Pearson’s uncertainty map provides a framework for analyzing and understanding uncertainty in the innovation process. It addresses the nature of the uncertainty and the way it changes over time, and provides managers with knowledge to make a decision and transform ideas into innovation. It also determines the type of management skills needed for different degrees of uncertainty.
The framework separates uncertainty into four quadrants based on basic characterizations:
a. uncertainty about ends – the eventual target of the project
b. uncertainty about means – how to achieve the target
Drawn on two axes, uncertainty about ends appears on the vertical axis, about means on the horizontal. The axes then divide producing four quadrants, namely:
- Quadrant 1, also known as exploratory or Blue Sky Research is where there is no clear definition of the target or the means. Here, the organization is experimenting with unfamiliar technologies, and unidentified markets or products. Depending on the manager, ideas and developments may be immediately recognizable as possible commercial products. A technical manager may understand a technology but a commercial manager might see a wide range of commercial opportunities.
- Quadrant 2 bears the label, Developmental Engineering. It contains ongoing activity within say, manufacturing companies that continually examine production processes looking for inefficiencies and ways to reduce costs. Here the target is clear but means are unidentified. The company may start several different projects centered on different technologies or approaches along the way so there is considerable uncertainty about how to reach the target. A manager will require special project management skills here to ensure either project delivery within budget, or cancellation to avoid escalating costs.
- Quadrant 3 is the Applications Engineering...