New Product Development at Canon: The Contact Sensor Project

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http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/b02/en/common/item_detail.jhtml?id=396247

New Product Development at Canon: The Contact Sensor Project
Publication Date: Mar 25, 1996
Availability: In Stock
Author(s): Joseph L. Bower, Michael Partington Type: Case (Field) Product Number: 396247
Language: English
Length: 27p

NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT AT CANON

THE CONTACT SENSOR PROJECT

AUTHOR(S): BOWER, JOSEPH L.; PARTINGTON, MICHAEL

INTRODUCTION
Merriam-Webster defines the word “Canon” as an accepted principle or rule, a criterion or standard of judgment, a body of principles, rules, standards, or norms. In today’s world Canon has been one of the most innovative high technology companies and has epitomized the business Information products, cameras, optical and other products. Innovation has been a key to Canon's success throughout its history. Canon is one of the most prolific inventors of consumer and professional imaging solutions. Between 1989 and 1993, Canon was among the top six companies for total number of patents received annually in United States. The company conducts R&D in five centers internationally (UK, US, France and Australia) as well as numerous sites within Japan, and has used globalization, alliances and innovation in a well-coordinated manner. Canon prides itself in being the first to market a number of consumer and personal products that we use in our every day lives. Figure 1 illustrates new products successfully launched by Canon. It is Canon’s strategic focus on innovation that has led them to be a corporate leader and one of the most prolific new product companies.

INNOVATION AT WORK:
Canon is a leader in both technological as well as corporate innovation. The company adheres to the Japanese philosophy of kyosei, meaning living and working together for a common good. Canon entered Phase III of its Excellent Global Corporation Plan, a mid- to long-term management plan that outlines the company’s vision of continuing to contribute to society through “technological innovation” in accordance to this philosophy. Using these guiding principles Canon has developed key steps focusing on technical innovation: 1. Management Directive: Top down approach exists, which provides executive support and awareness, as well as accountability for both products and projects. 2. Creating a consensus: Teams must agree on the direction of a product or project before proceeding to the next step. This provides a solid foundation for common goals, increasing team commitment to the project and removing communication barriers. 3. Team Harmony: Canon allows teams to select their team leaders, providing the sense of democracy in the otherwise top-down culture. Teams feel empowered and accountable for their products, increasing each team member’s commitment to the project and the team. 4. Product Focused development: This increases the success rate for the product and sets clear boundaries for the team. The overall product development process can be characterized into three stages:

A. Application Oriented Basic Research (Amorphous Silicon)
B. Targeting a single product (CS-I)
C. Diversification to other products (Copier Machines, Thin Film Transistors, etc.) 5. Development at country of discovery: The product development is carried out in the country where initial discovery / research took place. It enhances the sense of ownership, leverages the knowledge of the local market and reduces the inter team communication challenges. Figure 2 - Canon's Global Presence

6. Product Development Methodology: Canon’s methodology lays out pre-defined phases and associated deliverables. The phases (named DA, DB, DC etc.) provide the structure needed to support the product development processes, and ensure there are checkpoints and evaluations before a decision to proceed to the next phase is made. Figure 3 - Comparison of Stage-Gate® & Canon's Product Development Guideling

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