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Slack: a driver of innovation in R&D?
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Machine Design (Dept.), Integrated Product Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0592-4002
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Machine Design (Dept.), Integrated Product Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6024-7908
2011 (English)In: 12th International CINet conference: Continuous Innovation: Doing more with less, 2011Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Reaching an efficient yet innovative R&D organization is key in today’s competitive market. Many firms use inspiration from lean manufacturing methods to reach that goal. A large potential lies in a balanced application of such work methods, but applied in its extreme it may cause more harm than good. In this paper we explore how two central concepts in lean product development; slack and standardization are related to innovation. The quantitative analysis of questionnaire data from an automotive manufacturer with a long history of applying lean inspired work methods reveal an interesting relationship between the investigated variables. It also reveals means for managers to further ensure that slack time is used to its best potential in order to reach innovative products.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
slack, lean product development, lean, innovation, creativity
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-63318OAI: diva2:482003
12th Continuous Innovation Network Conference (CINET), Århus University, Denmark, September 11-13, 2011
QC 20120413Available from: 2012-01-23 Created: 2012-01-23 Last updated: 2012-11-30Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Process management in R&D - Doom or Salvation for Creativity?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Process management in R&D - Doom or Salvation for Creativity?
2012 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

R&D organizations of today must constantly seek ways to becomemore efficient in order to stay competitive. To accomplish thismany organizations turn to process management approaches suchas lean product development. But how does the use of processmanagement influence the creativity of the people in theorganization? How will they manage both the creative search andexploration of future opportunities and the efficient exploitation ofcurrent offerings simultaneously? Previous research has shown thatcompanies often fail in this quest and that exploration is at risk ofbeing neglected in favour of exploitation where the feedback andreturn on invested work are more immediate.This thesis sets out to study how the combination of exploration interms of creativity, and exploitation in terms of processmanagement, plays out at Scania, a developer and manufacturer ofheavy trucks. The research builds on data collected by means of aquestionnaire study where a large part of the R&D organizationparticipated. The results reveal surprisingly positive relationshipsbetween process management and creativity. Firstly, the existenceof clear routines showed a positive relationship with several aspectsof ideation. The results, however, stress the importance of havingdynamic routines where the organization is open to changing theexisting routines when needed. Secondly, strong demands ondelivery precision was positively related to the creation of novelideas in the industrialization process. Thirdly, the use of continuousimprovement efforts was positively related to aspects of creativity.These results indicate that routinization can benefit creativity andthat mangers should encourage the mapping and continuousimprovement of routines. Furthermore, goals for innovationinfluence how much time is spent on exploratory activities.Managers with innovation aspirations should therefore make clearto the organization that innovation is an important part of theoperations. Finally, managers and employees should formulatespecific product innovation goals and demand high deliveryprecision also for deliverables of exploratory nature.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2012. viii, 69 p.
Trita-MMK, ISSN 1400-1179 ; 2012:20
creativity, efficiency, process management, R&D
National Category
Other Mechanical Engineering
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-106225 (URN)978-91-7501-576-7 (ISBN)
2012-12-07, Innovationsstudion/Gladan, Brinellvägen 83, KTH, Stockholm, 14:00 (English)

QC 20121130

Available from: 2012-11-30 Created: 2012-11-30 Last updated: 2012-11-30Bibliographically approved

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