I recently came across the article, Accelerating Innovation: Some lessons from the Pandemic, written by Robert G. Cooper. In the article, Cooper outlines the following five approaches to accelerate development:
What are some of the lessons you learned about accelerating innovation during the pandemic?
Cooper, R.G. (2021), Accelerating innovation: some lessons from the pandemic. J Prod Innov Manag. Accepted Author Manuscript. https://doi-org.huaryu.kl.oakland.edu/10.1111/jpim.12565
------------------------------Megan CampbellStudentOakland University
I really appreciate you finding and sharing this article on the forum – it was truly inspirational! From a macro level, this article was very insightful and could provide numerous job industries (i.e., pharmaceutical, automotive, and information technology) with different ways to look at how innovation can be accelerated. The specific examples from the various companies were also great tools to show just how the lesson could be applied to real life business decisions. As I sat here reading the article, several examples came to mind on how this could be applied to processes/decisions within my organization (tier 1 automotive supplier).
Instead of commenting on all the five lessons, I wanted to focus on the various areas that were the most influential. I am delighted to say that my organization is already partaking in some of these accelerated strategies as well. On page 9 of the article (under lesson 3: Digital Tools to Accelerate Knowledge Generation), the author (Robert G. Cooper) discussed 3D printing and rapid prototyping. Prior to the pandemic, my organization was notorious for procuring prototype tooling so we could test/trial our prototype modules. Although the prototype tooling had a drastically shorter lead time – when compared to production tooling – it was still very expensive. The shift I have seen over the last year is [us using] using rapid prototyping for parts in our modules. Although this method is still very expensive, it is still drastically cheaper then kicking off the prototype tools. Regarding lead times, there is no comparison here. From purchase order to product in hand, we can have several of our products in house within 3-10 days (vs. the 8-10 weeks on prototype tooling). With respect to this lesson, I would agree that this method can have a huge advantage on both costs and timing.
Another topic within lesson three that I found interesting was the comment made about digital testing technologies. This discussion element really got me thinking about my own organization. For example, there are only so many climatic wind tunnels within the United States and my organization owns a high percentage of them. We currently simulate years of 'certain conditions' to understand just how the environment will affect our products. If we are already doing this on a larger vehicle scale, why not investigate developing (or utilizing) digital technologies that can test some of our products at a lower component level? Throughout my many projects I generally hear the same capacity constraints – limited test stand availability and the timing is "x" weeks long. The insight here – perhaps there are alternative testing strategies that have been developed within the last year that my organization can implement within our own processes.
In section 4: Lean Development, I enjoyed the discussion surrounding removing unwanted tasks. If certain elements are not deemed to be critical (and are non-value add), simply removing these items could improve timing. There was also a specific example that I could also relate to as well. Right now, several of my projects are having pressures from the OEM's to reduce timing. Many of these discussions have similar bottlenecks – timing associated with production tooling. Perhaps what my organization can do here is pilot a few projects where we pull ahead some of the tool sourcing (perhaps ordering the steel and implementing minimal design cuts) so it can reduce timing within the overall lead time. If we pull ahead some of the sourcing decisions (with lower risk), we could shave off weeks in the timing that we communicate to our customers.
Although accelerating innovation is attractive, there are also many risks. As the article touched on in the very beginning, merely working harder/faster is not a suitable solution. This can lead to very expensive changes / expedites and drastically affect the ROS on a project. Instead, organizations need to re-think how they are doing certain tasks and look throughout their entire value chain. At the end of your article you asked about lessons that we learned regarding accelerating innovation during the pandemic. This is a very important question and can be beneficial for companies to evaluate. The specific lesson my organization learned- be very transparent and collaborative with your customer. When discussions emerge around improving timing, don't just agree and then tell them at the 11th hour that it cannot be achieved. Be collaborative with your customer and let them decide which door they want to go through. Just make sure that the doors you provide are achievable…------------------------------Daniel GrafMBA StudentOakland University------------------------------