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Applying innovation to a process

Professor Fernandes discusses how important process innovation is to the ability of an organisation to in turn apply open innovation to its products.
The key thing we found in our research is that process is important. The DNA of an organisation is process, i.e. input, output, the transformation element of it. In fact, process is perhaps more important than product innovation. Thus, to achieve product innovation you will have to make changes to your process innovation or the way your processes operate to achieve that innovation. So in a nutshell, the key finding was process is important. Process innovation is very important. And to achieve any product innovation, you will have an effect on how processes are re-engineered and changed in an organisation.
There are a number of processes which are all woven to each other and creates a very complex situation. And the reason why there are so many processes is because organisations are constantly trying to adapt. What are they trying to adapt to? They’re trying to adapt to some form of internal issue or some sort of external force. For example, an internal issue might be some problem with productivity, a machine breakdown or delivery of parts is delaying that system. An external force could be some new legislation that the company has to be compliant with. So an organisation is constantly trying to overcome these types of forces and adapt and adapt to this performance gap.
And the way organisations do this is by introducing a new process. There are four stages to this. The first one is ideation. Ideation is all about trying to understand what is needed to fill the performance gap. And here you sometimes involve your stakeholders, your customers particularly, or sometimes work with other consultants and research organisations to understand what the performance gap is and how this could be overcome. The second is adoption. So adoption is about what you can obtain in a short period of time, if time is of crucial essence, or what can be obtained if you want to increase productivity. So adoption is to pursue an optimal strategy. It doesn’t mean it’s the best strategy.
It means it’s the optimal strategy. The third is preparation. So preparation means you’re probably delivering a solution on your own. If you don’t have the expertise in house, you’re probably working with stakeholders, like a research organisation. To give an example, Land Rover, Jaguar, a large car manufacturing company, has a joint research institute with Warwick University. And what they do here is they are preparing core developing knowledge to have and work around a performance gap. And the last step is installation. So installation is all about implementing the solution you have developed or co-developed with your stakeholders. What you need to realise is this installation is a complex activity because by affecting one process, you potentially can affect other processes.
So the four stages are ideation, adoption, preparation, and installation.

Professor Fernandes explains the importance of process innovation. He discusses how the development of new products can often depend on the ability of an organisation to develop and successfully implement new processes. This has emerged from the research he and his colleagues have conducted (see Milewski et al. (2015)).

Often the development of a process does not happen in isolation but is the result of a complex network where many processes are linked with each other. As a result open innovation in the case of processes requires a deeper understanding of how different technologies, knowledge, and R&D developed externally can be integrated with those developed internally.

The video explains the key stages of process innovation which are built upon in the next step.


As you go through the video consider how the processes explained in the other parts of the week, cooperation with external stakeholders, use of information, and acquisition of external R&D, can be used during the different stages of the introduction of a new process and how this can help the development of a new product.


Milewski, S., Fernandes, K.J. and Mount, M.P. (2015) ‘Exploring technological process innovation from a lifecycle perspective’, International Journal of Operations and Production Management, Vol.35 (9), pp.1312-1331

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Harnessing Open Innovation in Business

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