The Alliance has conducted a major research study on the subject of "Idea Generation and Innovation", based on the modeling of practices of exemplary companies.
Based upon the study, we have developed a model for innovation, the Alliance Innovation Model. The Model details a framework for management to achieve and/or sustain an environment conducive to innovation. It identifies employee behaviors critical to the process of generating and implementing new ideas, as well as the management practices necessary to stimulate these individual behaviors. While some of the behaviors have been discussed by previous authors, no one before has provided so straightforward an operational guide for achieving a workable innovative culture.
A general description of the model is presented in our newsletter, Volume 2, Issue 1, Summer 1998 in the article entitled A Prescription for Innovation. The Model has been statistically validated several times through empirical research.
In addition, it has been applied successfully across industries -- in manufacturing as well as high technology -- in several organizations. These include Lipton, Becton Dickinson, Unilever Bestfoods, and AT&T Bell Laboratories. The most comprehensive application of the Model was done by Lucent Technologies Power Systems, with remarkable success. This application is described in Volume 4, Issue 4, Winter 2001, in the article How Lucent Power Systems Improved Innovation and Raised the Bottom Line. A refereed journal article describing the Model can be found in McGourty, J., and Tarshis, L. (1996), Managing innovation: Lessons from world class organizations, International Journal of Technology Management, Vol. 3-4.
The Alliance offers organizations the opportunity to benchmark their employee behaviors and management practices against the best-of-breed organizations whose behaviors and practices have gone into the development of the Alliance Innovation Model.
From its beginnings, the Alliance has benefited from Howe School faculty involvement in its Roundtable meetings and Conferences, and the Alliance supports faculty research in the form of seed money grants administered by the Center for Technology Management Research. In addition to providing funds, SATM sponsors also provide data for the research studies. Sponsors take part in the project selection process, with an important criterion being relevance to their interests. Projects funded recently have dealt with the determinants and implications of conflict in project teams, transactional versus transformational approaches to project leadership, and web interfaces to sensor-actuator networks.
Faculty can design and implement other research projects based on the interests of sponsors, individually or collectively. These may include surveys, case studies, specific projects and literature reviews of specific practices related to the management and use of technology. One such project that was carried out involves the study of new reward systems in technology-intensive companies and their relationship to innovation.
The Alliance periodically invites faculty members to present the status and findings of their research at Roundtable meetings. The projects that received seed funding during the past year were reviewed at the March 2003 Roundtable meeting, generating considerable interest. Proposed projects for this year's round of funding have been solicited, and are being disseminated for sponsor appraisal.