporting evidence (obtained from the case
studies) that the model satisfies the second research question. Again, the second
research question is: “Can the developed control model be supported as
capturing the required factors needed to manage and control idea generation and
idea management effectively?”
This section supports the purpose model through evidence of its useful
application in analyzing and making recommendations for the case study
companies’ idea generation and idea management process. The supporting
evidence for this model is its: (1) aid in a quick analysis, (2) systematic analysis
of the information, (3) aid in performing a detailed analysis, (4) help in uncovering
major problem areas, (5) aid in making recommendations, and (6) aid in
comprehending the information. One major factor (strategy) was found to have
been missing from the model and will be discussed in the following “lessons”
section.
First, the proposed model aided in a rough analysis of the companies
processes. Again, the interviewees first answered the online survey which was
created directly from the proposed model. Then this researcher reviewed the
survey answer. From a 20 minute review of those answers, this researcher had a
very good understanding of areas of strength and weakness in their process.
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Second, the Glassman Model helped this researcher systematically


examine the vital points of the idea generation and idea management process
and according to the interviewee help create a very detailed set of
recommendations.
Third, it was found that the Glassman model resulted in a superior
analysis when compared to simple interviews conducted around general
activities such as generating ideas, screening ideas, capturing ideas, storing
ideas, and diffusing ideas.
The resolution offered by the Glassman model’s point of control for each
activity directly helped create many interview questions which uncovered a great
deal of valuable information which otherwise would not have been uncovered.
The Glassman model also guided interviewing questions to follow a logical flow.
Fourth, the model uncovered major and minor problem areas in the
companies’ idea generation and idea management processes. The model and
comprehensive list of factors and points of control helped in uncovering major
problem areas in their company’s process that otherwise may have been missed
during un-guided interviewing. The case studies highlight the many problems
uncovered for each company, and attest to the models value in these areas.
Fifth, the proposed model definitely aided in making recommendations.
The model’s comprehensive factors and points of control insured that a
comprehensive list of recommendations was made to each company. Without the
model, it would be very easy to forget to include a recommendation for a
particular part of the process.
Lastly, all information gathered from the interviews, both solicited and
unsolicited, could be fully understood in the context of the proposed model. This
is considered to be a major step because prior to this model interviewing often
uncovered information which did not result in an understanding of the process or
was information too difficult to piece together. The purposed model aided in
mapping and understanding of the companies processes which were previously
convoluted and difficult to comprehend.
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5.6. Case Study: Major Lessons Learned


The case studies again provided a rich learning opportunity, and from this many
major lessons were learned, the following section discusses the major lessons
being: (1) a need to integrate company strategy into idea generation, (2) the
structure of idea management, (3) process dependence and (4) the need for an
idea manager.
In all three of the case studies, this researcher used the structure of the
Glassman Model to recommend changes to the companies’ idea generation
process. But the specific options for each company varied based holy on their
strategic need.
For example, CartêGraph required an idea generation process which
assisted their major strategic goal of forcing market adoption of their technology
by generating ideas which assisted in market adoption. As well, Fairbanks
Scales strategically sought large opportunity areas, and hence had to change
their strategic scope and idea generation process to follow suit. Company Alpha
also required a process to better utilize their researchers in generating ideas.
All cases demonstrated that the idea generation process relies heavily on
company strategy. This is logical considering that the process can output a great
range of ideas. In-order to focus its’ output, the company strategy must be well
known and used to select the specific options for the idea generation process.
This lesson highlights a major weakness in the Glassman model which
must be addressed. The Glassman model does not contain the factors needed to
align the idea generation process with a company strategy. Hence, the model
must be appended to include activities for strategic alignment such as: 1)
reviewing the company strategy, 2) determining major areas which ideas should
be generated for based on the strategy, 3) confirming these areas, and 4)
aligning the process. Two examples will be used to explain these activities.
In the CartêGraph case study, this researcher was told the major strategic
goal was to gain market share, from their currently paltry 1%. Given the state of
their market it was obvious that they needed to force adoption of their
248

technology. This contradicted their request to generate incremental ideas for their
current customer base. Consequently, this researcher recommended that they
shift toward generating ideas to aid market adoption and forgo generating idea
for their current customer base.
On the other hand, Fairbanks Scales strategy was to grow in scales, but in
confirming these areas (step 3) it was convincingly determined that the “scale”
concept would not provide adequate opportunity to generate the needed growth.
Consequently, this researcher recommended that broaden their company
strategy (step 1), and use this researcher’s suggested areas to generate idea
(step 2). In all, it is believed that the mentioned factors and activities can be
easily integrated to improve the Glassman model.

5.6.1. Structure of Idea Management


In reviewing the case studies, it was determined that the structure of the idea
management process did not depend upon company strategy, but rather it
depended upon the number of captured ideas.
One can imagine the idea management process as a logistical process
much like a post office, where ideas/packages are: captured, tagged, stored,
categorized/sorted and diffused/delivered to the appropriate people. In this view,
the particular options for each activity depend holy upon the number of ideas
going through the process.
For example, Fairbanks Scales which only required a few ideas could
feasible perform an idea management process conducted mostly on paper;
whereas, Company Alpha which received many thousands of ideas required an
elaborate idea management software system.
From this conclusion it should also be noted, that companies which
capture large numbers of ideas most likely will need an idea management
software to conduct this process effectively. This is because a paper system, or
email system cannot feasibly deal with a large number of ideas.
249

5.6.2. Situational Dependence on Idea Generation or Idea Management


Fairbanks Scales had a highly evolved set of idea capture activities which tapped
every available source of ideas known to the company. This was a direct result of
a stalled internal idea generation process. Conversely, Company Alpha captured
very few ideas from outside sources and relied entirely on their R&D staff to
generate ideas. Both these cases highlight that a company can become
dependent upon either idea generation or capturing idea via idea management.
Nonetheless, this researcher believes that both processes can be fruitfully
utilized together regardless of the company situation.

5.6.3. Assigned Idea Manager


In all of the case, this researcher recommended an owner/manager of the idea
generation and idea management process. It is believed that having and single
or set of individuals responsible for obtaining ideas imparts needed internal
accountability on getting ideas into the pipeline. As noted by the literature, the
lack of clarity of this process and lack of accountability was responsible for many
problems. Given the proposed Glassman model and the review of material
presented in this dissertation, it is very reasonable that a manager could learn to
effectively manage these processes and be accountable for their results.

5.6.4. Expertise is Needed


Although the above information supports that the model contains the factors
needed to manage both processes, it was found that some expertise is required
to use this model to manage these processes. In particular, an innovation
practitioner requires the expertise to knowledgeably select amongst the options
presented for each point of control. For example, the selection of the appropriate
idea generation activity for Fairbank’s Scales required a general understanding of
all activities and the output for each activity. Only then could an innovation
practitioner effectively select the appropriate idea generation activities.
250

5.7. Survey: Method of Cleaning the Data and Analysis


Several actions were taken to prepare the survey data for analysis. The first was
scanning the data to remove incomplete surveys. The survey had a completion
rate of 60%; however, this would have been higher if the survey links were not
put on online forums. Interestingly, an 85% completion rate was associated with
individuals who were invited to take the survey after watching this researcher’s
online presentation. Surveys which were 85% complete were left in the data set.
Next, the reliability of the data was checked for all the dependent
satisfaction variables and found to have a Cronbach Alpha of 0.91, the reliability
for the activity variables were found to have a Cronbach Alpha of 0.91.
All variables were measured on a single item scale so individual measures
of Cronbach could not be computed. Although this may reduce reliability, many of
the questions were thought to be so straight forward that repeating them would
annoy respondents, as well as, lengthen the survey time to an unreasonable 50 +
mins. The average time to complete this survey was 25 minutes with some
individuals taking up to 40 minutes. Nonetheless, the correlations in the following
section show some strong evidence of reliable data.
Next the respondent groups were compared amongst themselves using
Cronbach Alpha and some of the uncovered correlations. It was noted that
respondents who identified themselves solely as “support”, “researcher”, or
“advisors” introduced substantial error into the data set and greatly offset all of
the correlations, hence these groups were removed. If an individual selected any
of the following roles they were kept: project manager, division manager, R&D
manager, VP of R&D. Keep in mind an individual could be a “R&D manager” and
a “researcher” in which case their response was kept. This left 40 respondents
from the total sample of 60 completed surveys.
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It was determined that management responsibilities produced more


reliable responses than those individuals which were solely “support”,
“researcher”, or “advisors.” This is obviously due to the higher amount of
exposure and familiarity management has with the process when compared to a
line worker (like researchers, advisors, or support) who may be only exposed to
small parts of the process.
Unless otherwise noted all correlations in the following section were
found to have two tailed significances to 0.001, with the critical value for N=40
being 0.393. In most cases, the correlation R squared value was even above the
critical value of 0.393.
These author only considered correlations, of 0.6 or greater to be of
interest because, 1) 40 responses is a very small sample population of the
millions of businesses in existences, 2) this researcher wanted to avoid making
weak correlations which could lead to faulty conclusions, 3) many correlation
existed in the data between 0.4 to 0.6 and rationalizing each of these for such a
small sample size would be to cumbersome and most-likely unfruitful. This
researcher considered a correlation of 0.8 or above to be very strong, 0.64 to
0.8 to be strong, and 0.6 to 0.64 to be moderate.
A Pearson’s correlation calculation was used for all correlations.
Satisfaction items were converted to ordinal scales as shown in figure 5.2 and
denoted by a number followed by an S as such “#S.” Questions about the
frequency, amounts, or degree of an activity were converted to ordinal scales as
shown in figure 5.2 and denoted by a number preceded by a V as such “V#.”

Figure 5.2. Conversion of Answers from Likert to Ordinal Scales


252

Please note many of the correlation sum one or more factors, this is a
simple procedure. For example, if a particular respondent answers “sometimes”
or 3 for V45 and “always” or 5 for V46, then the sum is 9. This calculation is then
computed for all respondents, and the resulting 1x40 matrix can be used in a
simple Pearson’s Correlation.

5.8. Survey: General Demographic Statistics for the Sample


The following section presents the demographics of the respondents who were
kept in the survey for analysis. IRB dictated that all companies and respondents
names be de-identified.
The respondent companies range greatly across several industries,
revenue size, employee size, but the vast majority seem to be located in the US,
with a majority in Ohio (see Figure 5.5). Figure 5.3 shows the distribution for the
respondents amongst their respective industries. Software and chemical seem to
have a large number, but the software & chemical companies varied greatly
within the sub-industry, hence, a very even distribution of company industries
was sampled.
Figure 5.4 shows respondent companies by both revenues and by number
of employees. The sample seems to bias larger revenue companies; whereas,
the number of employees seems to be bias toward companies larger than 501
and between 101-300 employees. Thus, this sample’s results should be strongly
applicable to large to mid size companies measured by number of employee and
revenues; however, it is unclear how applicable the results of the survey would
be to companies with less than 500K in revenue.
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253

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Employees
254

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Aside from companies, the respondents were also analyzed on their


project responsibilities, company roles, and years of experience in that company.
Figure 5.6 shows the respondents organized by their roles, again the sample is
purposefully bias toward management.
Out of the respondents, 1 respondent managed one project, 24 managed
two or more projects, 14 managed one division, and 16 managed the whole
company (see appendix D). This again shows a purposeful bias toward
management responsibilities.
The average years of experience within their current company for
respondents were 6.03 years, with a standard deviation of 5.73 years, with one
respondent having 28 years experience. On the low end seven respondents had
2 years experience and six had 1 year of experience. Keep in mind this has no
relation to the actual years of experiences of the respondents.
255

Respondent Roles for N = 40

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Number of Respondent who selected that role


16 Note a respondents can select more than one Role.
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5.8.1. Sample’s Relation to the Greater Population


No statistical tests have been conducted to determine this samples relation to the
greater population. Because the survey was promoted in conjunction with a web-
seminar on idea generation and idea management, it is thought that the vast
majority of the respondents were interested in this topic which may be due to: (1)
a need they see in their company for improvement in these areas, or (2) a
general interest in these subjects. Product development managers are typically
fairly busy and it is thought the first explanation may be the main reason for
taking this survey.
Hence, it is thought that the sample is bias toward respondents who see a
need for improvement in these given areas for their companies. However,
question 21S shows a normal distribution of satisfaction for respondents with
their overall idea generation process, suggesting no bias. But questions 51S to
56S suggest that respondents are more dissatisfied with their idea management
processes. Question V132 shows 85% of respondents are interested in learning
256

more about this topic. This researcher is unsure if this sample is representative of
the greater populations, and would lean toward it representing individuals who
see a need for improvement in these areas in their companies and have a
general interest in this subject area.

5.9. Survey: Correlations between Satisfaction Variables


It would be helpful to start the discussion of the data obtained from the survey
with an analysis and discussion of the satisfaction variables. In this section the
dependent satisfaction variables were compared with each other to see if any
logical correlations could be developed. Figure 5.7 below shows that out of the
sixteen variables only one (61S) could not be correlated with the others.

Figure 5.7. Correlations of the Satisfaction Variables

5.9.1. Idea Generation


The first most important correlation found in this group was the correlation that
49S (Overall Satisfaction with the Idea Generation process) had with the sum of
factors 44S, 45S, 46S, 48S, 54S, shown in Figure 5.8.
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The correlation in Figure 5.8 was found to have a Pearson 0.833


significant to 0.01, and is of extreme interest because it encompasses 70% of the
variation in an individual’s overall satisfaction with their companies idea
generation process.

Figure 5.8. Correlation for Overall Satisfactions with the Idea Generation Process

This is a logical correlation because the quality, number of ideas, time to


generate ideas, and ability to generate a specific set of ideas are in sum the
major outcomes of the idea generation activities and should obviously be tightly
correlated with overall satisfaction with the idea generation process. The factors
of 54 (quality and amount of ideas in the idea bank) and 48 (the ability of idea
generation process to fill the front end portfolio) are also the result of the output
of idea generation process, and should also be tightly correlated with overall
satisfaction.
The true importance of this correlation is that a consultant can use a single
question (What is your overall satisfaction with your company’s idea generation
process?) to fairly accurately gauge an individual’s sum satisfaction with
important outputs of their company’s idea generation process.
258

Figure 5.9. Correlation of V48 Ability to Fill Front End Portfolio

Figure 5.9 shows the correlation between the satisfaction of 48S (ability of
your company’s idea generation process to fill the front end portfolio needs) and
56S (the ability of your company’s idea bank to fill the front end portfolio’s needs)
to be 0.678 significant to 0.01. A high correlation is logical given they both relate
to the front end portfolio needs. The variation can be primarily attributed to the
difference between the “ideas” created from the idea generation process and the
“ideas” located in the idea bank (which also included ideas captured from outside
sources).

5.9.2. Idea Capture


Another impressive relationship is the strong 0.728 Pearson correlation between
51S (the satisfaction with the company’s ability to capture ideas from employees
at all levels) and the sum of (53S the company’s ability to store and organize
captured ideas, and 55S the company’s ability to distribute or route ideas across
the company), show in figure 5.10. The following hypothesis is offered to explain
this relationship.
As shown in the initial version of Glassman’s model (Figure 3.16),
capturing ideas comes before storing, organizing, and distributing ideas, yet they
are all connected in a continuous linear process. If any one part of the process
(capture, storing, organizing, or distributing) is inefficient, obviously the whole
idea management process will be inefficient. This is further back by all three
variables having strong correlations between each other of 0.61 or greater.
259

This correlation can be used as supporting evidence for this researcher’s


idea management process as being linear.

Figure 5.10. Correlation of 51S Ability to Capture Ideas from Employees

The next correlation, which seems to be less useful, relates satisfaction


variable 52S (company’s ability to capture ideas from outsides sources) to the
sum of 49S (overall satisfaction) and 54S (quality and amount of ideas in the idea
bank), shown in figure 5.11. This moderate correlation (R2 = 36%) is less obvious
and may be rationalize by an innovation director being satisfied with ideas in his
idea bank, and thus being satisfied with his idea generation process and by their
ability to capture ideas from outside sources. Remember some confusion still
exists in the term “idea generation process” where many innovation practitioners
also take it to include many activities in idea management like “capturing ideas.”

Figure 5.11. Correlations of 52S Ability to Capture Ideas from Outside Sources
260

5.9.3. Development Outcomes


Satisfaction variables dealing with development outcomes (58S, 59S, 60S) were
compared and found to have a strong correlation as shown in Figure 5.12. This is
an obvious correlation and just verifies that the survey is acting correctly. The
variation in this correlation can be attributed to the difference between comparing
a ratio and the ability to convert a single idea.

Figure 5.12. Correlation of Dependent Development Variables

Interestingly two unexpected correlations were noted as shown in figure


5.13. Given these correlations are moderate ones, one explanation is that an
innovation director is more satisfied with their development department’s use of
resources when they see their department can create a number of quality ideas
with these given resources.

Figure 5.13. Correlations with Company Resources


261

5.10. Survey: Discussion of Correlations Between Satisfaction Variables and


Measures of Activities
The following section will discuss the correlations found between the dependent
satisfaction variables and the independent activity variables. The section will be
arranged by the descending order of activities as shown in the author’s proposed
model.

Figure 5.14. Correlations of Activities to Quality of Ideas Generated

The strongest and most significant correlation uncovered in this study is


0.851 Pearson R correlation shown in figure 5.14. The sum of the variables in the
left side of this correlation can be thought of as the “quality of the output from the
idea generation process.” A high quality idea generation process produces large
numbers of quality ideas for a specific purpose. Obviously, high quality ideas are
going to be stored in the idea bank as shown by 54S in the left side of Figure
5.14.
262

The right side of this correlation shows several things. First it shows that
selection of creative people (which equate to selection of the source in
Glassman’s model) is an important factor in generating a quality output. Alone
V73 (selection of creative people) had the highest correlation (0.61 moderate)
with 47S (time to generation ideas). Again, this supports the author’s model.
Next, having, hosting, and managing events are very important in
generating a quality output. Alone V75 (actively holding events) had a 0.67
(strong) correlation with quality of ideas (44S) and a 0.6 (moderate) correlation
with (49S) overall satisfaction with the idea generation process, and a 0.59
correlation for both V45 & V47. This shows the importance of having formal
events to generate ideas. Actively managing these events V76 had a moderate
0.45 to 0.48 individual correlation with factors 44S, 45S, 47S, and a high
correlation (0.58) with 54S the amount and quality of idea in the idea bank.
The idea generation activities V80, V81, V82 together showed the highest
correlations to satisfaction variables 44S, 45S, 46S, 47S, 54S. What this says is
that selecting, managing, and providing tools & resources for idea generation
activities is the most important thing one can do to generate a number of quality
ideas. This is logical considering that these activities are the ones which actually
create the ideas. All 12 internal correlations between these variables had
correlations above 0.49 with the average being 0.6.
Out of this group V81 had the highest correlation to 45S of 0.75. This says
that managing the idea generation activities accounts is require to obtain a
satisfactory number of ideas (accounts for R2=56% of the outcome).
The importance of selecting, managing, and providing tools for idea
generation activities cannot be understated and should be central in ones efforts
to generating a number of qualities of ideas quickly.
Together the variables on the right of figure 5.14 have a strong 0.695
correlations with (49S) the overall satisfaction with the idea generation process.
This greatly supports that these activities are vital additions to Glassman’s
proposed model.
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Figure 5.15. Correlation 0.851 Comparison with Model

The right hand side of Figure 5.14 shows that those activities are highly
interrelated. Thankfully, this strongly supports the author’s proposed model for
idea generation shown in Figure 5.15 as having these activities occurring in an
interrelated linear process. Again, the linear process is the only one which makes
sense as discussed in Chapter 3, development of a control model.
Unfortunately, several points of control shown in Figure 5.15 were not
tested for in the survey due to length requirements. Interestingly, providing
incentives for events showed no notable correlations, but providing a general
incentive for submitting ideas created a 0.53 correlation with 44S (satisfaction
with quality of ideas), and a weak 0.48 correlation with 45S (satisfaction with
number of ideas). This provides weak support, but support Nonetheless for
incentives in Glassman’s proposed model.
Amazingly, screening in Glassman’s model showed no notable
correlations with the variable on the left of Figure 5.15. Later in this section, one
will see that screening plays an important role in idea management. Hence, one
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can tentatively conclude that screening activities must be removed from idea
generation and placed in the idea management part of Glassman’s proposed
model.
Satisfaction with the ability of their company's idea generation process to
fill the front end portfolio's needs (48S) at best had a weak correlation 0.58 with
V75 the degree to which one actively holds events. The low correlations that
(48S) has to other satisfaction variables is weird and un-explained considering in
figure 5.9 it helps the correlation with overall satisfaction.
Again the resulting correlations developed from the survey, show strong
support for the points of control proposed in the author’s idea generation model.

5.10.1. Correlations for the Idea Management Process

5.10.1.1. Capturing and Screening Ideas


The next set of correlations are those dealing with the activities described under
idea management, starting with capturing of ideas from employees.

Figure 5.16. Weak Correlation for Capturing Ideas from Employees

It was thought that 51S, satisfaction with capturing ideas from employees,
would have correlated strongly with V88, the degree by which their company
accepts ideas submitted from, or by observing employees, see Figure 5.16. In
reviewing the data it was found that several activities combined together created
a very strong correlation with 51S, as shown in Figure 5.17.
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The correlation shown in Figure 5.17 displays a strong relationship


between 51S and the ten activities on the right which were clumped into similar
groups. The screening activities all had individual correlations of 0.5 with V85
having a 0.55 correlation with 51S. This says, that screening is important part of
capturing ideas from employees.
Next, the capturing activities, V88, V98, V104, V105, had correlations of
0.433, 0.59, 0.56, 0.60 with 51S, respectively. It was interesting that V98
(capturing ideas from media) correlated with 51S. Consider this, the only ways
ideas are captured from magazines or media source are if employees read or
watch them, then submit the ideas. Given this, one can deduce that to be better
at capturing ideas from media sources, they must be effective at capturing idea
from employees.

Figure 5.17. Strong Correlation for Capturing Ideas from Employees


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Interestingly, V105 (actively managing capture from outsides sources)


increased satisfaction with capturing ideas from employees. This may be
because companies which are effective at capturing ideas from employees are
also effective at capturing ideas from outside sources? Or this may be because,
the respondents considered many of the ideas captured from outsides sources
(like media sources) to be observed and submitted by employees. Nonetheless,
the strength of this correlation (0.60) suggests that companies should also
actively manage the capture of ideas from outsides sources in their efforts to
capture ideas from employees.
Finally, idea management activities being V114 (actively managing the
system for storing ideas), V115 (degree of formality of this system), and V116
(use of idea management software) have individual correlations with 51S of 0.58,
0.51, 0.64, respectively. Obviously, actively managing the system for storing
ideas is important. But it was surprising for V115 that a more formal system for
capturing ideas increased satisfaction. During the case studies, this researcher
learned that employees (especially at large companies) are often confused about
how to submit ideas, so clearly having a more formal system reduces this
confusion. In hindsight this is logical because the more formal the system is the
more employees would be aware, and knowledgeable in how to submit ideas.
As was mentioned in the conclusions of the case studies, the idea
management process is highly logistical and idea management software are
ideal for dealing with high volumes of ideas, and the strong 0.64 correlation
shows this. As well, idea management software are really tailored toward
capturing ideas from employees.
Most importantly, the strong correlations in figure 5.17 provide support for
the importance of the management activities described in Glassman’s model for
idea management. In particular the activities of: screening, capturing, storing,
and organizing ideas were shown to be interdependent. As mentioned in chapter
3, only a linear process makes sense for these activities.
267

Figure 5.18. Correlation for Capturing Ideas from Outsides Sources

Figure 5.18 shows a very strong correlation for capturing ideas from
outside sources relating to the sum of the five variable V123, V125, V126, V127,
V128, having individual correlations of 0.62, 0.58, 0.63, 0.66, 0.71 with 52S,
respectively. This correlation validity is further backed by the correlations shown
in Figure 5.10.
It seems that refining the process using outputted ideas, is important in the
satisfaction with capturing ideas from outside source, this can be due to
companies needing to adjust the selection and method of capturing ideas from
outsides sources to optimize the process.
Interestingly, diffusion is vitally important in satisfaction with capturing
ideas from outsides sources. One idea for its importance is the innovation
director’s satisfaction when employees receive and proposed ideas from outside
sources. Obviously, employees would mainly receive ideas from the idea bank or
be routed the ideas. In fact, routing ideas had the highest individual correlation of
0.71 with 52S.
Another thought for its importance is because the innovation director, or
product development managers mainly see the end results of capturing ideas
from outside sources being the diffusion activities, and they attributed much
satisfaction to the quality of those visible activities, placing less weight on the
screening, capturing, and storing activities.
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Yet another explanation for this correlation may be this. In some


companies employees are responsible for capturing ideas from outsides sources,
and if they notice that higher quality ideas in the idea bank are coming from
outside sources they may be more inclined to tap those outside sources for ideas
in the future.
Regardless of these correlations, this researcher still feels that capturing
ideas from outside sources is only efficient when the whole idea management
process is effective. Further this researcher feels that variable 52S “satisfaction
with capturing ideas from outsides sources” as measured does not reflect
accurately the actual effectiveness of capturing ideas from outsides sources.

5.10.1.2. Tagging Ideas


Moving on, one correlation was found for tagging ideas of 51S (satisfaction with
capturing ideas from employees) and V107 (who submitted the idea) of 0.465.
Obviously innovation directors are going to be satisfied with capturing ideas from
employees when they no who submitted them. The fact that no other tagging
activities had correlation should not detract from the importance of this activity.
Again, when new practices are recommended they are usually not practiced and
this was very much the fact with tagging (see Section 5.12.2 for details on
tagging).
Very few companies practiced recording tag info other than who created
an idea. So it is no surprise that there was no correlation found for the tagging
activities. Nonetheless, this researcher still feels that tagging is a vital and easy
to perform activity, which gains great importance as process checks are
conducted.
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5.10.1.3. Storing & Categorizing Ideas

V114. To what degree does your


Pearson company actively manage the system
53S. Satisfaction with 0.648 for storing ideas?
Storing & Categorizing
Ideas R2=0.41 V122. How often does your company
refine the idea generation process?

Figure 5.19. Correlation for Storing and Capturing Ideas

There were substantial correlations found for storing of ideas in figures


5.15. Outside of that, figure 5.19 shows a moderate correlation between 53S and
V114 and V122. Alone, V114 correlated to 53S with a 0.61 Pearson which can
be obviously explained by increase quality associated with increase management
activity. Interestingly, there was no notable correlation found between 53S and
V115 degree of formality of this system. This researcher thought there would be
a strong correlation, but in review this lack of correlation may be due to small
companies not needing a formal system for storage. A weak 0.5 correlation was
found for this correlation using only large companies (more than 500 employees),
thus this researcher is unsure how formality alone affects satisfaction with storing
and categorizing ideas.

5.10.1.4. Process Check Activities


Process check was found to be important in figure 5.19 as well, in figure
5.20 below. The rational for this correlation was already mentioned to be due to a
innovation director needing to review the ideas to see which outside sources are
producing ideas.

Figure 5.20. Correlation for Process Improvement


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5.10.1.5. Diffusion Activities


Satisfaction with diffusion was correlated to activities shown in table 5.7. Out of
these the V114 (degree to which a company actively manages the system for
storing ideas) had a weak 0.493 correlation, saying that 25% of the satisfaction is
due to this activity. Amazingly, all diffusion activities had poor or no correlations
with 55S; therefore, this result cannot be explained. Again Figure 5.18 shows the
diffusion activities related to satisfaction with capturing ideas from outsides
sources.
Otherwise, V127 (exposing employees to ideas from the idea bank)
showed the highest but weak correlation with 56S. Rationalizing this, one would
say that more new product projects can be made if employees are exposed more
to ideas from the idea bank.
The weak correlation developed for diffusion activities, except for that of
Figure 5.18, seem to understate the importance of these activities. Again, idea
management is a linear process and it makes very little sense to be efficient in
the rest of the process yet be poor in diffusion. As well, the literature review on
diffusion in this dissertation stresses the importance of these activities.
There seems to be some weak correlation between 54S (quality and
amount of ideas in idea bank) and V126 (staff referring to idea bank), V127
(exposing employees to ideas from idea bank), and V128 (routing ideas to
employees), as shown in Table 5.7. Again, the more employees are exposed to
ideas the higher the chance that ideas are created serendipitously. As well, many
idea generation activities (like IDEO process) recommends that employees to
review the idea bank prior to participating in idea generation activities. Hence,
these correlations follow predicted logic.
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Table 5.7. Correlation for Diffusion Activities

55S. How satisfied are


54S. The amount, quality, you with your company s 56S. The ability of your
type of ideas in your ability to distribute or company's idea bank to
company s idea bank or route ideas across the fill the front end
idea pool? organization? portfolio's needs?
To what degree does your company actively
V114 manage the system for storing ideas? 0.400 0.493 0.351
How often does your company refine the idea
V122 generation process? 0.402 0.426 0.418
How much does your company use the
outputted ideas to refine the idea generation
V123 process? 0.382 0.188 0.349
How frequently does your company’s employees
search the idea bank when they need new
V125 ideas? 0.280 0.357 0.381
How frequently does your product development
staff refer to or search the idea bank during idea
V126 gene... 0.422 0.208 0.432
To what degree does your company actively
expose its’ employees to ideas from the idea
V127 bank? 0.519 0.354 0.523
To what degree does your company actively
route particular newly submitted ideas to the
V128 employees wh... 0.547 0.287 0.412

5.10.1.6. Development Activities


As an additional measure the survey tested satisfaction with respect to four
development activities. Out of these only one 60S (satisfaction with their
company’s ability to convert an idea into a marketable product) was found to
have a moderate correlation of 0.6 to V126 (a diffusion activity) as shown in
figure 5.21. It does not make sense that later development activities are
improved by referring to the idea bank. Instead, one can hypothesize those
employees which refer to the idea bank more, purposefully create ideas that are
more in line with the needs of the company and create ideas which have higher
chance making it to market launch. The other two correlations shown in figure
5.21 support this thought.
272

Figure 5.21. Correlation for Development Activities

5.10.1.7. Idea Management Software


Idea management software is an upcoming tool to aid idea management, and
again, this researcher’s case studies concluded that idea management software
is almost necessary for companies with large number of employees. Table 5.8,
shows the correlation that the use of idea generation has to levels of satisfaction.

Table 5.8. Correlations for Idea Management Software

V116. To what degree does your company:


Use Idea management software for storage?

How satisfied are you with:Your company


s ability to capture ideas from employees
51S at all levels? 0.643 strong correlation
Your company s ability to capture ideas
from outside sources like competitors,
52S suppliers, consultant... 0.389 No correlation
Your company’s ability to store and
53S organize captured ideas? 0.293 No correlation

The amount, quality, type of ideas in your


54S company s idea bank or idea pool? 0.268 No correlation
Your company s ability to distribute or
55S route ideas across the organization? 0.203 No correlation
How satisfied are you with: The
development outcomes of ideas that enter
58S into your pipeline? 0.105 No correlation
Overall idea generation process of your
49S company? 0.092 No correlation

Your company s ability to convert an idea


60S into a marketable product or service? 0.084 No correlation
The ability of your company's idea bank to
56S fill the front end portfolio's needs? 0.047 No correlation
Your company s ability to use resources
during development in an effective
61S manner? -0.013 No correlation
The ratio of ideas that make it through to
59S market launch? -0.025 No correlation
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Again, Idea management software’s main goal is to capture ideas from


employees and hence that correlation 0.643 supports that point.
Interestingly, the use of idea management software did not correlate with
any other activities. Now, this is by no means conclusive, because idea
management software is evolving greatly in effectiveness and functionality, even
over the last year (2008). It is totally reasonable not to see any correlations with
idea management software until they gain wider market acceptance, and have a
common level of functionality. Keep in mind not all idea management software
have the same functionality, some companies even used Microsoft SharePoint
which is a knowledge management program, and claim it to be their idea
management software, which in reality it is not! From this one can conclude that
the correlations in table 5.8 can be deemed totally inaccurate for future
reference.
This researcher sees much potential in the use of idea management
software to formalize and stream line the idea management process. But again,
one should understand the process before using a tool to manage it.
274

5.11. Survey: Discussion of Support for Proposed Model

Table 5.9. Support Found for the Author’s Proposed Model


Support found for points of control in the author's proposed Level of Support Figures or Table Supporting
I-Gen model (Idea Management part of model only) location of supporting Activity Question
correlation
Screening ideas
Method of screening (input) Strong 5.15 84
Attributes of the screen (input) Strong 5.15 85
Execution of screening (process) Strong 5.15 86
Capturing Ideas
Method of Capture (input) Strong 5.15 116
Sources of Capture (input) Strong 5.15 88,98,104
Execution of capture (process) Strong 5.15 105
Tagging
Method of Tagging (input) Not Tested for in survey
Attribute of the Tag (input) Weak 107
Execution of Tagging (process) Weak 107
Storage and Categorization
Method of Storage & Categorization (input) Strong 5.15 115, 116
Execution of Storage & Categorization (process) Strong 5.15 114
Process Check
Methods of Process Check (input) Strong 5.16, Table 5.7 122, 123
People performing the Process Check (input) Not Tested for in survey
Execution of Process Check (process) Strong 5.17 122, 123
Diffusion
Methods of Diffusion & Routing (input) Strong 5.16, Table 5.7 127
People executing diffusion & routing (input) Not Tested for in survey
Execution of Diffusion & Routing Strong 5.16, Table 5.7 125,126,127,128

Table 5.9 compiles the support for the points of control in Glassman’s
model. One can see that all points of control but the tagging had strong support.
To reiterate, this researcher feels that the lack of proper tagging is a systemic
error in the practices of companies that will be remedied when these companies
start doing detailed process checks.
One can also see in table 5.9 that several points of control were not tested
in the survey. This was done because these questions were either too redundant
to ask, not important enough to be asked, or could not be formulated. Methods of
tagging seem not important enough to ask because it was based on the way
which idea were recorded. It was difficult to formulate a question regarding the
“people performing the process check” and “people performing diffusion or
routing” because this researcher was unclear if he wanted frequency, selection,
or the role of these individuals.
275

In all the supporting correlations discussed in this section lend great


validity to the authors proposed idea management model. Combining this with
the support for the points of control listed in figure 5.15, the combined model of
idea generation and idea management is well supported.

5.12. Survey: Discussion of Normative Results


The results for all of the questions of the survey were summarized in graphic
form and are displayed in Appendix D, so please refer to it often while reading
this section.
For the satisfaction questions a higher “mean” resulted in higher
dissatisfaction and for the activity questions a higher “mean” resulted in higher
frequency, of amount of that activity occurring. Very few of the questions had
normal distribution of answers (44S, 47S, 54S, V115), the bulk of the questions
were double humped or skewed left or right with a few having flat distributions.
For the sake of brevity, the most interesting findings will be discussed below.

5.12.1. Normative Results for Satisfaction Questions


Out of all the questions dealing with satisfaction with idea generation outputs only
questions 46S had a high skew where 49% of the respondents were satisfied
with their company’s ability to generate a set of ideas with a specific set of
attributes. Most of the questions had slight double distributions with only 45S,
46S having right skews towards being more satisfied.
Three of the questions for dealing with satisfaction with idea
management’s outputs produced interesting results. Question 52S showed that
51% were satisfied or very satisfied with capturing ideas from outside sources.
Yet the activity questions V63-V72, & V87-V97, shows that most companies did a
poor job of tapping a variety of outside sources for ideas. One may hypothesize
that (1) respondents only need to tap a small number of sources to be satisfied,
or *2) respondents are not aware of the number of outside sources and outside
276

ideas they are missing, and thus are content. The second hypotheses would also
explain why the activities associated with capturing ideas from outsides sources
are missing Figure 5.18.
Question 53S shows a hard skew to the left with 48% dissatisfied and
53% very dissatisfied or dissatisfied with their company’s ability to store and
organize captured ideas. Obviously, the respondents in this sample have a
systemic problem with storing and organizing ideas.
Question 55S shows a light skew to the left with 43% being very
dissatisfied or dissatisfied with their companies’ ability to distribute or route ideas
across the company. This may be part of the reason why no strong correlations
were found (outside of Figure 5.18) with diffusion activities.
Question 58S showed that 51% of respondents were satisfied or very
satisfied with the development outcomes of the ideas that enter their pipeline.
This shows that the sample is from companies which, on the majority, are
effective at developing products.

5.12.2. Normative Results for Activity Questions


Moving on to activities, question V75 showed that the bulk of the respondents
(79%) did not frequently hold events to generate ideas, where only 4
respondents (10%) always held events to generate ideas, and to that questions
V76 showed that 61% of the respondents undermanaged these events.
Not hosting and managing events is a systemic problem in this sample,
and should be improved upon because the correlations in Figures 5.12, showed
that holding and managing events is vital factor in generation a number of quality
ideas.
Another systemic problem was found in V77 and V78 in the lack of
incentives across all respondents. It seems companies go cheap, and expect
employees who often have other major responsibilities outside of generating
ideas, to take the time and generate and submit ideas. Incentive theory showed
that for employees to make something a priority they must be incentivized rightly.
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Questions V80, V81, V82 highlight that the bulk of the respondents do not
select the idea generation activities, manage them or provide adequate
resources and tools to these activities. Once more the correlation shown in
Figure 5.14 highlights that this is a major error!
Screening shown in question V84 is one of those simple activities which
every company seems to do, again this is only a minor part of the whole process.
Amazingly, there is a flat distribution in responses amongst V85 setting the
attributes for the first screen and V86 managing the first screens.
Questions V87 to V97, and V63 to V72 show that outside sources like:
customers, partners, and the media sources are often tapped for ideas; while,
universities, external research labs, suppliers, consultants, indirect competitors,
and independent inventors are much less frequently tapped for ideas. Open
innovation experts should take note of these graphs for these questions because
it lends them much support. Obviously, companies should be frequently tapping
all sources for ideas.
Question V100-V103 shows that an “individual” and “email” is the most
prevalent form of capturing ideas, followed by suggestion boxes and voice mail,
and lastly idea management software. Using an individual to capture ideas is
very acceptable as long as they are trained in how to apply the screens
appropriately.
Questions V107-V110 showed a systemic problem with tagging, that
although respondents are recording who submitted the ideas, they are failing to
record other via tag information. As mentioned, this researcher believes this will
change when more rigorous process checks are adopted, and responses in
question V122, V123 show that only 5 respondents frequently perform process
checks.
Diffusion of ideas seems to be practiced poorly amongst the respondent
companies as shown by questions V125, V126, V127. Out of these activities
routing V127 had the highest mean of 3.28 with 36% of the respondent “always”
or “most-of-the-time” routing ideas to employees. This hints at possible systemic
278

problem with routing and diffusion which may be due to the lack of importance
placed on this activity in the literature. Nevertheless, the correlation in figure 5.18
and correlations in table 5.7 state the importance of diffusion activities.

5.13. Survey: Major Lessons Learned


There were several major lessons learned from conducting the survey research
study. The first and most important lesson was that most of the correlations and
normative data supported Glassman’s model for idea generation and idea
management. Once more, table 5.9 and figure 5.15 showed a summary of
support for the model. This helps to answer the second research question
further. Combined with the case studies there is substantial evidence that the
proposed model will be effective in managing and controlling the idea generation
and idea management processes.
The second major lesson was that screening activities are really
considered by respondents to be part of the idea management process. This
lesson is applied in the following chapter 5 Updated Control Models.
The third major lesson is the importance of people, events, and idea
generation activities in creating a number of quality ideas in a timely fashion. This
lesson was highlighted in detail in the discussion surrounding figure 5.14.
Unfortunately, the normative data in appendix D showed that a majority of the
respondents did not host or manage idea generation activities correctly.
The forth major lesson is how satisfaction with capturing ideas from
employees is greatly affected by the screening, capturing, and storing activities,
see the discussion surrounding figure 5.17. The fifth major lesson is how
satisfaction with capturing ideas from outside sources depended highly on
diffusion activities as shown by figures 5.18 and table 5.7.
The last major lesson was the systemic dissatisfaction with: capturing
ideas from outside sources, storing and categorizing of ideas, and diffusion and
routing of ideas, amongst the respondents. Yet again, this may hint at a larger
systemic issue with these items for the greater population.
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CHAPTER 6. UPDATED CONTROL MODELS

This very short chapter presents improvements made to the proposed Glassman
model based on lessons learned from the case studies and survey study.
Appending to this model is believed to strengthen it further, and lend it additional
creditability as being an effective means of controlling the idea generation and
idea management processes. The improvements to the model will be discussed
sequentially.

6.1. Screening Moved into Idea Management


The first improvement to this model was the movement of screening activities
into the idea management portion of the model. Section 3.28 discusses
screening in detail but fails to mention that most of the screening occurs during
the capturing of ideas, in addition, to screening occurring during idea generation.
The importance of screening as part of the idea management process was
established from the very strong correlation in Figure 5.17, in which all three acts
of screening V84 (degree to which a company does screening), V85 (setting the
attributes for the screen), and V86 (actively managing the screen) had 0.5 or
better correlations with 51S (satisfaction with capturing ideas from employees).
Screening is an activity which all respondents of the survey seemed to
understand and perform (V84), yet actively managing the screen (V86) and
setting the attributes for the first screen (V85) were not as well performed with
only 43% respondents “most-the-time” or “always” performing these activities.
280

To keep an emphasize on screening activities they will be separated from


capturing activities, even though in practice they can be conducted at the same
instance. For example, an innovation director would capture an idea via a phone
call and be simultaneously screening it.
Screens can be applied before capturing, in which case it prevents certain
types of ideas from being submitted. Or screening can be practiced after
capturing in which case it prevents ideas from being stored. Out of the two
options, this researcher feels it is much worse to inhibit the capturing of ideas via
a pre-screen.
The rationality for this is simple; (1) there is very little harm in capturing a
poor idea then screening it out later, (2) it gives one the option to screen a
potentially valuable idea, and (3) it allows the employee or outside individual to
feel satisfied with their aid, and (4) it allows the screen to be malleable and post-
adjusted to allow potential great ideas (which may initially not meet the first
screen) to be captured.
The harm in having the screen before capture is (1) significant loss of
revenues and competitive advantage associated with screening out good or great
ideas, (2) it is difficult to tell if the screen is eliminating good or bad ideas, and (3)
the de-motivating effects a pre-screen would have on employee or outside
sources who would like to submit an idea.
For these reasons, screening was put after capturing in the updated
management model. Once more, individuals applying a screen should be trained
in how to apply it correctly and how to avoid de-motivate individuals while
screening ideas.

6.2. Strategic Alignment Activities


The case studies clearly demonstrated that the idea generation process requires
strategic alignment to focus its outputs; whereas, the idea management process
is purely logistical. Given this, the idea generation part of the model was
appended to include four activities designed to align the outputs of the idea
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generation process with the company’s strategic needs, and they are: (1)
reviewing the company strategy, (2) determining major areas which ideas should
be generated for based on the strategy, (3) confirming these areas, and (4)
aligning the process.
During strategic reviews companies often identify opportunity areas, areas
of strategic importance, or general areas to grow business. These strategic
initiatives are often dedicated much resources and are hopefully well thought out.
Focusing the outputs of the idea generation process toward meeting these
strategic needs is only smart. Having an idea generation process which
generates random ideas which may or may not meet strategic needs can be a
major waste of resources, and unfortunately produce great dissatisfaction with
the idea generation process.
The first activity (strategic review) should be performed by the innovation
director, VP of R&D, or chief innovation officer. Next these individuals should
determine the major areas which idea should be generated for, then these areas
should be confirmed.
The act of confirming an area can be the same as confirming an
opportunity area, but in many cases it is more high level. For example, say a
bedding company has selected bed liners to be an area to generate ideas for
because this is a major weakness of their competitors and this can be a way to
gain market share. The company would then look at that area and determine if
there is suitable room to generate ideas.
In the case of Fairbank’s Scales, one learned that their market of industrial
scales was highly mature, highly saturated, and contained limited number of new
product opportunities. Even the best idea generation activities would have had
much trouble generating ideas under these circumstances.
Interestingly, there seems to be this unspoken notion that smart
individuals or geniuses can create great ideas no matter how old or saturated the
market is, this is simply not true. This researcher has seen brilliant individuals
and even geniuses’ stall in their efforts to generate ideas for super saturated
282

markets. Further, some markets just do not need new category of products, or
new functionality because the current offering, as segmented as they are, come
close to totally satisfying the needs of their customers, and short of creating a
blue ocean market nothing of real consequent can be introduce. Remember, the
purpose of a market is to satisfy the needs of that segment of customers, and
there is only so much one can do to create demand, outside of that additional
efforts would result in a waste of money.
So during the third step of confirming an area, one should take an honest
look and determine if the selected area has room to generate and introduce new
products or services. Remember, choosing incorrectly could completely stall the
idea generation process. Conversely; keep in mind that for some opportunity
areas, customers may be satisfied with the current product offerings until a new
disruptive product arrives and shows there is much room for improvement. An
example of this is the recent improvement in windshield wipers where they are
now one solid piece, and the advancement of tube televisions to LCD flat panel
televisions.
Once the areas are confirmed, the idea generation process can then be
aligned and adapted towards generating ideas for those areas. The
understanding of which areas to generate ideas for would then be used to select
amongst the many input controls to focus the process on which people, events,
idea generation activities, or screens to select. The process controls are used to
continually insure that the idea generation process is creating ideas for those
areas.
The appropriate employees must be selected for (1) reviewing the
company strategy, (2) selecting areas to generate ideas for, and (3) confirming
these areas. Most-likely a VP of R&D, innovation director, or Chief innovation
officer is appropriate for these tasks. A different set of people can be used to
perform the forth task of aligning the idea generation process. In addition, tasks 1
to 3 must be executed correctly (process control).
283

6.3. Final Version of the Glassman Control Model


Idea Generation Processes (External or Internal)

Strategic 1. Review Strategy


Aligment 2. Select General Areas to Generate Ideas for
3. Confirm Areas
4. Align Idea Generation Process Inputs

Major Activity Points of control over that major activity

Source Selecting the sources (input)


AKA The source General incentive (input)
People

Event timing (input)


Promotion (process)
Event The Event Event Execution (process)

Selection & combination of activities


(input and process)
Idea Generation Idea Generation Execution of activities (process)
Activities Activities Tool & Resources (process)
Environment (process)
Ideas Ideas
Using ideas as stimuli for idea generation activities

Opportunity
Idea Management & Idea Banks (Internal)
Method of Capture (input)
Capture Sources of Capture (input)
Capture
Execution of capture (process)

Screen Method of screening (input)


Process check needed to tune idea generation

Screening and
and Attributes of the screen (input)
filter
Filtering
Execution of screening (process)

Method of Tagging (input)


Tagging Tagging Attribute of the Tag (input)
Execution of Tagging (process)

Method of Storage & Categorization


(input)
Storing & Execution of Storage & Categorization
categorizing (process)
Storage &
Categorization

Methods of Process Check (input)


Process People performing the Process Check
Check Process Check (input)
Execution of Process Check (process)

Methods of Diffusion & Routing (input)


People executing diffusion & routing
Diffusion & Diffusion &
(input)
Routing Routing
Incentives (input)
Execution of Diffusion & Routing

Late FFE Activities (or NPD process)

Figure 6.1. Updated Glassman Model


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APPENDICES
301

Appendix A. Concept Life Cycle

By C. Merle Crawford in New Product Management 5th Ed

Opportunity concept – a company skill, or resource, or a customer problem


Idea concept – The first appearance of an idea
Stated concept – a form or a technology, plus a clear statement of benefit
Test concept – it has passed an end user concept test, needs have been
confirmed
Full screened concept – tested and found to fit with the company’s situation
Protocol concept – a statement (product definition) of the intended user,
including the perceived problem, the benefit to users
Prototype concept – a tentative physical product or system, including features
and benefits
Batch concept – first full test of fit with manufacturing, specs are written, on
what product features will be along with their characteristics and standards
Process concept – the full manufacturing process is complete designed
Pilot concept – passes a pilot production run where the product is produced in a
small quantity and used with a small test group of users
Market concept – increased to full levels of productions
Successful concept – it meets the goal set for it at the start of the project.
302

Appendix B. Details of Stage Gate Process

Appendix B: Table showing the tasks and activities in each stage of the stage-
gate processes

Adapted from Borja de Mozota (2003)


303

Appendix C. Survey Instrument

V1 Welcome to a Research Survey on Idea Generation and Idea


Management held by Brian Glassman a Ph.D student in Innovation Management
at Purdue University, and distributed by Ryma Technology Solutions

V2-V9 This survey was designed to obtain data on current management


practices in idea generation and idea management, and is expected to directly
benefit respondents.
Here are the benefits of the survey:
1. It is a valuable self-assessment of your company's idea generation and
idea management processes. A similar assessment would cost $5K +
from a consultant
2. It will roughly show the respondents where they strong or weak in
controlling their idea generation and idea management processes.
3. It will give the respondents new ideas about how to improve their own
idea generation practices.
4. All publications, white papers, and learning’s will be email to
respondents who provide their email addresses.

V 10 This survey will take 25 mins, so please set aside sometime, or remember
to come back to when you have time. We feel this survey will be beneficial
so please strongly consider taking it. Thanks

V11 I have read and understand the terms of the information sheet and the
purpose of this study. (Html link to information sheet ) (Yes to continue)

V12 I consent to participating in this study. (Yes to continue)


304

Demographic Questions
V13 Name (optional) _________ (not disclosed)
V14 Email (optional) _________ (not disclosed)
V15 Company’s name _________ (not disclosed)
V16 Please enter the position & title you hold at your company? ________
V17 Please enter the department or functional areas you work for? ________
V18 Please enter the department or major functional area you work for? _____

V19-V33 What role do you play in your company's innovation process?


check all that apply: (No role) (project manager) (support) (technician) (division manager)
(R&D manager) (engineer) (researcher) (developer) (VP of R&D) (chief innovation officer)
(advisor) (minimal role) (supervisor) (assistance) (consultant)

V34 What part of your company’s new product or new service development
process do you manage?
(None) (1 project) (2 or more project) (One division) (The whole company’s)

Company’s Demographic Information


V37 What are the approximate revenues of your company this year?
(>100K) (100K to 500K) (500K to 1M) (50M to 500M) (500M to 1B) (1B to 5B) (5B +)

V38 What is the number of employees in your company?


(1-20) (21-50) (51-100) (101-300) (301- 500) (501-1000) (1001-5000) (5001+)

V39 What specific industry or service sector does your company operate in?
V40 What city & state is your branch of the company operating in?
V41 What is the approximate R&D budget of your company this year?
305

All of the following satisfaction questions use the following scale


(Very Dissatisfied) (Dissatisfied) (Neutral) (Satisfied) (Very Satisfied) (Do not know) (NA)

Satisfaction with Idea Generation


How satisfied are you with the:
44S Quality of the ideas produced from your company’s idea generation
process?
45S Number of ideas produced from your company’s idea generation process?
46S Ability of your company to generate a set of ideas with a specific set of
attributes? An example of this is creating ideas for a specific market, or product
ideas that can create at least 1 million in revenue and be implemented in six
months.
47S Time it takes to generate ideas?
48S Ability of your company's idea generation process to fill the front end
portfolio's needs?
49S Overall the idea generation process of your company?

Satisfaction with Idea Management


How satisfied are you with:
51S Your company’s ability to capture ideas from employees at all levels?
52S Your company’s ability to capture ideas from outside sources like
competitors, suppliers, consultants, customers, and partners?
53S Your company’s ability to store and organize captured ideas?
54S The amount, quality, & type of ideas in your company’s idea bank or idea
pool?
55S Your company’s ability to distribute or route ideas across the
organization?
56S The ability of your company's idea bank to fill the front end portfolio's
needs?
306

Satisfaction with Development


How satisfied are you with:
58S The development outcomes of ideas that enter into your pipeline?
59S The ratio of ideas that make it through to market launch?
60S Your company’s ability to convert an idea into a marketable product or
service?
61S Your company’s ability to use resources during development in an
effective manner?

Activity Questions
All of the following activity questions use the following multi-chose scale
(Never) (Rarely) (Sometimes) (Most-of-the-time) (Always) (Do not know) (NA)

Idea Generation Process Points of Control


Sources of Ideas
How frequently does your company:
V63-V72 Actively select the following groups to participate in generating ideas?
V63 Employees
V64 Customers
V65 Universities
V66 External Research Labs
V67 Suppliers
V68 Consultants
V69 Partners/Alliances
V70 Direct competitors
V71 In-direct competitors
V72 Independent Inventors

V73 Actively select participants for idea generation based on their level of
creativity or previous success in generating ideas?
307

Event Questions
To what degree does your company:
V75 Actively hold events to generate ideas? For example, idea competitions,
ideas fairs, idea campaigns, & formal requests?
V76 Actively manage these events?
V77 Provide incentives specific to these events?
V78 Provide general incentives for generating ideas? (For example a patenting
bonuses)

Idea Generation Activities


To what degree does your company:
V80 Actively select the type and mix of activities use to generate ideas.
V81 Actively manage the idea generation activities?
V82 Provide tools and resources specifically for idea generation activities?

Screening and Filtering


To what degree does your company:
V84 Screen newly submitted ideas prior to storing them, in say an idea bank?
V85 Set the attributes of the first screening for newly submitted ideas?
V86 Actively manage the first screen and filter to insure the screen is applied
correctly?
308

Capturing Ideas
To what degree does your company:
V88-V98 Accept ideas submitted from, or capture ideas by observing the
following groups?
V88 Employees
V89 Customers
V90 Universities
V91 External Research Labs
V92 Suppliers
V93 Consultants
V94 Partners/Alliances
V95 Direct competitors
V96 In-direct competitors
V97 Independent Inventors
V98 Media (magazines, publications, trade journals)

V99 Use the following methods to capturing ideas from internal or external
sources?
V99 Idea management software
V100 Idea suggestion box
V101 Particular person for capturing ideas
V102 Email
V103 Voice mail

V104 Actively manage the capturing of ideas from employees?

V105 Actively manage the capturing of ideas from outside source?


309

Tagging Ideas
V107-V112 To what degree does your company record the following
information when a new idea is submitted?
V107 Who submitted it,
V108 How it was created,
V109 What event triggered it,
V110 What activities lead to its creation
V111 Who was involved in its creation
V112 If it was created formally or Informally

Storage and Categorization of Ideas


To what degree does your company:
V115 Have a formal system for storing ideas?
V116 Actively manage the system for storing ideas?
V117 Use of the following idea storage systems
V117 Idea management software
V118 Idea data bank
V119 Idea data bank (print or physical form)
V120 Categorize ideas in the idea bank?

Process Check & Process Improvement


V122 How often do you refine the idea generation process?
V123 How much do you use the outputted ideas to refine idea generation
process?
310

Diffusing and Routing of Ideas


V125 How frequently does your product development staff refer to /search the
idea bank during idea generation activities?

V126 How frequently do your company’s employees search to the idea bank?

V127 To what degree does your company expose its’ employees to ideas from
the idea bank?

V128 How frequently do your company’s actively route particular newly


submitted ideas to the individuals who could best use them? (For example
sending a new idea about a consumer product submitted by a customer to the
consumer product director)

V132 Would you like to learn more about how to conduct and manage the idea
generation and idea management? (Yes or No)
311

Appendix D. Normative Survey Results

The following section summarizes the results obtained for the questions of the
survey. The sample was cleaned as mentioned in “Method of Analysis and
Cleaning” in chapter 5 and included 40 respondents, variations in the number of
responses are due to respondents not answering a particular question.
Additional Demographic Questions
Again the demographic of the survey sample are located the respective
section title in Chapter 5.

Scale only used for Scale only used for


Satisfaction Questions All other questions (V#) Scale for V115. Only
1 = Very Dissatisfied 1 = Never 1 = There is no system
2 = Dissatisfied 2 = Rarely 2 = Highly Informal System
3 = Neutral 3 = Sometimes 3 = Mix of Formal & Informal
4 = Satisfied 4 = Most-of-the-time 4 = Mostly Formal
5 = Very Satisfied 5 = Always 5 = Highly Formal
0 = Do not know 0 = Do not know 0 = Do not know
0 = NA 0 = NA 0 = NA
312

44S

45S How Satisfied are you with the:

46S How Satisfied are you with the:


313

47S

48S How Satisfied are you with the:

49S How Satisfied are you with the:


314

51S

52S How Satisfied are you with the:

53S How Satisfied are you with the:


315

54S How Satisfied are you with the:

55S How Satisfied are you with the:

56S How Satisfied are you with the:


316

58S

59S How Satisfied are you with the:

60S How Satisfied are you with the:


317

61S How Satisfied are you with the:

V63, V64, V65, V66, V67, V68, V69, V70, V71, V72
318

V73

V75

V76 To what degree does your company:


319

V77 To what degree does your company:

V78 To what degree does your company:

V80
320

V81 To what degree does your company:

V82 To what degree does your company:

V84
321

V85

V86
322

V87, V88, V79, V90, V91, V92, V93, V94, V95, V96, V97
323

V100, V101, V102, V103

V104

V105
324

V107, V106, V107, V108, V109, V110

V114
325

V115

V116, V117, V118, V119

V120
326

V122

V123

V125
327

V126

V127

V128
328

V132
VITA
329

VITA
Brian Glassman Brian.Glassman@Gmail.com 321-543-7165
Entrepreneurial & Consulting Activities
• Small business development consulting for 10 businesses
• Personally started 8 business

Purdue University West Lafayette, Indiana


Ph.D., in Technology,
Department of Organizational Leadership and Supervision GPA 3.88
• Specializing in commercialization of technology & innovation management
• Generalizing in management and strategy

Duke University Durham, NC


Masters of Engineering Management GPA 3.750
Graduate with Honors May-2006 no class ranking was given
• Concentration on New Product Development & Innovation
Management
GlaxoSmithKline a consulting project
• Facilitated GSK’s in implementing RFID in to their supply chain
NASA a consulting project
• Consulted for NASA’s technology transfer
Prestigious national business plan competition
• 2nd winner for pitched business to licensing executive society

University of Central Florida Orlando, FL


Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering GPA 3.635
Graduated with honors: 2nd in class (for Mechanical Eng. Masters)
US AirForce Research Labs (work experience)
• Researched and designed cooling systems for laser weapons
• Publications: 3 publications in total

Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, FL


Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering GPA 3.62
• Graduated Magna Cum Laude
• Graduate 2nd in M.E. class out of 45 students