Experimentation Matters: Unlocking the Potential of New Technologies for Innovation

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9781578517503: Experimentation Matters: Unlocking the Potential of New Technologies for Innovation

Every company's ability to innovate depends on a process of experimentation whereby new products and services are created and existing ones improved. But the cost of experimentation often limits innovation. New technologies—including computer modeling and simulation—promise to lift that constraint by changing the economics of experimentation. Never before has it been so economically feasible to ask "what-if" questions and generate preliminary answers. These technologies amplify the impact of learning, paving the way for higher R&D performance and innovation and new ways of creating value for customers.In Experimentation Matters, Stefan Thomke argues that to unlock such potential, companies must not only understand the power of experimentation and new technologies, but also change their processes, organization, and management of innovation. He explains why experimentation is so critical to innovation, underscores the impact of new technologies, and outlines what managers must do to integrate them successfully. Drawing on a decade of research in multiple industries as diverse as automotive, semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and banking, Thomke provides striking illustrations of how companies drive strategy and value creation by accommodating their organizations to new experimentation technologies.As in the outcome of any effective experiment, Thomke also reveals where that has not happened, and explains why. In particular, he shows managers how to: implement "front-loaded" innovation processes that identify potential problems before resources are committed and design decisions locked in; experiment and test frequently without overloading their organizations; integrate new technologies into the current innovation system; organize for rapid experimentation; fail early and often, but avoid wasteful "mistakes"; and manage projects as experiments.Pointing to the custom integrated circuit industry—a multibillion dollar market—Thomke also shows what happens when new experimentation technologies are taken beyond firm boundaries, thereby changing the way companies create new products and services with customers and suppliers. Probing and thoughtful, Experimentation Matters will influence how both executives and academics think about experimentation in general and innovation processes in particular. Experimentation has always been the engine of innovation, and Thomke reveals how it works today.

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From the Inside Flap:

"Thomke makes a major contribution to the science of innovation with Experimentation Matters. Using case studies across diverse industries, he compellingly demonstrates how new technologies are fundamentally changing the ways both business organizations and individual researchers innovate. Thomke's experimentation principles provide the roadmap to a future of rapid, cost-effective, and highly innovative product development." -Dr. Lawrence D. Burns, Vice President, Research & Development and Planning, General Motors Corporation

"Experimentation Matters is one of the most important and useful books about innovation that I have ever read. Thomke masterfully shows how new technologies and processes for rapid learning can improve the effectiveness and speed of product development." -Clayton M. Christensen, Professor, Harvard Business School, and author, The Innovator's Dilemma

"Thomke illuminates how new technologies have profoundly affected business experimentation and shifted managerial notions of what it means to be innovative. Companies that fail to heed his call to design, organize, and effectively manage their innovation processes will pay the cost, both in misspent dollars and creativity." -Dr. Peter B. Corr, Senior Vice President, Science and Technology, Pfizer, Inc.

"Thomke provides unique insight on a much neglected element of competitive success„oexperimentation. His very powerful and persuasive book shows how firms can use new technologies, such as the revolutionary advances in computer simulation, to achieve dramatic improvements in the productivity of experiments, and save crucial time in the difficult and dangerous passage between an innovative idea and a successful new product." -Dr. Henry C. Kelly, President, Federation of American Scientists

"If you want to understand how testing and experimentation strategies can make companies more productive and innovative, reading Experimentation Matters is a great start!"

-Steven J. Sinofsky, Senior Vice President, Office, Microsoft Corporation

"Thomke's book is a landmark achievement. He is absolutely right--experimentation lies at the heart of innovation. Thomke builds upon his own very original and rigorous research to explain how new technologies for experimentation are transforming product development and strongly affecting the economics of innovation as well. Both innovation researchers and managers will find Experimentation Matters to be an extremely interesting and valuable book." -Eric von Hippel, Professor, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author, The Sources of Innovation

About the Author:

Stefan H. Thomke grew up and was educated in Calw (near Stuttgart and Baden-Baden), Germany. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering, a S.M. degree in Operations Research, a S.M./ MBA degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering and Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he was awarded a Lemelson-MIT doctoral fellowship for invention and innovation research.

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