Organizing the I function
As in previous chapters, we begin with a few practical comments and questions from the Innovation Manager. ‘I agree with the idea that innovative design is a specific activity, different from activities in the engineering and design or research departments. This distinction clarifies the role of D and R and their interdependency with I. All too often, confusion between I and R&D has meant that I-type projects have been undertaken without having the right resources, with the result that they have been judged as bad research or bad development projects. I also agree that “innovation fields”, which enable projects to be launched without necessarily thinking about the final product, favour exploratory approaches, both in terms of value and competencies, and help evaluate the work on the basis of new criteria.
‘But R and D already have sophisticated management tools to organize and steer them, and we need to find similar management methods for innovative design. This raises a number of questions regarding evaluation criteria and organization, particularly with respect to interactions with R&D and with the other designers. Also, how can innovation fields be structured and how can any excess knowledge be reused? Do we already have any methods, tools, good practices or models?’
Models of activity and organization of the I function in large firms
In recent years there has been a massive increase in the number of ‘innovation departments’, in the form of business development units, innovation-oriented centres, departments for research, innovation and preliminary projects, etc.