Book: The Fuzzy Front End of Innovation


Book review: Oliver Gassmann, Fiona Schweitzer: Management of the Fuzzy Front End of Innovation (Springer, 2014)

Well, this was a surprise! This book really gives a wide range of topics with interesting examples and advices useful for work in creative industry.

The fuzzy front end of innovation is certainly an interesting topic for everyone interested in innovation, specially for innovation managers or product/process owners ready to make innovation efforts, but this book could also be a “manual” for students and a guideline for everyone interesting in innovation inside organizations.

In conceptual part of the book we can learn about structure, customer integration & cross-industry concept, but also about design thinking or crowdsourcing. I was most interested in “Leveraging Creativity” chapter which gives a compilation of twenty creativity techniques, “Customer Integration at the Front End of Innovation” clearly selects the types of Customer and their role in innovation activities with very interesting examples and chapter “Out of Bounds: Cross Industry Innovation Based on Analogies” gives real-life cases on cross-industry innovation.

Second part of the book: “Practical Cases” gives very interesting cases from 3M (The ‘It’s Up to You’ Principle), Open Innovation from Emporia – with nicely described case of online idea competition versus focused group workshops, many crowdsourcing examples(Siemens sustainability contest), Stage-Gate process at Autoneum.

My feeling about the book is also formatted with last chapter (“FFEI:Quo Vadis?”) where authors summarize the topic and goes beyond by evaluating new tools and giving at the end 20 rules for successful innovation. Well done! This is one of books to which I will come back, when needing insights or advices in future work.

Two favorite quotes:

“Too often an attitude that is willing to take risks and empowers imagination of creative minds is punished by the corporate thinking of large firms”.

“The overall innovation output of a company will only be exceptional if an active search for latent needs, week signals and emerging trends is undertaken, instead of just following the evident and palpable. For this reason, innovation managers should enjoy embracing the fuzziness of the front end.”

Book available at Springer or Amazon.

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