The innovation game: lessons in strategy and managing operations

Baris Yalabik, M A Howard, Sinéad Roden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (SciVal)
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Purpose: This paper seeks to present a teaching tool (the Innovation Game) which aims to demonstrate the challenges of developing an effective innovation strategy in the context of new product development. The goal of the game is to enable participants to experience how strategic and operational choices made in relation to innovation strategy are interrelated and how these choices can impact on new product development success. Specifically the paper aims to explore the impact of choices made in relation to capability accumulation, capacity management and product-portfolio management. Design/methodology/approach: After presenting the learning objectives for the game with the support of relevant literature, the paper describes the design of the game and the context in which it was played. The paper reviews feedback (learning outcomes) from formal reflective post-game sessions with participants. This feedback indicates that the learning objectives have been satisfied. Findings: Through experiential learning and reflective practice participants learn, for example, that: capabilities need to match the intended strategy; investing in production capacity can be leveraged to aid negotiations with competitors, or it can be used as a bully tactic; and, it sometimes is better to be an R&D "follower" rather than a "leader". The participants also learn that the alignment of operational and strategic choices is necessary in order to leverage success in developing new products but that the actions and strategies of competitors have a direct impact also and need to be considered carefully. Research limitations/implications: The teaching tool adopts a participative game playing and reflective learning approach to introduce into class some of the real-life competitive dynamics of managing new product development and decision making normally confined to the boardroom. While it is argued that the game demonstrates the challenges of developing successful strategy, the game is set in a static context in which certain external contingencies are not accounted for. Originality/value: Demonstration of the importance of strategy to new product development is particularly difficult because of the longitudinal nature of product development and the tacit nature of the decision making process which often transpires long after projects are completed. The paper posits that the value of the Innovation Game is in reflecting on it as a practical, interactive tool that helps participants appreciate the challenges inherent in strategic and operational decision making related to innovation strategy and new product development success.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1441-1459
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Operations & Production Management
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


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