Max Munnecke: Foresight for innovators

Ph.D.-project at The Department of Manufacturing Engineering and Management,
Technical University of Denmark

Period: 2005-2008
Supervisor: Torben Lenau
Co-supervisor: Ulrik Jørgensen

This PhD project deals with the early phases of an innovation process in an industrial setting. It focuses on the mapping of future innovation opportunity areas, which is instrumental for efficient innovation process and ultimately secures the future cash flow of a company.

Globalization has in the last decade caused an aggressive business environment which forces market leaders to innovate and continuously seek new radical innovation opportunities outside their core business to maintain their position. Scenario thinking is widely recommended for dealing with uncertainty and complexity, so it is a natural theoretical foundation for the search for future innovation opportunities. Currently there is a need for a framework which brings together current experiences with scenarios and investigates the potential of cross pollination from related research areas. Especially the context-based approach from foresight studies and visual facilitation from social sciences and knowledge management has the potential to revolutionize scenario thinking.

The objective of this PhD project is to develop a framework based on scenario thinking to map future radical innovation opportunities. The framework consists of a process and a collection of methods and tools. The objective will be enlightened by answering the following questions: Q1: How can a context-based scenario framework map future radical innovation opportunities? Q2: How can the scenario framework become a navigational tool? The main theoretical foundation scenario methodology which has been developed across a range of research areas such as future studies, strategic planning, innovation and organizational theory, design studies and social sciences. The empirical data consists of qualitative case studies and interviews of practitioners. The developed framework will be tested empirically in experimental workshops - based on Action Research - with the collaboration of multi-disciplinary teams from industry and academia. Several iterations of development and test of the framework will be performed.

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