Information flows are mediated and supported by an appropriate work-organisation format and design methodology. However, in order for these modes of organisation and design methods to be deployed successfully, the necessary informal as well as formal information flows and communication patterns have to be put in place and have to be sustained. Hence, there is a direct two-way interaction between structural variables such as organisation, design methodology and design technology on the one hand and information flows on the other hand. This two-way interaction is at the heart of the process of coping with ambiguity and uncertainty as discussed earlier. The two-way interaction also is at the center of what I will later call the ‘Integrated Design Capability’ of the innovative firm.

As further shown in Figure 1, innovation performance is a complex and multi-dimensional construct. Performance relates to such rational, financial indicators as market shares and revenues that accrue from new product development activities. However, market shares and revenues are only one dimension of the performance concept. The second route toward measuring performance refers to the internal efficiency of the process. It considers the extent to which the development process is efficiently managed in terms of, for instance, throughput times during the various phases of the innovation trajectory (e.g. time-to-concept, experimental problem-solving cycle times, time-to-ramp-up). A third type of performance dimension relates to ‘perceptual’ indicators such as the innovation’s contribution to the competitive edge of the organisation.

It is important to accept the multidimensionality of the performance construct. Early studies on innovation performance have indeed focused quite heavily on the market and financial performance indicators. Even today, many project management techniques that are used to follow-up on new product development projects still use this rather linear approach. In an era where the capability to quickly learn from failure and experimentation is probably one of the hallmark characteristics of successful innovators, this traditional, rational performance approach may be dangerous, as it tends to focus on single-loop learning rather than double-loop learning.
These dimensions of innovative performance (often operationalised at the project-level and aggregated at the portfolio-level) are influenced and leveraged by a myriad of parameters, as is further shown in Figure 1. As mentioned, communication patterns, information flows, and work organisation techniques are at the core of this framework. In addition, there are important roles to be assumed.

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Design Management
VIZO Workshop

“Design makes the Difference”
Brussels, Belgium - 29/30 November 2002

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