1. Contrast the responsibilities in your company, for product development, of functional managers including marketing and R&D, and of product development managers. How are these responsibilities integrated? And by whom?
2. In a product development project team in your company, compare the responsibilities of the project leaders and the team members. Do these responsibilities vary among project teams? What causes variations in responsibilities among teams - differences in type of project, team leader, the composition of the team?
3. What is your company's balance between efficiency and effectiveness in product development projects? Does the balance vary between projects? If so, what is causing the variations?
4. What are the stumbling blocks in your company for increasing the efficiency of product development - lack of people, resources, and knowledge; over-ambitious projects; too many projects; faulty or misapplied PD Process; lack of discipline, no leadership?
People are the most important factor in product development. There are the core team members and there is the greater team, including support groups. A great variety of knowledge and skills is required and this needs to be integrated into a complex network supporting the product development. There is no question today that the linear progression from science to innovation has changed into an interdisciplinary relationship (Ganguly, 1999) as shown in Fig. 6.11. There are four important factors in the network:
1. Integration of the sciences.
2. Integration of the technologies in the total technology.
3. Interaction of the science and technology continuously.
4. Interaction of the science and technology in innovation.
The physical and mathematical sciences are part of all technology, in combination with chemistry and biology in process technology and with social sciences in total technology. The science can be developed separately but often is developed as part of the technology. Technology often cannot wait for the results of the basic science research but has to do the research to solve a basic technology problem. This is true in all areas, for example consumer research cannot wait for research in the social sciences but has to do the research now to solve the consumer problem. So basic research can be in technology as well as in science. Interaction also occurs in the other direction, basic science can come from a theoretical problem but often it comes from a problem identified in the science environment, which includes technology. The latter is often called strategic science, as it has a direction.
Therefore in the innovation process there is a continuous interaction between the development of the product and the science and technology. This interdisciplinary network, which vibrates backwards and forwards during the development, presents a very complex personnel management problem - in selection of people both outside and inside the company with the necessary knowledge, skills and creativity, and then coordinating them into a vibrant, interacting, communicating network. The company needs to have the ability to sustain a leading-edge competence over long periods (Ganguly, 1999), by selecting and educating staff, by careful selection of the outside personnel and building a relationship with them. Sometimes to solve a problem that has arisen, there may be a need to bring in an outside agency or consultant; but to be of value for the people in the network, the agency needs to have knowledge and understanding of the company. All this seems to fly in the face of the company's perceived need for secrecy in innovation, and has led to an increase in intellectual property agreements.
The networks can be inside the company and also connecting the company personnel to academics, technical consultants, research associations, consumer and market research companies, and innovation management consultants. There has been an increasing interaction of academic and government research with industrial research in companies, often encouraged by government organisations and grants. In all Western countries, the increasing need for these networks has been recognised because technology has been progressing so fast that it is difficult for companies to stay ahead. This also happened in the middle to the end of the nineteenth century in Scotland, during the Industrial Revolution, when the communication between academics and industrial technologists was not only close but their work was interrelated. In a time of fast innovation, academic research can get behind industrial research, and industry can be left with basic research problems, which cannot be solved in the time available. As the major problems cannot be solved, product development can make only small incremental changes; this can result in stagnation of the company and perhaps death. This stresses the importance of the interaction between the company research and external research to maintain the rate of innovation. Box 6.2 illustrates some academic and government research with possible applications.
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