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History and background of the company
Timeline and evolution to current market and products.
Are they naturally entrepreneurial?
Describe innovation as any activity to improve competitiveness.
What generally drives innovations in the company? Why do they do it? Do they have a view on anything about their company that makes them innovative – say size or lack of mechanised processes etc?
Ask for some company examples to focus on and ask to take us through these from market to production...
Where do the (product) ideas come from? If there is a gap in the market how do they know this – is it formal market research or ad hoc? Is there a general trend they follow – such as health food fads / convenience food / use of natural materials etc?
How many ideas would they typically have over a time period and how many of these would get to the market?
How do they evaluate the ideas to tell which are likeliest to work? Do they try to judge the risk of putting new products out or do they just try it in small volumes and see if it works?
How are the innovations developed from infancy to being on the market? Are there any identifiable stages in the development process? Who is involved in this development process – particularly in terms of cross functional involvement?
Are there any other significant issues regarding the development process – lack of sufficient expertise / funding to carry it out / keeping the idea a secret?
Support and help.
What help and / or support do they get from agencies like Scottish Enterprise?
Do they have any collaboration or share information with other organisations? If they do, is there a trust issue? If they do what exactly is the added value of the collaboration?
12.2 Letter to the managing directors of innovative food companies
14th November 2005.
Innovation research – Napier University
Hi. My name is Ron Masson from Napier University Business School. I’m writing to you to ask if you might consider helping us with something.
I represent a research group who are trying to identify and explore some of the key issues that lead to companies being successfully innovative – particularly companies in the Scottish Food and Drink sector. Innovations would include any kind of change to products or processes, however trivial that lead to improved commercial success. It’s apparent that your company may be one that does seem to be successfully innovative so we’re interested in perhaps exploring, from your company’s perspective, what are the things that can lead to successful innovations.
The research would in the main simply involve us talking to yourself and perhaps if necessary to some other relevant staff, say for an hour or so in two or three meetings spread over a couple of weeks. Napier University has a strict code of ethical research and data protection which binds us into not divulging any research results such as these, or even that you are participating in any such research, without your written permission. You may of course wish to jointly publicise any results in such a way as to enhance the profile of your organisation.
If you are at all interested in helping us with this I wonder if you’d mind meeting myself and perhaps another member of our group to discuss this. I’ll try to ring you in a few days.
The best wishes.
Professor of Operations Management.
0131 45 4306 firstname.lastname@example.org
12.3 Innovative personality questionnaire