The changing process of innovation

Date of publication: June 15, 1992

Author: Richard Brookes

Abstract:

In today's high-speed markets companies are having to learn new ways of handling the process of innovation. This paper examines the reasons for this change, and the ways that some automobile companies are introducing their own forms of high-speed innovation. The paper is divided into three parts. The first part discusses why the process of innovation in some automobile companies may now resemble the processes in other consumer "temp-tech" durable goods firms. Many car firms operate in ways that are quite different from those suggested by proponents of the "classical" approach to marketing. At issue is the question: "Should companies be market-led or technology-driven?" Today, companies have no choice but to balance both these approaches and, as a result, they are working to a different set of "rules" from the "classical" ones. The second part examines what some of these possible new "rules" are, whilst acknowledging that many of them are in a state of constant change: -1 Set impossible targets; -2 Start from a position of strength - the firm’s core competencies; -3 Think new Products quickly, and again and again; -4 Think "experimental marketing - even in the marketplace; -5 "Fuse" technologies; -6 "Manage" the process of innovation; -7 Leverage global R&D facilities and expertise - but market locally; -8 When stuck, collaborate; -9 Harness the potential of lean and flexible manufacturing; -10 Connect information technologies to form the "wired" corporation and a "seamless" R&D process; and -11 "Manage" shorter model life cycles in order to complement the shorter R&D cycle times. Since these approaches are likely to challenge the conventional wisdom about how marketing is currently practiced, the third part raises some strategic and structural implications for automobile companies.

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