Design Driven Innovation: Enhancing Idea Quality in Front End Idea Generation Practices in Large Multinational Companies (MNCs)

Perez Garcia, Marta (2017) Design Driven Innovation: Enhancing Idea Quality in Front End Idea Generation Practices in Large Multinational Companies (MNCs). Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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Abstract

This study is framed within the context and knowledge that companies tend to struggle when generating high quality ideas in Front End Innovation practices. Generating, evaluating and selecting good ideas require appropriate people, knowledge, tools and skills: in short, a successful idea management process. Unfortunately, this is something that many organisations still lack. Furthermore, it is widely recognised that ideas are crucial for innovation, but many organizations investing in the latter have trouble generating quality ideas that move beyond incremental and me-too offerings, implementing them and turning them into successfully commercial products and innovations. Although these issues are not new, they have not yet been adequately addressed. A second key issue and tension that underpins this study is the ‘relevance of idea quality’ versus the ‘generation of a large number of ideas’ without clear evaluation criteria. Clearly, the quality of ideas should be a core concern for organisations. However, this is an issue that can be downplayed, and some firms promote creation of a multiplicity of ideas, even though the latter frequently lack focus, and result in ephemeral and tangential concepts that cannot be translated readily into innovations. The consequences of these practices are currently impacting negatively on the quality of outcomes in frontend innovation (FEI). Awareness of these issues has raised the following question: For what reasons do large organisations struggle to generate quality ideas and how can the process be enhanced? The main aim of this study is to build upon previous work of organisations such as the Design Council and PDMA, and authors such as Ulrich and Eppinger, Barczack, Stroebe and Diehl and Baeck and Gremett. These institutions and researchers have indicated the importance of generating high quality ideas in order to drive innovation and have highlighted a series of issues around this area. The purpose of this study is to develop a Synthesised Idea Generation Framework that is able to enhance the quality of ideas generated in by addressing weaknesses in FEI. Several studies provide relevant insights into generic effective practices offering evidence of the benefits of using a formal process, multidisciplinary inputs, planning and establishment of clear evaluation criteria. The research below continues this line of 12 work but extends the analysis to examine specifically: (1) the importance of generating high quality ideas to achieve business success; (2) the range of practices and tools that MNCs typically use; (3) the effectiveness of those practices and tools; (4) the resources and understanding of FEI practices in MNCs; and (5) the factors that contribute to success and failure in FEI practices in MNCs. This study is important in two key respects. First, because this research is based on the identification of effective Idea Generation processes supported by appropriate practices and tools. This helps us to understand both current idea generation practices and the key factors impacting on idea quality. Secondly, the study highlights three influential elements in effective idea generation practices: (1) the importance of building creative confidence in individuals and teams; (2) the importance of planning and preparing for innovation in order to transform data into insights and insights into innovative solutions; and (3) the importance of the role of the group facilitator in delivering effective idea generation sessions. The research was undertaken in three phases. The initial phase involved a series of scoping interviews in one of the sample companies. The second involved the development of a series of exploratory case studies in relation to different types of innovation projects: validating the potential of a given idea, identifying the potential of a given technology, activation of an existing identified idea pipeline and generating ideas to increase new business opportunities. Following the data analysis, a third phase of ‘validation’ was undertaken via deployment of two additional case studies. These were designed to determine the validity of the results when generating new value proposition ideas to boost a specific innovation pipeline. Main findings from this study include the identification of key factors that influence idea quality, key issues in idea generation practices, and key issues in design driven innovation practices (NPD and FEI). This study provides a contribution to new knowledge by establishing that MNCS do not typically have an understanding of the key constructs needed to develop a good idea, nor do they spend enough time in preparing to generate ideas. It unpacks and details the (1) factors that impact on Idea Quality in Front End Innovation in Large Multinational organisations and develops (2) a Synthesised Idea Generation Framework that helps to 13 enhance Idea Quality. Furthermore, this study maps state-of-the-art research in this field and suggests an agenda for future investigations to stimulate and support the importance of establishing a structured idea management process in order to drive innovation outcomes.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: I would like to thank my supervisor Professor Simon Bolton for his continuous support, his marvellous way of pushing me to improve myself, to help me overcome the challenges along the way and whose teaching and advice will never be forgotten. His motivation and enthusiasm have made this journey a great adventure. Thank you Simon! I would also like to thank Dr Lawrence Green, whose advice and guidance has been essential in this study. Thanks to my parents, who have always encouraged me to follow my path and chase my dreams. Last but not least, my deepest gratitude to my partner Oscar, who has been my biggest motivator in times of strength but also of weakness. He has never stopped demonstrating his kindness along this challenging journey and has never complained about it. I could not think of a better partner.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Front End Innovation, Idea Generation Practices, Idea Quality, Design Driven Innovation.
Subjects: N100 Business studies
W200 Design studies
Divisions: REF UoA Output Collections > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Users 18 not found.
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2018 19:07
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2019 11:14
URI: http://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/5014

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