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2D Research Proposal
Transcript of 2D Research Proposal
IT development is part of most new product innovation. Collaboration problems in the NPD (New Product Development) process have been described in the literature as a barrier to success (Schewe, 1994, Cordon-Pozo et al, 2006, D’Este et al, 2011). Although considerable effort and research (Jorgensen, 2004) has been invested in estimation of software development efforts, organisations continue to be overly optimistic about the cost and time of IT builds.
What do we know about this?
Literature Concepts - Interpretive Barriers
Dougherty (1992) described two interpretative barriers to new product innovation. "Departments are like different thought worlds” and “organisational routines separate, rather than coordinate the thought worlds” Dougherty (1992, p182)
Research Proposal to answer the Research Question
A Presentation Commissioned for the University of Manchester, England
The importance of collaboration between functional teams for new product outcomes is well established (Smith Collins & Clark, 2005, Keller, 2001, Lovelace et al, 2001).
Leonard (1995) argued that most innovation is at the boundaries between disciplines. Subsequent article by Cross and Cummings (2004) argued that relationships crossing organisational boundaries can “provide unique information”.
Most recently, a meta-analytic review (Sivasubramaniam et al, 2012, p803) of the literature on NPD team performance concluded that “effective boundary spanning within and outside the organisation, and a shared understanding of project objectives are paramount to success”.
More specifically, Dougherty (1992) identified interpretive barriers to collaboration between functional teams for new product innovation. Carlile (2002) subsequently described boundary spanning mitigation tactics to overcome these barriers. Other organisation based mitigation tactics include Clark & Wheelwright’s (1992) heavyweight teams and Obstfeld’s (2012) creative teams.
Literature Insight - Agile IT
Agile IT (Beck, 2001) is range of industry standard methods for managing software design, coding and testing.
A highly iterative and interactive organisational routine, it is very different (Dingsoyr et al, 2012) from the traditional waterfall approach, which is documentation heavy. Agile methods “value working software over comprehensive documentation” (Chow et al, 2007)
Given the importance of collaboration for business outcomes, the adoption of Agile may contribute to interpretive barriers.
Literature Insight - Agile IT User Stories
Storytelling has been considered as a tool for innovation (Escalfoni et al., 2010), but it is extensively used in Agile methods to transfer and translate knowledge between the product design and IT development teams (Chow et al., 2007)
Literature Insight - Collboration
Literature Insight - Waterfall IT
In comparison, in the traditional waterfall methods, the IT department is typically the author of the documentation of requirements. This documentation describes the behaviour of the system that is required, detailing the functional requirements.
These thought world interpretive barrier results in the partitioning of information and meanings, which “produces a qualitatively different understanding of product innovation” (Dougherty, 1992, p195). The organisational routine interpretive barrier “inhibits the kind of collective action that is necessary to innovation” (Dougherty, 1992, p195).
Interview four managers from four firms in December 2013 and January 2014. Neutral prompts were used and questioning was open (Jankowicz, 2005, p268).
What did I do?
The participants were accessed from existing business contacts. Ethics consent was obtained from MBS and participants were provided with Research Information Sheets and Research Consents. The interviews of between 45 and 60 minutes were recorded and transcribed. For confidentially, all participants were asked not to use company names or recognisable details in the interviews and recordings were password protected.
Secondary data was obtained from both public sources and the participants. Although some details were reconfirmed during the interview, background information was obtained from secondary data.
Template analysis using HyperRESEARCH software.
What did I find?
What did I learn?
Pilot Sample - very limited and results may not be replicated
Exception fallacy - with one participant the failure to achieve on-budget was only uncovered during secondary data follow-up. For proposed research, this will be further mitigated by triangulation using secondary interviews.
Semi-structured guide - definition and operationalisation of mitigation boundary spanning tactics could be more appropriate. For proposed research, the interview guide and a priori template have been expanded.
Testing of alternative - online survey questionnaire method with convenience sample of six business decision makers. However the research propositions are not formed, they are simplistic and the language describing the boundaries and mitigation tactics is messy, with no common terms in business. Therefore due to these weaknesses this approach was not continued.
How could I examine this?
Is exploratory, to provide insights and understanding (Malhotra et al, 2010, p87).
Appropriate as the there is no obvious common business language to describe some of the concepts, for example boundary spanning objects. Especially with Agile IT, which is recent trend and relationship with collaboration requires further definition, before any findings could confirmed with a conclusive research design.
is qualitative survey with data collection by semi-structured interviews (Malhotra et al, 2010) of senior managers from service orientated firms, with template analysis (King in Cassell & Symon, 2004). Unit of analysis the firm and two participants per firm.
Appropriate for an exploratory approach (Malhotra et al, 2010, p87, King in Cassel & Symon, 2004 p11) and should uncover a greater depth of insight than for example focus group or survey methods. Semi-structured interviews are also appropriate when participants have a “complex stock of knowledge” (Flick, 2009, p157), as the method enables theory driven open ended questions, to help make “interviewees’ implicit knowledge more explicit” (Flick, 2009, p157).
Template analysis is appropriate for exploratory approach, where the objective is to explore “underlying causes” (King in Cassell & Symon, 2004, p256) and as a flexible technique (King in Cassell & Symon, 2004, p257) given the new business trend (Agile IT).
Purposive extreme sample (Malhotra et al, 2012, p96; Jankowicz, 2005, p279)
12 Firms, with 2 interviews each
Appropriate as reflects the research problem and profile of existing literature, to explore different firm sizes (Small vs. Large and High vs. Low Service Product). Much of the existing literature considers large manufacturing firms (Dougherty, Carlile) and IT firms have different relationship with Agile methods.
Business Outcome – difficulties with new product innovation will be common and collaboration difficulties between departments will contribute. In the pilot one comment was “Part of the reason for the massive delay in several products is because of a lack of clarity on what’s being delivered and a lack of co-ordination”. This would confirm the business problem and reconfirm the literature.
Barriers to Collaboration - Interpretive barriers to collaboration between functional departments from previous research (Dougherty, 1992) will be consistently found. Despite neutral questions and prompts (Jankowicz, 2005, p268), the pilot interviewees focused on the problems or barriers e.g. “a culture of firefighting struggles to understand constraints or perceived constraints of IT deliverables”. These findings would add to literature with empirical examples from service orientated organisations.
Mitigating Tactics – the majority of firms will use tactics to mitigate the interpretive barriers between functional teams, however these will vary considerably between organisations both in the type of tactic used and the depth of use of these tactics. In the pilot, the two manufacturing firms both used team organisation mitigation tactics for example “it’s recognised that a successful team will have the match trio of engineering, finance and purchasing; where the three are actually working together to a common goal to make sure that technically it’s capable and commercially it’s capable as well”, but both service firms did not. Awareness of the range of tactics will be low, for example in the pilot, all four firms required exploratory questioning and used different descriptions.
Agile IT - adds to interpretive barriers and limited or no firms will have adapted processes or adopted collaboration tactics to address.
User stories - in the form of semantic boundary objects, will be the most effective tactic for collaboration.
How does collaboration with the IT department, relate to new service product innovation?
What is the problem?
IT development is part of most new product innovation
Collaboration problems in the NPD (New Product Development) process have been described in the literature as a barrier to success (Schewe, 1994, Cordon-Pozo et al, 2006, D’Este et al, 2011).
Although considerable effort and research (Jorgensen, 2004) has been invested in estimation of software development efforts, organisations continue to be overly optimistic about the cost and time of IT builds.
“RIM's BlackBerry 10 delays a major setback”
(ZDNet, 29 June 2012)
“Obama Administration Delaying Online Obamacare Enrolment For Small Businesses”
(Huffington Post, 27 Nov 2013)
"BBC 'Confusion' led to BBC
digital project failure."
(www.bbc.co.uk 23 Jan 2014)
Literature Concepts - Collaboration
Carlile (2002) explored how knowledge could be both a source of innovation and a barrier to innovation. Proposing a pragmatic approach with different boundary objects depending on the boundary type.
A syntactical approach (Carlile, 2002) with process objects (eg standardised methods) when there’s a common language between teams and semantic approach with integrating or translation objects (eg models or maps) between specialist “Thought Worlds” (Doherty, 1992).
Carlile (2004) case study of a “collaborative engineering tool” for boundary communications
An organisation approach to integrating functional or specialised capabilities was explored by Clark & Wheelwright (1992). Their heavyweight structure includes members from functional groups into a semi-autonomous team, that has the responsibility and resources, to take a project from idea to implementation. Clark & Wheelwright (1992) described alternative structures as Functional, Lightweight and Autonomous
Clark & Wheelwright’s (1992) Autonomous structure is comparable to Creative Project teams (Obstfeld, 2012 and Bakker et al, 2013). Bakker et al (2013) investigated the impact of temporary creative project teams and found that they “utilise a more heuristic mode of information processing”
On-time, On-Budget and To-Quality; described in the literature as project efficiency (Keller, 2006, Mallick & Schroeder, 2005). Most business new product projects have specific targets or business cases; against which on-time and on-budget can be measured.
Literature - Limitations
Manufacturing, not service product Not Agile IT impact
The foundational articles on the barriers to collaboration (Dougherty, 1992) and mitigation (Carlile, 2002 & 2004, Marrone, Tesluk & Carson, 2007) are largely based on manufacturing and not service product orientated firms. For example Dougherty (1992) researched five large firms in computer and chemical industries. Carlile (2002) researched high volume product production firms. Clark & Wheelwright (1992) described Motorola’s Bandit pager development.
The research exploring the application of tactics to mitigate these interpretive barriers and support collaboration between functional teams is limited. Recent articles that aim to address this gap, have specific focus; Felekoglu, Maier & Moultrie (2013) hierarchal boundaries and Kleinsmann, Buijs & Valkenburg (2010) knowledge integration case study.
Literature relating to Agile IT methods relate to definitions, benefits and application. With no apparent research on the impact of Agile adoption on collaboration between functional teams.
How does collaboration with the IT department, relate to new service product innovation?
Building on the key concepts in light of the research question, the research propositions are therefore as follows:
1. To replicate previous research which demonstrates that collaboration between functional departments is a factor in the business outcomes of new service product innovation (Smith, Collins & Clark, 2005; Keller, 2001; and Lovelace et al., 2001).
2. To extend previous research on service-orientated firms which has already determined that interpretive barriers to collaboration between functional departments are common (Dougherty, 1992).
3. To add empirical findings to the literature which considers research on firms using comparable tactics to mitigate the interpretive barriers between functional teams (Carlile 2002 & 2004). These tactics include organisational routine or processes, in addition to boundary and organisational responses.
4. To add new findings by linking new business trends to existing concepts from the literature in order to demonstrate that Agile IT development methods contribute to the interpretive barriers.
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