Basic Innovation Management for a Leading Mechanical Engineering Company

Client’s Situation:

The client had a classical development department that continuously improved the existing product base by slowly adapting to technological change in cooperation with major customers.
Because of the slow pace of change, the client missed major technological trends. Although the company had a positive reputation, it suffered from inflexibility, and its products had a reputation for high quality but low usability. As a result, the company was losing market share continuously.

Our Approach:

In this project, we decided to gather market insight in the classical way—customer and expert interviews—in parallel with the innovative way—crowdsourcing and crowd evaluation processes. Each method had a short-term (1 year), a medium-term (4 years), and a long-term perspective (10 years). The results were compared step by step, with management evaluating the results and making the final decision about which results were most accurate. Both methods followed a four-step process:
  • 1. Definition of the enabling technologies, customer needs, and potential markets.
  • 2. Evaluation and ranking of the results.
  • 3. Definition of new products and their features based on step 1.
  • 4. Evaluation and ranking.

The crowdsourcing and crowd evaluation results differed significantly from the expert opinions, which showed a significant bias to the professional specialisation.
At the end, a list of short-term product improvements with significant customer value was generated. A complete medium-term product, technology, and market road map was defined, and a 10-year outlook was provided.
A new organisation had to be set up, an M&A plan and an HR concept for the acquisition of some new core technologies and people had to be established.
Because major ideas—both incremental as well as breakthrough innovations—came out of the crowdsourcing process, an innovation process with strong crowd support was installed. The company strategy was changed from quality leadership to innovation leadership, and the aspiration for high quality was retained.