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The object of analysis of this explorative research is the Fuzzy Front End of Innovation in Product Development, described by those activities going from the opportunity identification to the concept definition. Business scholars have shown that confusion in terms of goals and different ideas about opportunities; make this early phase of the innovation process uncertain and extremely risky. Literature suggests that the understanding, selection and use of appropriate tools/techniques to support decision making are instrumental for a less fuzzy front end of innovation. This paper
considers the adoption and use of such tools and the ways that new product development processes can change accordingly.
The starting hypothesis that we test here, using 5 case studies in Italy and Denmark, is that managers have to fully understand the needed input requirements and be aware of potential of such tools, in order to experience the expected outcomes downstream. By means of in depth semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and an online survey, we will here investigate the dynamics of tools selection, exploring its effect on the level of difficulty of usage and the potential impact on the efficacy of the new product development process is carried-out.
First results show that managers have a low/very low awareness of tools’ inputs/outputs requirements. This gives life to the problem according to which managers cannot select appropriate tools if they do not know their basic
characteristics, challenging the opportunity to improve the efficacy of the NPD process. The problem is exacerbated by the contrasting assessments got on the dimension of the tools’ difficulty of usage: the low tools’ inputs/outputs requirements awareness inevitably affect the level of perceived difficulty of usage which, in turn, pushes managers in the wrong direction when they have to cope with the tools selection problem.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 18th International Product Development Management Conference
Number of pages14
Publication date2011
StatePublished - 2011
Event18th International Product Development Management Conference - Delft, Netherlands


Conference18th International Product Development Management Conference
LocationDelft University of Technology
Internet address


  • Tools requirements, Tool adoption, Fuzzy front end, New product development, Core front end, PD methods, Case Study, Decision making, Design, Environmental impact, Lifecycle
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