Innovation Engineering in Practice : Bridging Exploration and Exploitation in a Large Manufacturing Incumbent

Abstract: Innovation Engineering is a term used to describe the combination of innovative, and engineering capabilities - with focus on methods, tools and strategies for the early phases of the innovation process. Innovation Engineering is performed by innovation teams when they pursue projects of explorative nature, with ambiguous problem spaces and wide-open solution spaces. The exploration journey includes behavioral, social and technological possibilities. The innovation team needs to master innovation capabilities, be multidisciplinary, with T-shaped individuals, and needs to have an end-to-end responsibility - from initial need finding to proven, minimum viable product. Innovation engineering skills are important for a company that wants to future proof itself, and in order to set the organization up for success leadership need to support both exploration and exploitation, not only at the top, but also throughout the layers of managers and leaders. While it is important for the people involved in the exploration work to be transparent and inclusive, it is also important that the innovation team gets the right conditions for their best work, which means freedom to build knowledge through a process that works well for exploration work. The exploration work needs to open up wide for both the expansion of the problem space as well as for the solution space, and when the team is entering the so-called groan zone they would benefit from enjoying that crucial stage between divergence and convergence and maximize the learning for the entire team. The industry’s, as well as the society as a whole, is shifting towards digiphysical solutions, and needs to urgently start the knowledge building and testing of designs for a climate resilient circular economy. Intentional PSS design is a way to design for today and for the future, and by identifying the gap between now and wow, the design process can generate several different knowledge maturing activities, such as research, experimentation, iteration, learning and sharing of what one has learnt. In this thesis I have explored how a large manufacturing incumbent can strengthen its innovative capabilities, how innovation engineering can be come equally important and much different from traditional engineering practice