"Collaborative New Product Concept Management:
A Flexible Model for Innovation"


Today organizations seek to develop competitive advantage that could be sustained over the long run. Innovative products have been of immense value to organizations in this context. The role played by innovation in generating ideas for innovative products is evident. Therefore it becomes imperative that an organization establishes processes that lead to or support innovation.

Current research proposes a methodology that uses a collaborative network of expertise from within and outside the organization for innovative product idea generation. The network would help in assimilating diverse knowledge and rich experience scattered across the enterprise and outside, thus giving valuable inputs right at the ideation phase of new product design.
Proposed methodology draws heavily from the Industrial Design methodology of ideation, based on the concept of visual thinking which could be extended it to the collaborative network for creative idea generation. In addition, methodology suggests that sketching or computer aided representation of ideas are more effective for visualization and incite creative triggers in a collaborative network. It also would result in an effective interaction due to the tangible nature of the represented idea and also at the same time help in generating a lot of doubts and discussions on the same. Hence knowledge and information sharing is more effective and collaborative teaming gains impetus for innovative product idea generation.

The research methodology followed is to have a stepwise development in the collaborative model for innovation. Exploratory study based on literature review and industry experience culminated into a base model for innovation. Next step is the inductive research study where mock and real case studies were conducted and the learning from these are used in generating an emerging model for innovation. The final step is the deductive study where in the inferences from the empirical findings resulted in the final proposed collaborative model for innovation. This type of evolution of the model lends itself to effective implementation in the industry.

The proposed model for innovation consists of two intervened processes The new product, concept management process and the collaborative teaming process. The concept management is divided into four steps for having better and precise control on the stages and earmarking the responsibility and the level of interaction of the participants from both within and outside the organization. This also helps in filtering the quality and type of interaction at each stage. The steps are,

     (i) Concept creation and generation,
    (ii) Concept focus and evaluation,
   (iii) Concept detailing and
   (iv) Concept refinement and finalization, creating a multistage concept          development process.

This helps in enthusing innovation and flexibility in the system so that innovative ideas with potential can be nurtured and taken ahead in the process.

The collaborative teaming is made of three teams
(i) core team,(ii) enterprise wide network team and (iii) external network team.

The core team's main responsibilities include innovative idea generation, creativity, visual representation and coordination of the collaborative model for innovation. The enterprise wide team consists of people, who are experts in their functional areas with in the enterprise. They would provide valuable insights from the perspective of their functions. External networked team would consist of people with varied expertise who are out side the enterprise. They would bring in broader perspective, new knowledge and wide experience to the collaborative model. This team would play a critical role in triggering and evaluating creative ideas

Globalization is making the importance of this collaborative effort more evident as consumers in different markets represent a different set of needs and a successful product idea must cater to this aspect while in the ideation stage of product development cycle so that the risk of failure is minimized before committing more resources into the product development process. The study proposes that with the help of this collaborative model for innovative product idea generation organizations can develop new product ideas for coming up with innovative products which are successful in delighting the consumer and effective in winning bigger market share for the enterprise.


IDC, IITBombay