Organizing for Innovation in a Product Development Project Combining Innovative and Result Oriented Ways of Working – a Case Study

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International Journal of Project Management 27 (2009) 745–753 www.elsevier.com/locate/ijproman

Organizing for innovation in a product development project Combining innovative and result oriented ways of working – A case study Per Sundstrom 1, Annika Zika-Viktorsson * ¨
Royal Institute of Technology, KTH Integrated Product Development, School of Industrial Engineering and Management, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden Received 1 July 2008; received in revised form 6 February 2009; accepted 12 February 2009

Abstract This case study investigates how leadership and management support creativity and innovation in the operative work of a product development project team. The aim of the study was to investigate factors that support the generation of new and innovative ideas as well as the efficient evaluation and implementation of ideas into a product. The aim was also to enhance the understanding of innovation when a project is characterized by pressure in terms of tight schedules, the need for progress, and a shortage of competencies. The investigated project provides an example of how innovation in a PD project benefits from pressure. The result shows how the following support a project team’s performance and enhance innovation: a clear vision – accompanied by freedom in the realization of that vision, transparency in the product architecture, enhanced communication and problem ownership. The results show also the interplay between leadership skills, individual characteristics (such as competence, attitude and motivation) and project characteristics (such as sense of urgency and a unique product). Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd and IPMA. All rights reserved. Keywords: Innovation; Creativity; Project management; Product development

1. Introduction This paper presents a study that investigates how leadership and management support creativity and innovation in the operative work of a project team within a product development (PD) project. The leading idea in this paper is that successful projects of this type depend on the generation and implementation of new ideas in a project and on opportunities for explorative work. The case presented provides an unusual example of how a project can achieve * Corresponding author. Address: Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems, Working Life Department. Tel.: +46 8 473 3059. E-mail addresses: per.sundstrom@foi.se (P. Sundstrom), annika.zika¨ viktorsson@vinnova.se (A. Zika-Viktorsson). URLs: http://www.foi.se (P. Sundstrom), http://www.vinnova.se ¨ (A. Zika-Viktorsson). 1 Address: Swedish Defence Research Agency, Defence Analysis. Tel.: +46 8 5550 3775.

creative solutions and innovations and at the same time maintain a strong orientation toward results and progress. The case is an example of how new knowledge and solutions were developed and managed during the execution phases. Many companies treat innovation as an issue for the early phases of a project, separate from execution phases. This is an approach in accordance with the principles of established linear project models in new product development [1]. However, in this case creativity and innovation were critical to maintain throughout the whole PD project for developing new knowledge and testing new solutions. Exploitation and explorations were managed simultaneously and the creative processes were stimulated while at the same time they were held ‘‘within the box”. A flexible organization, with high levels of freedom and risk taking, is commonly proposed as a way to support innovation. However, not only is that difficult to achieve,

0263-7863/$36.00 Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd and IPMA. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.ijproman.2009.02.007

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P. Sundstrom, A. Zika-Viktorsson / International Journal of Project Management 27 (2009) 745–753 ¨

modifications are needed for the PD project context. Project organizations face a tough but necessary challenge: to have projects that run efficiently...
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