||Idéen i idé-arbejde
||Clausen, Christian (Innovation og Bæredygtighed, Institut for Planlægning, Innovation og Ledelse, Danmarks Tekniske Universitet, DTU, DK-2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark)
||Technical University of Denmark, DTU, DK-2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
||In this master thesis we have studied how idea work unfolds in early product development.
We have done this by examining the idea work in a company called Alfa Laval that is
specialized in developing separation solutions for industrial companies. Furthermore, we have
developed a series of recommendations on how idea work can be staged to make it of high
quality. In addition, we have developed a number of tools, which Alfa Laval can use to
improve their idea work. By examining the early product development through the term of
idea work, we wish to bring focus to the product developers’ practical work with ideas in the
early product development.
The point of departure for this thesis was a realization that Alfa Laval had problems doing
radical innovation. We therefore decided to explore their innovation process to gain insight in
how to harness the company’s innovation potential. This decision triggered an examination of
the existing innovation literature. Through this examination we noticed an amount of
literature about the early innovation process called the Fuzzy Front End (FFE).
We found this part of the innovation process interesting because it seemed to be a place for
improvement of the overall innovation process. We therefore conducted a review of some of
the exsisting FFE litterataur to gain further insight in this. We found, that the FFE literature
seems to be focused on organizational perspectives of innovation and FFE management. We
thereby found it to be lacking a focus on the people that actually creates innovations e.g.
product developers. We therefore saw a potential of improving the FFE literature by obtaining
insight into this practical dimension of innovation. Therefore we decided to investigate the
work of the product developers at Alfa Laval with the focus on idea work.
As a foundation for our study of the idea work, we used empirical data obtained through
interviews with primarily product developers. Through this we analyzed the idea work at Alfa
Laval from three perspectives; an individual perspective, a social perspective and a process
perspective. Within each perspective, we found interesting aspects of the idea-work, which
led us to a comprehensive understanding of how idea work unfolds as a whole. We hereby
found that idea-work unfolds as a social and individual process where the idea continuously is
being framed and reframed by the individuals who engage in the idea work. The social
processes take place through the intersection of object worlds. This intersection is made
possible through the use boundary objects that can transforma the individuals’ knowledge.
These boundary objects are created through the individual processes. The goal of the idea
work is to make the idea interesting to as many object worlds as possible. Hereby the idea can
gain support, at first internally and later externally whereby innovative success ca be
We also found, that idea work is influenced by the context it occurs in. This context consists
of both organizational and market conditions. The context influences the idea work indirectly
because the individuals that engage in the idea work make sense of the context and enact in
the idea work according to this. Thus the context affects the idea work through the individuals
engaging in it.
To simplify the understanding we have gained of idea work, we have developed the Idea-
Framing model. This model should be understood as our contribution to the existing FFE
literature. We believe the Idea-Framing Model to be an important contribution to the literature
because it presents an understanding of how the work with ideas is actually performed, which
does not seem to be of focus in the FFE.
In addition to the model, we have developed a number of recommendations on how idea work
can be staged to improve its quality. We have therefore made general recommendations but
also specific recommendations for Alfa Laval. We have also developed a number of tools that
can assist Alfa Laval in the staging process. These tools consist of two groups,
communication tools and innovation tools. The communication tools should be used to
communicate our understanding of idea work to the employees at Alfa Laval and the
innovation tools should be used when performing idea work. This means, that the
communication tools develop a shared syntax for the employees to be able to communicate
about idea work and thus deliberately stage it. The innovation tools are designed to be used in
meetings between individuals and thus in the staging of each meeting to take advantage of the
potential that exists between the different object worlds. All tools are built as boundary
objects that can transform knowledge when used. It is our hope that the recommendation and
tools can help Alfa Laval to harness their innovation potential through deliberate staging of
||Technical University of Denmark (DTU) : Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
Creation date: 2010-01-14
Update date: 2010-02-01