Facilitating Innovation Capability of Swiss SMEs
In recent years, product life cycles continue to decrease and the global pressure on innovations continues to increase. Therefore, many organisations do not question innovation per se but rather ask how to innovate more successfully.
Big companies can afford to invest in think tanks and creativity departments to develop new products within a very short lead time. However, even leading niche small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are often deeply embedded in their local environment and context, cannot afford to do the same.
An external ideation hub supplemented with coaching sessions that can be booked for a few days seem to be a promising way to help SMEs develop new concepts for products, services and businesses. However, booking an ideation workshop requires major commitment on the part of the SMEs as their opportunity costs are essential for their businesses.
The Mobiliar Forum Thun provides Swiss SMEs with the possibility to participate in coached ideation workshops to develop ideas and prototypes for new products, services and business models. The workshops are based on thought principles such as human-centered design, iterative and rapid prototyping, and the need to take home a tangible project vision.
In our research, we focus on iterations in the fuzzy front end of product development processes and their impact on the innovative capabilities of companies. Thus, our main research questions are: What are the characteristics of iterations in the early phases of product development processes? What is the impact of iterations in product development processes on the organisation and the business results? And how can iterations be dealt with in order to improve the performance of product development processes?