Research: Product Innovation & Cognition

Our research improves the success of product and service innovations by managing the early stages of new product development - the so-called "fuzzy front end".  Some of the research questions we are interested in are:

  • How do gatekeepers in the fuzzy front end decide which ideas to promote and which ideas to reject? How do they use "rules of thumbs" and how successful are these rules?
  • How does the project team's attitude towards (or tolerance for) uncertainty impact how it manages a new product development project? How do different approaches to dealing with project uncertainty impact project outcomes?
  • How can product planners make sure that they are planning for the needs of future markets and the capabilities of future technologies, rather than getting stuck in the status-quo?
  • How can product planners make sure that their future products do not have any undesirable environmental or societal impacts?
We investigate these questions with a variety of different qualitative and quantitative research approaches. One of the methods we use is Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping (FCM). The method allows us to collect the mental models of experts and laypeople to improve product planning, future studies, and technology assessment. Wikipedia has a good introduction into the methodology here.  We are the first research group to apply FCM in engineering management.