The fast transformation of technologies into new products or processes is one of the core challenges for any technology-based enterprise. Within the innovation process, we believe, the early phases (fuzzy front end) to have the highest impact on the whole process and the result (Input-Output Process), since it will influence the design and total costs of the innovation extremely. However the Fuzzy Front End is unfortunately the least-well structured part of the innovation process, both in theory and in practice. The focus of the present chapter is on methods and tools to manage the fuzzy front end of the innovation process. Firstly, the activities, characteristics, and challenges of the front end are described. Secondly, a framework of the application fields for different methods and tools is presented: Since a product upgrade requires a different approach compared to radical innovation, where the market is unknown and a new technology is applied, we believe such a framework to be useful for practitioners. Thirdly, a selection of methods and tools that can be applied to the fuzzy front end are presented and allocated within the framework. The methods selected here address process improvements, concept generation, and concept testing.
fuzzy front end innovation management stage-gate process frontloading triz dsm-matrix lead user