Sustaining Innovation in Product Development
Fujitsu is the leading Japanese information and communication technology (ICT) company offering a full range of technology products, solutions, and services. Approximately 170,000 Fujitsu people support customers in more than 100 countries. Fujitsu EST is an innovation-centered software product subsidiary of the Fujitsu group based in Munich. As an international subsidiary of Fujitsu’s technology organization, Fujitsu EST undertakes core software product management and development activities, forming an important bridge between the company’s technology groups and its international customers and partners.
Fujitsu EST is currently in the process of redefining its future product portfolio and strategic roadmap. In this process, Fraunhofer IESE has supported Fujitsu EST in optimizing the product innovation process. For this purpose, Fujitsu EST wanted to create innovative product ideas on the one hand and establish a strategic and effective way to use creativity techniques in the existing Fujitsu EST innovation process on the other hand. To achieve these goals, the project was performed in two phases.
In the first phase, a creativity workshop was tailored by Fraunhofer IESE to the needs of Fujitsu EST and performed with moderation by requirements experts from Fraunhofer IESE. In an initial workshop, Fraunhofer IESE elicited relevant information to understand the Fujitsu EST context, the core goals, and the scope for the creativity workshop. Fraunhofer IESE then prepared, conducted, and moderated a two-day creativity workshop. As a result, the Fujitsu EST employees created a large set of potential product ideas that were evaluated in the workshop. The most promising idea was then enhanced and improved in a set of further creativity workshops. During this process, the whole creative power of all Fujitsu EST participants was used to add maximum benefit to the product idea, as creativity techniques were applied efficiently by all employees.
During the second stage of the project, Fraunhofer IESE trained and coached Fujitsu EST employees in performing creativity workshops by themselves. Systematic guidelines on how to perform key techniques as well as coaching in the systematic planning and conduction of workshops by Fraunhofer IESE personnel enabled Fujitsu EST to perform and moderate this and future workshops independently and successfully.
The benefit of the collaboration project for Fujitsu EST was twofold: First, by conducting the creativity workshops, innovative product ideas were derived that appear to be promising for creating future business. Following initial validation procedures, the most promising idea has already received a Fujitsu-internal innovation award. Currently, this idea is in the process of being prototyped at EST. During the second phase, Fraunhofer IESE transferred its know-how regarding how to perform creativity techniques to EST. A series of further creativity workshops were performed and moderated by EST personnel on their own. Fujitsu EST has now successfully established the planning and performance of such creativity workshops as part of their innovation process. Furthermore, these techniques are being shared and rolled out across the organization as a whole, empowering staff and supporting EST as it moves beyond single innovation activities and towards a more creative culture at all levels.