Managing product innovation in the process industries – the blinab way

Uncover the intrinsic nature of innovation of non-assembled products and develop and design a corporate product innovation work process of excellence.

The goal should be to identify the organizational configurations most suited to specific technological and market environments, rather than to seek a single ideal or best-practice model for any context. In that respect, research on the management of innovation has only just begun”.
Professor Joe Tidd

Formal product innovation work processes and business process management – and introduction and posing seven HOW questions

A transparent, well-designed product innovation work process will serve as a “map” and “compass” for effective and efficient product innovation and should thus image company innovation best practices and procedures. For new employees in company R&D organization, a product innovation work process should be an important part of a workplace introduction; getting acquainted with company best practices in product innovation. For experienced innovation practitioners, it should be a vehicle for sharing and accumulating new knowledge and operational innovation experiences, in a never-ending refinement and development of a product innovation work process of excellence. A formal product innovation work process should be an instrument for ”organizational learning” – not perceived  as an administrative hindrance.

Some important questions to be asked in a company analysis and development of a ”formal” product innovation work process:

  • Who is the ”owner” of the work process in the company, and who is responsible for work process improvements (the owner is generally not the user)?
  • Which are the work process interfaces – where does the process start and stop?
  • How is company cross-functional integration and external collaboration stimulated and secured in work process design?
  • How is the work process ”map” depicted, explained, and presented to the users in order to facilitate its understanding and use?
  • How is the work process managed within the company organization – gate structure manning and related check-lists (go-revise-stop)?
  • How well does it function for projects of different complexity – delivery of output and work process usability?
  • Is there room for further improvements – and if so, how to go forward?

Revitalize and redesign the corporate product innovation work process for the development of non-assembled products – using the novel “structural process model” as a template

In search of a product innovation work process of excellence for non-assembled products a company must reconceptualize its formal product innovation work process to process-industrial operational conditions. In the orchestration of a dynamic interaction between product and process innovation throughout the total product innovation work process the novel generic five-phase “Structural Process Model” can be deployed as a guiding template for company development of non-assembled products.

Uncover the intrinsic nature of innovation of non-assembled products and develop and design a corporate product innovation work process of excellence

Delineate the main phases of the “structural process model” and incorporate complementary work process design perspectives

The contents of the four gates and gate-structures are omitted since they must be developed and designed in consideration to corporate specific product/market contextual conditions.

1. The Contextualization phase
Align new product ideas with the corporate business model, product innovation strategy, and product portfolio

2. The Pre-product development phase
Transform product ideas into multiple, well-defined, integrated, and measurable concepts – taking the fuzziness out of the “fuzzy front-end” of the product innovation work process

3. The Product development phase
Delineate alternative product development routes and the scale-up concepts – moving product ideas from conceptualization to industrialization

4. The Post-product development phase
Integrate the “industrialization process” into the product innovation work process and secure early equipment suppliers’ involvement – taking the “bumpiness” out of the bumpy back-end of industrialization and start-up.

Product Service Offerings
Uncover the company PSO strategy and the development of product-service offerings related to the “core-product” – a step-by-step transformation from a product supplier to a solution provider

5. The Post-launch follow-up phase
Invigorate the use of Application development as a prime instrument for securing an efficient B2B commercialization during and after product launch – compressing the timeline for new product break-even

6. A feed-back loop from each project with new customer insights and ideas for an improved innovation work process
Utilize post-launch reviews as the main feed-back loop to product design in sharing and learning experiences from successful and not-so-successful new ventures – lowering the risk of future product introductions.

7. Deploy supporting methodologies for the product innovation work process
Take advantage of Innovation methodologies and Design Thinking as supporting instruments and tools for efficient product innovation and develop a company specific “tool-box” supported by company “super-users”.

8. Institutionalize Integrated Knowledge Platforms (IKPs) for individual product families
Amalgamate “explicit” and “tacit” information about customers, products, related process technology and raw materials for each product family into a solid and reusable platform of knowledge for the development of next product generation.

9. Introduce sustainability and product eco-design as an overarching perspective throughout the total product innovation work process
Boost a sustainability perspective and an organizational mindset for company transformation into CO2-neutrality and eco-design from ideation to product launch.

10. Deploy a digitalized product innovation work process as an instrument for organizational learning
Digitalize the product innovation work process for a holistic perspective on product innovation performance, and to secure digitalized customer and product information.

blinab consulting activities in the area of Management of Product Innovation

A one-day in-house seminar in Managing Product Innovation in the Process Industries

Such a seminar is a “stand-alone activity”, but it can also be the first step in the use of blinab services in the development or reconfiguration of a corporate product innovation work process.

Revitalize and redesign the corporate product innovation work process

During the assistance of a number of companies in different sectors of the process industries in their development of a “unique” product innovation work process, blinab has established a well-proven model and working practice for corporate work process development, implementation, and operational use. The novel “structural process model” is nowadays deployed as a template for the first stage (A) of work process configuration.

A. Develop and design of a Structural Process Map adapted to company operational and specific product/market conditions
In “process mapping” the first activity is usually to construct a structural process map that identifies the customers for the work process output and the suppliers of the process input. For companies in the process industries the generic “structural process model” serve this purpose. In this map, selected gates (decision points) are delineated and supplementary information about decision groups is clarified. Associated checklists must then be developed defining the criteria for decisions at each gate.

B. Expand the Structural Process Map into an explanatory Cross-functional Process Map and a guiding framework for intra- and – inter technology transfer
The structural process map should afterwards be further developed into a cross-organizational process map, identifying both internal and external interactions during work process execution. Such maps can be developed in Microsoft “Power-point” or “Excel” programs.

C. Take an organizational perspective on work process implementation, and develop a Mini-guide to facilitate company proper use of the work process
A formal work process should be a living document and the structural process maps and checklists must be supplemented with a work process description. Such a work process description shall in an overarching manner integrate all information in the process maps and checklists. It is important to find a proper balance between the necessary time and resources needed to answer the different checklists and efficient project work. Do not make the checklists too complicated in the early phases and allow a certain maturity time within the organization. A work process description is usually in the format of 10-15 A4 pages and will gradually evolve and expand into a proper ”mini-guide” and an image of company best-practice in the topical area. The mini-guide will advise the user how to deploy the work process as a supporting instrument for successful product innovation.