The Alpha Pro Pump- A Case Study of Competitive Innovation
Case study 5.2 is an illustration of the challenges that organizations face when going through a process of change. Grundfos’ win confirms that it is possible to turn the challenges innovatively and creatively into opportunities. The process of developing the Alpha pro pump was characterized by a need first to convince internal stakeholders of its efficiency and necessity. Prior to making this investment, the company had to set up a team of externally sought individuals to assess its viability. In addition, the pump’s production required a change throughout the company, which was not easy due to resistance from various departments (Dawson & Andriopoulos, 2017).
The need to lobby for a change of legislation became a companywide activity. The engineers and employees were committed to convincing politicians within the European region of the inefficiencies associated with the other pumps that were in the market at the time. Categorization of pumps based on their efficiency provided the final gateway to the product’s successful launch. The Alpha Pro pump was categorized in the ‘A’ category and was only produced by Grundfos (Dawson & Andriopoulos, 2017). This created a competitive edge for the company before the other competitors adapted to the change.
Questions and answers
Innovation is often referred to as translating new ideas into processes, products, or services (Thompson, 1965). This is an example of a new product, but can we explain the innovation process without considering the wide range of involved stakeholders, the time and context under which activities and events occurred, and the external/internal dynamics in shaping the speed and direction of innovative change? Provide a summary of the key shapers of these changes and evaluate their contribution to our understanding of innovation.
The innovation process cannot be explained without considering the stakeholders, dynamics, events, time, and other factors that existed during the occurrence. The process of innovating is dependent on all these factors that take place and push an organization to translate innovative ideas into actual products and services. In this case study, the key shapers include human resources, policies, current market products, the ineffectiveness of these products, and the prices of the pumps. The human resources that realized the potential of the smart power chip in the research and development department initiated the process of innovation. The inefficiency of current pumps available in the market motivated the company to seek to produce a better pump that incorporated the smart power chip and performed better than the competitors’ products.
In addition, the lack of policies that set regulations regarding the sale of energy-efficient pumps led the organization to push for legislation that set forth clear categories and encouraged recognition of pumps as a stand-alone product. The prices that were expected to increase by two or three times required the organization to find ways to ensure the product has leverage in the market as a superior offering. These factors interacted to ensure that Grundfos achieved the most effective and long-term conditions that would support the innovation (Dawson & Andriopoulos, 2017).
Is innovation a nonlinear political process? Explain your answer based on the case material, the literature, and your own work experiences.
Innovation is a nonlinear political process that does not adhere to any logical procedure. As demonstrated in the case, the start of innovation is simple but branches into numerous aspects that interact to either enable or increase difficulties toward the goal. Grundfos began this process with the idea of a smart chip that could increase the energy efficiency of pumps. This idea branched into numerous aspects, including cost, viability, acceptance in the market, changes in the company’s procedures, prices, legislations, and environmental factors (Dawson & Andriopoulos, 2017). These issues compelled the company to consider all the elements at once instead of solving one after another. Therefore, it is impossible to innovate on a straight line, considering the numerous aspects involved with every issue that arises.
What are the main lessons on managing innovation that can be learned from this case study?
Management of innovation is a mentally and physically involving activity. It demands the active involvement of various stakeholders in the internal and external environments. Organizations ought to prepare their managers for the process of innovation management because it also incorporates resistance (Zafar, Butt, & Afzal, 2014). The changes that come with innovation can encounter resistance from any quarter of the organization. The managers should be strategic about the process to ensure that the most important stakeholders, such as employees, understand and accept these changes. Employees are critical to this process because of their active involvement in the process. To successfully manage innovation, creativity is key because it provides solutions to the problems that arise during the process (Dawson & Andriopoulos, 2017).
Creativity and innovation
The study highlights creativity and innovation as critical aspects of the highlighted organization. Creativity during innovation is critical because it ensures that an organization sees the process through. Innovation is a challenging process that demands the complete involvement of all stakeholders, especially those in the internal environment. I believe that creativity and innovation are intertwined in an organizational setting. It is impossible to manage innovation without being creative. The creativity of the involved stakeholders is critical in deviating the process from the various challenges (NCVO, 2020). Failure to innovate creatively may lead to the premature death of an idea due to challenges that seem impossible to solve.
Change is also highlighted in the case study as an inevitable process. An organization that seeks to innovate must be ready to make changes that come with the process of innovation. It is not possible to operate normally during innovation. Change is unsettling for all stakeholders in both external and internal environments. It is associated with new policies, work procedures, manufacturing processes, and probably job descriptions (Zafar, Butt, & Afzal, 2014). These changes can instill fear in some of the stakeholders and yield resistance. Management of change is intended to minimize such resistance.
I agree that change is an inherent innovation process, as demonstrated in the case study. An organization that seeks to actualize an idea should expect to undergo changes that may overhaul the entire entity or part of it. Active involvement is critical in ensuring that the change is not resisted strongly. Seeking to create an understanding of these changes is important in ensuring that the employees embrace the process and work towards the vision (SHRM, 2021).
The selection of critical aspects was guided by the main shapers that are identified in the case. Since the case highlights issues that Grundfos encountered while creating a new product, these aspects provided a basis for critical elements. As such, the critical elements played a vital role in the achievement of the company’s goal because they were handled well (Dawson & Andriopoulos, 2017). Suppose the company did not handle these appropriately; the outcome would have been negative.
The innovation and creativity elements were selected through analysis of the case study. Reading through the case study, one can identify the instances during which creativity comes into play. At the same time, one can identify the progress and trajectory of the innovation process. The actions that the company takes to ensure that the opportunity to introduce the new product is sustained reveal the zeal of managers and their willingness to tap into the workforce’s ideas (Dawson & Andriopoulos, 2017). Through the process, one identifies the active involvement of all individuals in the external and internal environments.
Most importantly, the final solution that the company uses to bring the new product into the market reveals that innovation during product development is continuous but does not follow a certain direction or order. The various shapes that exist in the organization’s environment do so randomly. They tend to pull the management in different directions that are expected to lead to the same goal (Dawson & Andriopoulos, 2017). Furthermore, the key issues demand rapid decision-making as the entity progresses in the other aspects of the innovation process. These elements combine to reveal the critical aspects that could have affected the innovation process at Grundfos adversely or positively.
Employee involvement in the process of innovation and change
Change is a process that accompanies innovation in an organization. Change is unsettling and may cause employees to put up resistance, which mainly occurs due to fear of the unknown. Employees can resist change due to the fear that they will lose instead of gain (SHRM, 2021). Their involvement is critical for addressing any concerns that they may have.
Active involvement of external stakeholders
External stakeholders are important to the process of innovation. Their input, which is indirect, can lead the process of innovation in the desired direction. It is important to find strategies for involving these stakeholders. Policymakers are an example of stakeholders whose actions could influence the process of innovation (Dawson & Andriopoulos, 2017).
Investigation of a new product’s viability prior to investment
Every organization should investigate the viability and feasibility of a new product before making an investment. The process of investigation should be impartial and objective. This ensures that the organization realizes a return on investment and attains efficiency (Dawson & Andriopoulos, 2017).
Consideration of policies that could hinder the success of a product in the market
Innovation requires an organization to examine the policies that regulate the specific product or service. This ensures that the new product or service is not hindered by existing policies. This examination should guide the actions that an entity chooses to take to ensure conditions favor the product/service.
Creation of an environment that favors the new product through lobbying
Lobbying is one of the strategies that an organization can use to ensure that policies favor a product’s existence (Dawson & Andriopoulos, 2017). Such regulation provides an entity with insight on potential obstacles should the product be introduced without any changes.
The change process in an organization is inevitable if the intention to innovate exists. An entity that facilitates the involvement of employees in the innovation process stands to record a successful change management period as opposed to those that fail to apply this approach. Creativity is essential during change and innovation to ensure that the challenges are utilized beneficially. External factors and stakeholders (Dawson & Andriopoulos, 2017) may influence the process of change. The organization is responsible for ensuring that the influence is positive or can be used to propel change further. Thus, it is impossible to explain innovation in an organization without involving the stakeholders and other environmental dynamics. Regardless, change always offers an organization a chance to compete more efficiently.
Environmental awareness is also highlighted as an important aspect of innovation. The management should be aware of the internal and external environmental factors. For instance, regulations determine the acceptability of a product in the market, its price range, and marketing elements. This means that it is impossible to act without taking into consideration aspects that could affect the products. This consideration saves an entity from failure by increasing the chances of success. The threats in the market could be converted into opportunities that favor the new product. Such awareness determines the need for lobbying or any other action that can influence favorable change. The organization’s ability to identify market inefficiencies that can be addressed using a new product can be considered a competitive advantage. Therefore, examination of existing gaps in the market provides an entity with a clear picture of where the product or service may fit and generate profits.
Dawson, P., & Andriopoulos, C. (2017). Managing Change, Creativity & Innovation. Sage.
NCVO. (2020). Involving stakeholders in change.
SHRM. (2021). Managing Organizational Change. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/managingorganizationalchange.aspx
Zafar, F., Butt, A., & Afzal, B. (2014). Strategic Management: Managing Change by Employee Involvement. International Journal of Sciences: Basic and Applied Research, 13(1), 205-217.
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1. Carefully READ the entire CASE first, and review the chapter(s) pertaining to the case(s) again. Take time to think critically about all of the aspects of the case(s).
2. Write a brief Overview/Summary of the case in your own words describing the nature and/or background information pertaining to the case. (Minimum 1/2 -1 page)
3. In your opinion, what were some Critical Aspects in the case that were identified? What were some Critical Aspects that you perceived to be very vital? (Minimum 1 page)
4. How were you able to make those Assessments of selecting the critical aspects or components for the case author/writer and for yourself? (Minimum 1 page)
5. Identify and/or list some of the Outcomes, Solutions, and/or Resolutions you extrapolated from the case. (Minimum 1 page)
6. Write a Reflection on what you learned from the case pertaining to global leadership. (Minimum 1 page)
7. Make sure your paper format is outlined with the above: (1) Cover Page Sectional Headings (2) Overview/Summary, (3) Questions and Answers, (4) Critical Aspects and/or Assessments, and (5) Reflection page.