Innovation is Changing Pre-Product Development R&D

Innovation-Enabling Tools & Software for Individuals and Product Pipelines, August 15, 2013, discusses the decade-long growth of the innovation body of knowledge that has lead to new software and other tools that are achieving penetration across industries in this early market.

The nature of innovation tools and software is quite the opposite of the deterministic practices that have been the rage since the mid-80s. You may expect that there is hesitancy and resistance. You may be right. But, gradually, corporations are realizing that “innovation in the pipeline” cannot solely mean “execution.” A typical product pipeline will contain perhaps a hundred sets of “design tools” across the value creation process. An inventory of those tools in most companies today will find them to be nearly 100% deterministic.

For the moment, compartmentalization of innovation tools and software is the general management style. Most are used in pre-pipeline creation activities, very early in the pipeline, or after launch to add value or to revive a commercialized product.  And, usually only in special circumstances as a last resort.

The body of knowledge of value engineering is pretty mature and the capabilities provided by most innovation tools today are quite incremental, except for the most complex and expensive ones. The same applies for early product design and development.  Triz-based tools have caught attention though as they have lead to the creation and/or redesign of many consumer products, such as the non-cylindrical water bottle.

Relatively speaking, pre-product development stands to be the area that will benefit the most from the initial generation of innovation tools and software. There are currently less formalized tool sets at this stage of product creation.

Applied Research and Advanced Development organizations are growing as CEOs shave off small percentages from Product Development and allocate them earlier in the quest for innovation. Industry leaders started this in the late 1990s and kept it under their hats. Many more are doing it now. As such, the definition and formalization of “advanced” organizations is a hot management topic.

Perhaps the thorniest issue is to determine the “advanced strategy.” The availability of a separated resource pool of highly technical folks is very tempting to leaders that control resources.  Product roadmaps get intermixed with technology roadmaps.  Throw in a little short term convenience, a few problems that need an expert, and a perception of underloading because the output is different.  The result is pre-product developers that are juggling activities of very different durations, across the spectrum of raw creation to emergency problem solving.

Innovation is Changing Pre-Product Development R&D [Machine Design – September 5, 2013], discusses the growth and maturation of Advanced Development organizations and then offers a definition and thoughts on an appropriate strategy and staffing for advanced capabilities.

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