Managing innovation through cognitive mapping
Innovation is an important element of strategic management (2003), and most product innovations involve cross-functional teams (Cooper and Kleinschmidt, 1994) who have some difficulty in developing a shared understanding of a particular innovation problem, which can often be characterised as a complex ill-structured problem (described as a task). This study uses an action research approach (Eden and Huxham, 1996) to explore how to develop a shared vocabulary and understanding of a task and then how to direct its growth and development. From a review of relevant literature, five dominant influencing factors emerged that impact on a team's capability to manage the task. These dominant influencing factors are the teams: shared cognition, creative processes, task relevant knowledge development, team role development and task tracking. These were used as the building blocks in an architectural innovation. The researchers experience in innovation projects in industry and with MBA students on smaller project re-enforced this literature review. An iterative action research process involving 160 interviews was then used to develop a new framework that positively impacted on these five dominant influencing factors in seven organisations. The seven companies selected were all at the early stage of exploring an ill-structured innovative opportunity, which formed the basis of the tasks for the various teams. These varied in their nature but all required architectural knowledge development in cross functional teams ranging from four to seven people. The framework uses as its building blocks existing established models and approaches from different disciplines.