Serial Innovators' processes: How they overcome barriers to creating radical innovations

Abbie Griffin, Raymond L. Price, Bruce A. Vojak, Nathan Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Formal new product development processes typically are depicted in the literature as linear processes having some number of stages, each of which is completed by a cross-functional team. At the end of each stage a management committee makes a decision as to whether the project will proceed to the next stage, be stopped, or recycle through the previous stage to better complete some of the tasks or steps in the stage. Teams proceed stage by stage, until the product is launched into the market.However, this formal process typically is positioned as occurring after the "fuzzy front end" (FFE), the chaotic, messy up-front part of new product development before there is a solidified concept. Because incremental, evolutionary innovations go through an abbreviated FFE, or even have none at all, these formal processes work quite well for them. However, radical innovations typically have very messy, chaotic and fuzzy front ends, which are not helped by these formal processes. Formal product development processes may actually act as a barrier to radical innovation. Very little research to date has investigated processes that overcome the barriers to radical innovation and allow firms to successfully bring radical innovations to market.This research investigates the product development processes used by 19 Serial Innovators-individuals in large, mature firms who have been associated with one after another radical innovation success. We find that Serial Innovators' processes have four specific features that enable them to overcome organizational barriers and allow them to create and successfully commercialize radical innovations. Serial Innovators' processes:.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1362-1371
Number of pages10
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Innovators
  • Product development process
  • Radical innovation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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