09 Oct 2013 |
Research article |
Entrepreneurship & Management
Harnessing Information and Communication Technology on Innovation Projects: Managing remote Co-design Experiences
Header picture from the authors: Substance CC license apply.
[highlight]A research paper introduction is a blog article presenting a research paper done by researchers from École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.[/highlight]
The ÉTS organizes an annual international innovation competition named “The 24 Hours of Innovation”. In this competition, students from universities of all continents have 24 hours to create an innovative solution to an industrial problem chosen from a list of projects submitted. It allows them to live a co-design experience in creativity and innovation.
In this paper, we study how teams of participants use the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to understand their needs during their participation in that international event at ÉTS. These activities were tracked using the collaborative platform Innokiz, an ICT platform designed in-house to support all exchange of information of local and international participants.
The co-design experience of “The 24 Hours of Innovation” follows a Charrette method. Charrette is “an intensive, concentrated and deadline-oriented group confrontation and discussion technique applied to identify, analyze, evaluate and solve educational, organizational and community problems and needs” . Charrette as an innovative activity  encourage the teamwork during constraint, short deadline period and decision taking R&D activities. Those characteristics make the Charrette to be considered as an effective design strategy. Charrette is also a potentially effective research method, mainly because it puts participants in a real-world situation, where researchers can observe and test user experience, interfaces, and knowledge management systems during the design process .We found that teams at “The 24 Hours of Innovation” follow the Charrette method dynamic. This quick-term project development is coherent with industrial and organisational needs.
At the end of “The 24 Hours of Innovation”, all the proposed solutions to the industrial problem chosen are assessed and judged by experts. This confers an ecological validity to the research about innovation  , in the sense that actors are immersed in a professional problem where they test the computational environment or information tools during project development. It is for this reason that our research team identified the needs to study knowledge acquisition and uses of ICT technologies in these kinds of design activities while investigating at the same time the creative teamwork and how ICT tools supported the design teams.
In 2012, over 20 institutions participated in the 5th International 24 Hours of innovation Competition at ÉTS with 135 teams, and 782 participants. The competition took place during Creativity & Commerce Conference at Montreal (C2MTL) from May 23rd to 24th, 2012.
The research study consisted of an empirical study that analyzed tasks and teamwork carried out by teams during the 24H competition. We followed the use of media by participants and looked at three variables linked to the experiential process during computer-mediated interactions:
- Knowledge Management tools used by teams and staff organization, following the task analysis method proposed by Dalkir ;
- Communication tools used during design stages and knowledge sharing process;
- Information sources (cognitive and knowledge exchanged) used by the teams for idea exchange (project proposals) or teamwork among team members and external experts, partners or sponsors. Our research explored three topics related to the co-design experience in an Open Collaborative innovation platform (Innokiz), as well as ICT and social media support used by design teams.
ICT needs during 24H of Innovation
In a preliminary study of team’s needs conducted during the 24H event of November 2011, we observed that the use of ICT tools evolved as the project advanced . Design team do not use the same software during all the development time. They use varied ICT related to the tasks done and knowledge exchanged. Cited authors observed that capturing knowledge in the various stages to find a solution required a wide variety of tools that were combined and used by groups to share knowledge.
Stages and Tasks accomplished by participants
We traced the evolution of the 24h-term project in nine stages proposed by . The design team advances in a summarization of task during different stages . Each stage is differentiated by the kind of information and knowledge objects to be exchanged. These stages are:
- Project planning;
- Task planning;
- Needs analysis;
- Concepts searching;
- Solutions proposal;
- Dimensions and Measures;
- Cost and economical analysis;
- Presentation preparation.
ICT tools used during project development
As shown in Fig. 3, ICT tools evolved as the project advance, and varied with task type and knowledge exchanged. We observed that capturing tacit knowledge in the first stage of problem definition has required, as previously discussed, a wide variety of tools.
ICT Tools used during ideation process
Fig. 4 shows the wide range of tools being used to manage the project during the 24H term. As we can see, participants utilized the Internet as a main tool for knowledge search and acquisition in the first 6H. Analysis showed that the use of Internet was at a mean value of 24% during the first 6 hours and gradually decrease at 18% between 7H to 21H. The Internet is an intensive source of information for innovation activities: “Participants used the search engine and information from patent databases as references to determine the “state of the art” of the product’s technology that they were currently developing” . Respondents agreed that the Internet was a critical tool to arrive at an innovative solution. This important finding might be introduced in the use of Internet as the space where information regarding methods and organizational resources could be found. In that sense, the InnoKiz Web platform was also developed to share links and project results with the industrial sponsors.
The Internet and ICT technologies were important vehicles of knowledge sharing because “they mediated the interaction (groupware), contributed to knowledge externalization (coauthoring or document production): sharing and retrieving documents contributed to knowledge internalization by connecting training and resources between novices and experts (Learning Management Systems), and finally, ICT technologies supported workflows” (idem). Moreover, Internet supports decisions and visualization of knowledge .The next 24 hours of innovation international event will be held again with C2MTL in Montreal from May.28th and 29th 2014. New this time, an international summer school will follow the 24H to continue to work on solutions presented to this event and to develop creativity and innovation competencies from specialist in those aspects.
To know more about harnessing Information and Communication Technology on Innovation Projects: Managing remote Co-design Experiences from The 24 Hours of Innovation International Event, we invite you to read the following Research Paper:
Jiménez-Narváez L. M.,K. Dalkir and M. Gardoni (2013): Harnessing Information and Communication Technology on Innovation Projects: Managing remote Co-design Experiences from The 24 Hours of Innovation International Event. Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET) conference 2013, San Jose, California, USA.
Luz-María Jiménez-Narváez, has completed a postdoctoral in innovation management at ÉTS. She is an Industrial Designer from Universidad Nacional de Colombia with an Industrial Engineering Master from École polytechnique de Montréal.
Program : Innovation Management
Kimiz Dalkir is an Associate Professor at the McGill University Graduate School of Information Studies and President of Glashaus Consulting, a management consulting firm that provides help services in knowledge management.
Mickael Gardoni is a Professor in the Automated Manufacturing Engineering Department at the ÉTS. His research interests include innovation management, knowledge management, technology transfer and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM).
Research laboratories : NUMERIX – Organizational Engineering Research Laboratory for the Digital Enterprise