International Journal of Business Management & Research (IJBMR) ISSN 2249-6920 Vol. 3, Issue 2, Jun 2013, 19-32 © TJPRC Pvt. Ltd.
A STRUCTURED APPROACH TO INNOVATION THROUGH “LA SALLE MATRIX THINKING” RENU BHARGAVA Director, Indira School of Business Studies, Tathwade, Pune, Maharashtra, India
ABSTRACT The paper presented involves a review of Matrix Thinking presented by Roger La Salle, who is the creator of the "Matrix Thinking"™ technique. The author has presented the concepts developed by Roger La Salle in his Matrix Thinking. Author has explored Rogers‟s advocacy in using structured methods for managing business innovation to become an effective way to improve the ideation process. In this paper, structured models of innovation and product development are reviewed and an approach to them is presented, based on research conducted by Roger and brief cases presented which represent examples of some products and relevant innovation attached in their development. The conclusion brings forth implications for managers, such as the need to train employees in structured methods, and the implications for those who teach innovation management are discussed. The structured approach to innovative and opportunistic thinking is represented by several purpose developed thinking platforms (Matrices) that have been developed into complete learning modules delivered through agents in more than 26 countries as researched by Roger and more recently licensed to Deloitte, one of the world‟s largest consulting firms for e-learning (Roger LaSalle, 2010). In support of the aim of the paper, it is not the intention of the author to provide exhaustive critical reviews of the literature. Such a task would be an onerous, voluminous and ultimately unnecessary because exhaustive literature reviews already exist. For the purpose of this paper, a select sample of pertinent literature that support the arguments made is included in the review. According to the author the thinking matrices such as those presented, or purpose built matrices, depending on the issue at hand are a powerful way to harness the combined power of a group of people for the development of new insights and knowledge. The author suggests the utilization of this Matrix for Opportunity Capture and Systematic Thinking. The matrices presented provide more than 100 such thinking stimuli in a structured matrix format that gets everybody “on the same page” and all making innovative contributions to the problem at hand (Roger 2002). The managerial implications, including the need to train employees in structured methods and creativity, are also analyzed. The first section of this paper presents a literature review covering topics such as structured methodologies and new product development (NPD) education. The second section deals with analysis of Rogers Matrix Thinking and in the third section of conclusion the author prescribes Matrix Thinking and its conceptualization in driving innovation and presents the view that teaching structured methods is a potent way to enhance the innovative capabilities of companies and to develop creative products for the marketplace.
KEYWORDS: Innovation, Opportunity, Business Plan, Market Risk, Matrix Thinking INTRODUCTION Innovation is responsible for raising the quality and lowering the prices of products and services that have dramatically improved consumers‟ lives. By finding new solutions to problems, innovation destroys existing markets, transforms old ones, or creates new ones. It can bring down giant incumbents while propelling small outsiders into dominant positions. Without innovation, incumbents slowly lose both sales and profitability as competitors innovate past them. Innovation provides an important basis by which world economies compete in the global marketplace. Innovation is
a broad topic, and a variety of disciplines address various aspects of innovation, including marketing, quality management, operations management, technology management, organizational behavior, product development, strategic management, and economics. Research on innovation has proceeded in many academic fields with incomplete links across those fields. For example, research on market pioneering typically does not connect with that on diffusion of innovations or the creative design of new products. Thus, innovation remains at the top of the corporate agenda. Innovation, as Drucker (2002) argued, is mostly the result of hard work rather than a product of genius; the most innovative business ideas are thus considered to be the result of a methodical search for new opportunities and ideas. This continual quest for breakthrough ideas for products, services and novel means to commercialize them has led some authors to proclaim that a new paradigm of innovation based on creativity is emerging (Business Week, 2005).Particular attention is nowadays being devoted to the topics of creativity and the use of structured methods and the manner in which they can foster improvements in the product development process. In this paper, the experience of teaching structured methods for innovation and product development is explored. Through the discussion of several examples presented by Roger through his Matrix Thinking, the author seeks to demonstrate not only the usefulness of systematic methods of product design, but also that these methods, when applied correctly, do not stifle creativity but enable more significant product concepts. Today‟s business environment requires companies to develop new products in an effective, efficient and sustainable manner in order to guarantee their long-term survival. At the same time, modern NPD projects are very often complex and risky, and thus demand tight planning and coordination. This in turn requires the implementation of structured design methods (Leenders, Van Engelen & Kratzer, 2007). Structured design methods are also known as systematic design methods. Successful products are usually developed through the collective efforts of individuals in NPD teams, composed of creative people generally seen as being nonconformist, and thus the management of their creativity is critical (Shapero, 1985; Nemeth, 1997; Leenders, Van Engelen & Kratzer, 2007). Leenders, Van, Engelen & Kratzer (2007) studied the effect of using structured methods on the creative performance of NPD teams, taking a particular look at the pattern of communication among team members. They found that a systematic design approach „need not hammer team-level creative achievement as long as systematic design is used with care‟. According to Leenders et al., the approach requires the balanced use of the four principles which they argue characterize modern systematic design. Firstly, the principle of hierarchical decomposition needs to be applied (i.e., breaking the overall product down into semi-independent components). Then, the principle of systematic variation, which brings about variations on established themes through the reordering and recombination of existing elements. Thirdly, the principle of satisficing (i.e., finding alternatives that provide an acceptable solution, following a search over a reasonable period of time). Finally, the principle of discursiveness (where solutions are sought in a step-by-step approach versus the use of intuitive methods in which the problem-solving process takes place unconsciously thus requiring undisturbed thinking). Stemple and Badke-Schaub (2002) studied team communication and the thinking process in design and proposed a theory of the basic elements of design thinking, which is composed of four basic cognitive operations: generation, exploration, comparison and selection. In design space in general or in a specific problem space, Stemple and BadkeSchaub (2002) believe that the problem-solving process should aim to match a goal space (which is limited in terms of its flexibility) with the solution space (which is very large, since it represents many possible solutions in general). Solutions are generated and then are explored in the light of the goal space. Figure 1 illustrates the generic model of the design process and the underlying basic thinking operations. Consumer innovativeness is the propensity of consumers to adopt new products. As Hirschman (1980, p. 283) suggested, “Few concepts in the behavioral sciences have as much immediate relevance to consumer behavior as innovativeness.” Research on consumer innovativeness focuses on the characteristics that differentiate how fast or eagerly consumers adopt new products. We classify this research as focusing on the measurement of innovativeness, its relatedness to other constructs, and innovativeness variance across cultures. If
A Structured Approach to Innovation through “La Salle Matrix Thinking”
innovativeness is a valid predictor for new-product adoption, then measures of innovativeness should identify those consumers most likely to adopt new products so that firms can target marketing efforts and improve forecasts. Over decades, researchers have developed and proposed numerous scales that differ in their theoretical premise, internal structure, and purpose (Midgeley and Dowling, 1987). There has been no attempt to synthesize research or findings across all these different scales, although Roehrich (2004) has reviewed and classified them into two groups: (1) life innovativeness scales and (2) adoptive innovativeness scales. The life innovativeness scales focus on the propensity to innovate at a general behavioral level. They describe attraction to any kind of newness and not to the adoption of specific new products. Exploratory acquisition is similar to innovativeness expressed in information seeking. Despite extensive research, progress in this area has been hindered by a lack of consensus about a most appropriate scale. Actually, researchers have not yet agreed about a single definition of innovativeness. Current definitions vary from an innate openness to new ideas and behavior, to propensity to adopt new products, to actual adoption and usage of new products. Many researchers have used the measures of innovativeness to study its relationship to other constructs. Another stream of research uses innovativeness measures combined with other observable characteristics such as marketing strategy, marketing communication, and category characteristics to predict actual trial probability for a new product (Steenkamp and Katrijn 2003).Whether firms wish to organize for innovation or they want to match organizational and innovation goals, they must understand the drivers of innovative potential. Some of the key unanswered issues are:
Role of a firm‟s internal culture in influencing innovation, including factors such as willingness to cannibalize, visionary leadership, future market orientation, and customer orientation;
Differences in the drivers of innovation by innovation type (product versus process), category (products versus services), and other characteristics; of particular interest are interactions, rather than just main effects;
Impact of macro environmental factors such as research clusters, research incubators, and governmental policies (taxes, incentives, and regulation) on innovation;
Impact of cultures and ethnicity on innovative capabilities
REVIEW OF LITERATURE Structured Methods of New Product Development (NPD) In this segment the author brings forth the relevance of structured methods of teaching to enhance the innovative capabilities of companies and to develop creative products for the marketplace. Overall, marketing is well positioned to participate in the understanding and management of innovation within firms and markets, because a primary goal of innovation is to develop new or modified products for enhanced profitability. A necessary component of profitability is revenue, and revenue depends on satisfying customer needs better or more efficiently than competitors can satisfy those needs. Research in marketing is intrinsically customer and competitor based (Hauser, Tellis, and Griffin). Our review of the literature, therefore, starts with our understanding of customers and their response to and acceptance of innovation. Because we are interested in how firms profit from innovation, the paper then reviews organizational issues associated with successfully innovating and with how organizations adopt innovations. Customer understanding and the organizational context are underpinnings to innovating successfully. They must be in place before proceeding. Typical Consumer Response to Innovations can be: “I don‟t want to invent anything that nobody will buy.” The success of innovations depends ultimately on consumers accepting them. Successful innovation rests on first understanding customer needs and then developing products that meet those needs. Our review of the literature starts with understanding customers. Research in many disciplines, but especially in marketing, has long sought to describe, explain, and predict how consumers and
markets respond to innovation. A vast body of research has developed on the behavioral and decision aspects of this quest (Gatignon and Robertson 1985, 1991) and on the dynamics by which new products diffuse through a population (Rogers 2003). Today‟s business environment requires companies to develop new products in an effective, efficient and sustainable manner in order to guarantee their long-term survival. At the same time, modern NPD projects are very often complex and risky, and thus demand tight planning and coordination. This in turn requires the implementation of structured design methods (Leenders, Van Engelen & Kratzer, 2007). Structured design methods are also known as systematic design methods. Successful products are usually developed through the collective efforts of individuals in NPD teams, composed of creative people generally seen as being non-conformist, and thus the management of their creativity is critical (Shapero, 1985; Nemeth, 1997; Leenders, Van Engelen & Kratzer, 2007). Leenders, Van Engelen & Kratzer (2007) studied the effect of using structured methods on the creative performance of NPD teams, taking a particular look at the pattern of communication among team members. They found that a systematic design approach „need not hammer team-level creative achievement as long as systematic design is used with care‟. According to Leenders et al., the approach requires the balanced use of the four principles which they argue characterize modern systematic design. Firstly, the principle of hierarchical decomposition needs to be applied (i.e., breaking the overall product down into semi-independent components).Then, the principle of systematic variation, which brings about variations on established themes through the reordering and recombination of existing elements. Thirdly, the principle of satisficing (finding alternatives that provide an acceptable solution, following a search over a reasonable period of time). Finally, the principle of discursiveness (where solutions are sought in a step-by-step approach versus the use of intuitive methods in which the problem-solving process takes place unconsciously thus requiring undisturbed thinking). The aim of this study is to convey to the reader the importance of finding out whether, and to what extent, training on the deployment of structured methods for product design can lead to more creative and innovative product ideas.
ANALYSIS OF ROGERS MATRIX THINKING Roger has presented structured approach to innovative and opportunistic thinking represented by several purposes developed thinking platforms (Matrices) that have been developed into complete learning modules that can be delivered. Following is excerpt of several concepts which can lead to an understanding of deployment of structured methods for product design that can lead to more creative and innovative product ideas: Reducing the Risk of Business Plans In the area of NPD, the question often asked is “what makes a purchase decision?” Turning now to the question of reducing the risk in writing business plans, the answers lie in understanding the market, the value proposition, the value chain and the real meaning of innovation? In simplistic terms people only purchase things for one reason, they see value for money. Be it a power tool or a Rolex watch. The value proposition simplified says: If I invest A$ to get B, I will only do so if I believe that B is at least equal to or greater than A$. We need to understand this value equation and relate it to the venture on which we are about to embark. In addition we need to consider the participants in the chain of events that will get a product to the market. This is commonly referred to as the “value chain” and includes all the players from the inventor or creator to the purchaser, the user and now evens the disposer. All players in the value chain need to have a positive value proposition. Even in the case of “loss leader” items, the sums have been very carefully done to ensure the ultimate value or return on the investment. Notice also that in some cases the user is not the purchaser. Such cases need special consideration as to what value the purchaser gains. This case may apply to purchases of special treats or toys for children. But there are also examples of industrial products that have failed because of a failure to understand that the purchaser was not the one deriving the ultimate value.
A Structured Approach to Innovation through “La Salle Matrix Thinking”
Understanding Market Risk; quantifiable value propositions together with low novelty To gain a snap shot of market risk consider the diagram shown in Figure 1 that can be representative of any product or service.
Figure 1: New Product Market Risk Map
On the horizontal axis are the sectors that characterize everything, these being Industrial/Commercial products and services, Consumer products and services and finally Fashion and products and services. In the case of industrial/commercial products such as power tools, fax machines, and high speed photocopiers etc., the value proposition can usually be easily quantified and a rational purchase decision reached. In the case of consumer products, advertising is what attempts to establish a value proposition, such as “this brand tooth paste cleans whitest of all” etc. People who are not moved by this type of argument often purchase lower priced home brand items. Finally there are the fashion items where the value propositions are so abstract they beggar belief. Fashion companies spend many millions of dollars establishing their “Brand” as their value proposition. On the vertical axis is the degree of novelty. How new is it as newness often spells high risk. It is important to understand where your offering fits on this map. The blue area depicted in in figure-1 is the ideal place to be because items in this area usually have a quantifiable value propositions together with low novelty that allows people to relate to and understand what they are purchasing. Any mechanic will instantly relate to the benefits of a double ended spanner compared with a single ended one. The top left hand yellow area in figure-1 represents products that when introduced were completely novel. These include such things as the photocopier, the fax machine, the PC and even the internet. The thing common to all these high novelty products is that they all had long and difficult gestation periods. People simply could not relate to them or how they could be best used. Indeed many of these products took decades to pervade the market. Moving to the top right hand corner in figure-1, it is virtually impossible to make even the vaguest estimate of the likely sales volume of such an abstract product where the value is virtually impossible to understand. True the Rubik‟s Cube was a remarkable success, but who could have confidently forecast that in advance? The same sort of thinking can be applied to intangible products, such as services as represented in the Market Risk Map shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Market Risk Map
On the top right hand corner in Figure 2 could be the psychoanalysts and perhaps personal trainers. When these services were first introduced they were high novelty, certainly in the fashion space, ultimately moving to the consumer space. In the lower right hand corner there may be “in” restaurants, bars and coffee shops. How they became “in” is an interesting question worthy of exploration, though not in this paper. The fact is, once an „in place‟ has the name as „somewhere to be seen‟ its stocks rise dramatically. In the bottom left hand corner in Figure 2 are industrial/commercial services of low novelty. In this area we may identify much of the accommodation industry, hotels, motels and the like. Clearly there is a need for accommodation for executives and travelers going back for centuries. The opportunity to provide better, different or innovated accommodation arrangements is obvious and has spawned a vast market today ranging from budget motels, through hotels to five, six and even seven star accommodation and more recently the strong growth in serviced apartments. This is a classic example of an innovation in a service enterprise where changes are constantly being made to win new customers. In the top left hand corner in Figure 2 we may position the credit card when it was originally introduced. The credit card took more than a decade to start to really become popular, thus eventually moving from the top of the diagram to the bottom. For most people the credit card may seem to be a consumer service, but for the vendor, eager to find an easier trouble free way of winning your purchase, the credit card may be a commercial service. Notice also, as discussed previously American Express and then VISA were followers of Diners Club, and in fact VISA has now overtaken Diners as the card preferred by most vendors in most places. Once again when we look at the market risk one may seriously query whether it‟s a good idea to be first or it‟s a better idea to be second or third and simply innovate the offering of the first into the market and do it better. This is a valid and significant way to do business and it‟s all based on the premise of innovation; that is changing what is already in the market to add value and go back to the market with a better offering at perhaps even a better price. It is a very low risk way of doing business and is almost bound to succeed. The credit card, from its shaky beginnings with just 20,000 users after its first introduction has now grown to be one of the worlds‟ most used financial transaction instruments. People carry multiple credit cards because of their security, convenience, the ability they afford people to purchase virtually anything at a whim, as well as removing the
A Structured Approach to Innovation through “La Salle Matrix Thinking”
need to carry excess cash. Once the widespread acceptance of the credit card was achieved, the business card became very competitive forcing the card companies to innovate their original offering to provide value added services in the hope of winning customers from competitors, as well as attracting new users. Innovated benefits of the credit card now include airline points, monthly statement acceptable to taxation authorities as valid receipts, deferred payments (of course incurring huge interest rates), instant cash. Credit cards are now even seen as status symbols and a sign of financial standing to anybody interested enough to observe, with Gold, Platinum or even Diamond cards now available. A final example of a service with slow beginning that has now overtaken the world and spawned a host of new consequential businesses is the internet and the creation of the Internet Service Provider (ISP), a term barely thought of just 20 years ago. Today the internet is ubiquitous and having world changing effects with large numbers if ISP‟s now available and all offering some form of special attraction to have us use their services. The idea of a connection of computers enabling easy and rapid communication is credited to Vinton Cerf as part of a project sponsored by the USA Defense Department in the early 1970‟s. The creation of the World Wide Web in 1989 is attributed to English computer scientist Timothy Berners-Lee for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). From relatively slow beginnings in the 1970‟s the internet would now rate as one of the standout inventions of the 20 th century. Again, with this novel technology we see a relatively slow gestation period before acceptance, much like the credit card, then explosive growth. Notice also that once the internet and interconnectivity had become an accepted part of the everyday life, it has thus repositioned itself in the eyes of the market from the high novelty industrial commercial space to that of low novelty in both the industrial commercial and the consumer space. Clearly, if you can relate an offering to its location on the market risk map a much clearer understanding of the possible risks in the business can be realized, and efforts made to find ways to move the offering to the lower left hand sector. Repositioning Offering to Reduce Risk How repositioning a products offering can reduce risk can be inferred from Figure 3 which brings forth the benefit in trying to find ways to reposition your offering and move it to the lower left hand corner of the Figure 3. In other words try and find the customer “touch point” that would see your offering as providing some sort of realizable value. In some cases this is difficult, especially in the world of fashion, but it is still not impossible. For example, why would anybody buy a Mercedes Benz car for say, $160,000 when they could purchase a Korean car with a longer time and unlimited kilometer warranty for a tenth of the price? Many people may buy a Mercedes because they believe in its extra safety features and good German technology, and that‟s fine. But if you are an investment advisor or business coach, then the fact of driving a Mercedes Benz sends a message to a customer that you are successful, and thus are likely to know what you are talking about. Hence in this regard as a Mercedes sales person, I would be playing that card in the sales conversation, thus moving the car, or more correctly its badge, to the left of the diagram in Fig.3. This is clearly a very sensible approach and presents the Mercedes Benz to these markets as a must have item, not a mere luxury. A further example of repositioning comes from looking at the introduction of the compact disc. In fact the CD is touted as one of the most successful technology products ever launched. Yet one could well argue that the CD may be positioned at the top of the diagram in Figure 3. in perhaps the consumer, even fashions space. Whilst at first glance this may be so, in fact the CD was introduced as not some technology novelty, and thus with the risk of a long lead time to market, but as a simply a better vinyl record, simply a better way of storing and playing music than we had before. Thus we can see the value in this market risk map in looking to position offerings as low as possible and as far to the left as possible as shown in Figure 3. If we accept that pioneering may be a risky place to be, is it possible that there is some merit in being a follower, not bringing too much novelty to the market.
Figure 3: Market Risk Map B
Fast Second a Great Strategy The strategy of following is called “fast second” and is founded on the strong belief in the definition of innovation, and many companies have successfully exploited that model to great advantage. Rather than the questionable so called advantage of being, “first mover”; in many cases being second is better, and certainly carries a lot less risk. Just observe history to see examples of this fast second strategy in play as second market entrants move to become the big winners. Henry Ford did not invent the motor car, but when he saw the market opportunity afforded by the first clumsily built and expensive cars, he “innovated” the process for making them and thus brought cars to the masses. The ill fated Comet Jet passenger Airliner, a revolution in its day, plagued with technology problems created an opportunity for Boeing, untarnished by the pioneering Comet failures. Boeing won the world market for passenger jets from second place. Concorde is another example of a technology before its time, ultimately supersonic passenger transport will become commonplace, but not to the benefit of the Concorde pioneers. The fax machine invention was credited to Scotsman Alexander Bain before the turn of the 20 th century. However, it was not until the Japanese, as late comers, developed and used this technology within their own businesses that led the facsimile machine to popular use, and the success of these second comers. The electric light when finally brought to market suffered enormous resistance, especially from the gas companies. In supplying power to the “new fangled” electric light Thomas Edison chose to use Direct Current (DC) and was a brave pioneer, but ultimately it was the vastly superior second into the market alternating current method that won the race. Even with the ubiquitous personal computer, an invention commonly credited to Steve Jobs who was first to the market with the Apple Mac, the rich rewards went to the second comer, IBM. Further, as computer technology became commonplace and Personal Computers‟ (PC) became a commodity that could be built by almost any technology company, including the low lab our cost third world manufacturers, IBM exited the market for desktop PC‟s. However, IBM did for a time remain in the laptop market, as the market entry price for this business is far higher than for larger tower and desktop models. Ultimately and quite recently, as laptop technology became commonplace and the laptop moved to become a commodity product, IBM also exited that business. In the case of IBM, their “play” in the personal computer market was a
A Structured Approach to Innovation through “La Salle Matrix Thinking”
classic “fast second” strategy. Get into the business early, and exit before the business is commoditized. City based convenience stores are also a striking example. The early ones were amazing success stories charging exorbitant prices for “must have” conveniences. Look now and you will find most cities saturated with these shops all fighting for a share of a now much diluted market. Video rental shops are another example. When IBM realized the market potential of the first personal computers it quickly moved into the market, as a fast second. In doing so IBM virtually stole the business, making IBM and the IBM compatible the industry standard. Clearly, one can see the advantage of a fast second strategy and the benefit of seeing what is working and innovating the offering and moving in to the market to take advantage of what is clearly an emerging paradigm. This is represented in Figure 4.
Figure 4: Fast Second Strategy
Thus we need to consider the strong argument for coming second in the race, in fact “fast second” and of course innovation is the key to doing just that. Based on the foregoing it may now be appropriate to coin a definition of innovation. From the above we can now derive the most appropriate definition of innovation, a definition that if implemented can mitigate the single biggest risk in business, that of Market Failure. The word innovate literally means “change” thus a good definition of innovation is “Change that adds Value”. © La Salle 1992 It is with this definition as a firm starting point that we can now progress the systematic growth of knowledge, innovation and opportunity capture, in the main targeted at commercial focused outcomes. Innovation is a systematic process, so too the sourcing of infinite opportunities, it just needs some structure. This is not black magic of science fiction, but engineering at its best. If one wishes to challenge the proposition that an existing product or business cannot be innovated to provide a better market offering, or that some things cannot be innovated or improved in some way then consider the alternative argument. This view would hold that whatever you are considering, product, process or service will remain the same, indefinitely – this is a highly unlikely proposition. Development of Matrix Thinking Such case studies as discussed led to the creation of Thinking Matrices by Roger. Thinking Matrices have been developed for the innovation of:
Services, that is, the way you do business
Processes, that is, how the business operates.
Finding Opportunities, that is, how does one walk down the street and find an opportunity?
Generating your specialized Innovation matrix For example, Innovation of products can leverage off the four fundamentals, called “Seeds”, these underpin any
product and become the founding tenets for innovation. The seeds as described in Matrix Thinking are: Change or add value to your product in some way. - No product is immune from change for the better. If you disagree with this you are essentially saying that any product will remain unchanged for eternity, a highly unlikely proposition. Add Accessories to your products - Many companies today exist just by selling accessories, just look at the chains of shops selling auto accessories, to cite just one example Add Complementary Products - When somebody is about to make a purchase, you should take advantage of the mindset they have by offering them complementary items, such as fries with a hamburger Enhance the Sales Channel -The existing channel or the access you have to your customer is a valuable asset that can be leveraged. - This is like the petrol station being certain that you will come into their shop to pay the fuel bill, so they also offer extremely high priced commodities. Once you realize the business building opportunities afforded by embracing these seeds, the next thing to do is find ways to stimulate your mind in developing ideas based on the seeds. Catalysts are the fuel for this thinking and twelve key ones have been identified (Roger 2006) are shown. The matrix is used to stimulate thinking in that each matrix intersection asks you to think of an innovation opportunity in a particular way. The Catalysts ask “closed questions that demand an answer, for example, pick up a product and ask somebody to complete the sentence – “I wish this product) perhaps a glass of water) would ????. Such a question illicit many answers, this is far more powerful than simply asking somebody to “brainstorm” a glass of water. The Seeds and Catalysts of Matrix Thinking have been developed and tested over many years and have proven to be extremely simple but powerful tools. Some of the catalysts include: Tracking - Follow your product through its life you will find a multitude of opportunities. Such as putting honey into squeeze containers as a result of observing the frustration of users with messy jars. I Wish - Like making a wish about your product, such as a glass that never gets empty and solving this with a pressure sensor and miniature radio transmitter that signals a drink waiter. Frustration – this may well be the biggest source of business opportunities. Listen for somebody‟s frustration with a product or service and you may well have an instant opportunity for innovation. By arranging both seeds and catalysts in a rectangular grid, a matrix results for thinking. Each intersection of Seed and Catalyst creates a stimulus for creativity. The difference with this innovation matrix, unlike most other way to stimulate thinking, is that the thinking is immediately and directly applicable to your products. See Figure5 for the product innovation matrix.
A Structured Approach to Innovation through “La Salle Matrix Thinking”
Figure 5: Innovation Matrix
At the bottom of all thinking matrices is the catalyst of Consequential Change. This is the trigger to think of the consequences of what you are about to initiate, and moreover, perhaps create a consequence for you business that will have a positive effect. For example, finding a way to deliver a strong word of mouth message to a customer, this is possibly the most powerful means of promotion, far more so than advertising. The important thing to remember is that getting started in business is the hard part. After that, moving to the next level is a systematic process of innovation based leverage and, if done properly, it can be virtually risk free. In the case of services and service companies a similar innovation approach is employed; only in this case the seeds are a little different. In the case of processes, a Process Innovation Matrix is used; again in this case the seeds and catalysts are quite different. A similar approach is used to identify new business opportunities using an Opportunity Matrix. With the knowledge of seeds and catalysts for each particular situation and their application to any business, breakthrough thinking can be developed as it applies directly to your products, processes and services. The generic term for this type of structured thinking has been referred by Roger as “La Salle Matrix Thinking”. The fundamentals are clearly quite simple, and universally applicable. Opportunities can be found in similar manner if we start by first defining the word opportunity and then building a purpose built opportunity search matrix. A dictionary definition of the word opportunity is something like, an opportunity is a fortunate intersection of events, however this definition falls short as it provide no insight as to how one may find an opportunity. However, if we use the definition of opportunity as “An observed fortunate set of circumstances” © LaSalle 2000 the opportunity search horizon broadens considerably. With this definition in mind an opportunity search matrix has been developed that identifies the five fundamental things that should be observed. The opportunity matrix is as figure 6. Finally, if the above matrices are not appropriate for the knowledge seeking at hand or do not best address the finding of an appropriate solution then a purpose built problem specific matrix can be developed. Indeed it is often the work of actually creating discussion to identify the appropriate seeds of the issue that can provide the real insight to the solution.
Figure 6: Opportunity Matrix
CONCLUSIONS The literature review research demonstrates the importance of teaching structured methods for product development. Training on structured methods for product design and ideation, as a means to support creativity, while simultaneously maintaining control of the development process is relevant to companies. However, applying the findings of the teaching and learning research described in this paper should be undertaken under context. The author stands by the finding that structured methods for new product development, and the use of tools and techniques to enhance creativity, will undoubtedly improve the skills for future project team members in industrial settings and essentially innovative approaches to teaching and learning will contribute to product innovation in companies. As Kelley rightly states â€žInnovation is definitely not self-starting or self-perpetuating. People make it happen through their imagination, willpower, and perseverance; and whether you are a team member, a group leader, or an executive, your only real path to innovation is through peopleâ€&#x; (Kelley and Littman, 2006). That is, the innovation process needs to be leveraged using structured approaches demonstrate that teams without previous experience in product development methods can, if duly trained, potentially achieve good results. The author has made a case of achieving systematic pursuit and growth of knowledge by using thinking matrices (Roger 2006) such as those presented, or purpose built matrices, depending on the issue at hand. This has been acknowledged as a powerful way to harness the combined power of a group of people for the development of new insights and knowledge. The review of the literature suggests that the use of structured methodologies of product development is not as widespread as it needs to be if companies are to remain competitive in the future. The increasing number of courses offered by universities, on product development will contribute to raising the awareness to the importance of structured approaches to product innovation. Cross analysis of references used by Roger (2006;2010) indicate that methodological approaches to new product development have been proposed over a number of years by many
A Structured Approach to Innovation through “La Salle Matrix Thinking”
authors and have been used extensively by companies, with varying degrees of success (Griffin, 1997). The dilemma facing many managers nowadays is the need to reconcile two apparently conflicting requirements: fostering innovation and maintaining discipline in the development process. This paper has looked at this dilemma in a comparative study of cases drawn from products mix introduced in the market over the years in the category of new product development as discussed by Roger in his concept of Seeds and Catalysts. It demonstrates how the use of seeds and catalysts (Roger 2006) can help to achieve varying levels of innovation in products. As Roger has demonstrated that arranging both seeds and catalysts in a rectangular grid (Figure 5), a matrix results for thinking. Each intersection of Seed and Catalyst creates a stimulus for creativity. The difference with this innovation matrix, unlike most other way to stimulate thinking, is that the thinking is immediately and directly applicable to products.
RECOMMENDATION FOR FURTHER RESEARCH To encourage and facilitate further research on innovation in marketing, the present research seeks to collect, explore, and evaluate research on innovation. Key goals of this paper were to provide a structure for thinking about innovation across the fields, highlight important streams of research on innovation, suggest interrelationships, and provide taxonomy of related topics. The author hopes this attempted integration will stimulate fertilization and interaction across fields and promote productive new research. This review attempts to summarize key ideas, highlight problems that are on the cusp of being addressed, and suggest questions for future research. Some of the key unanswered issues are: • Role of a firm‟s internal culture in influencing innovation, including factors such as willingness to cannibalize, visionary leadership, future market orientation, and customer orientation; • Differences in the drivers of innovation by innovation type (product versus process), category (products versus services), and other characteristics; of particular interest are interactions, rather than just main effects; • Impact of macro environmental factors such as research clusters, research incubators, and governmental policies (taxes, incentives, and regulation) on innovation; • Impact of cultures and ethnicity on innovative capabilities.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The author acknowledges the work of Mr Roger La Salle; Managing Director: La Salle Matrix Thinking; Melbourne – Australia. He is widely sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development. He is the author of four books, Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria as well as a number of companies both in Australian and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC television program the New Inventors. In 2005 he was appointed to "Chair of Innovation" at “The Queens University" in Belfast. Matrix Thinking is now used in more than 26 countries and licensed to Deloitte for distribution as e-learning modules the world over. www.matrixthinking.com
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