A universal toolkit for strategic planning, innovation and technology management
Organisations face a number of difficult challenges when attempting to implement management tools. Typically such challenges can be related to two primary categories: (i) the adoption of specific tools, and (ii) the development of integrated toolkits. There are numerous management tools available, often the choice can be overwhelming especially given the plethora of variations for some types of tool. Selecting a number of ‘useful’ tools, from those deemed to be appropriate for the given task, is a major barrier to the potential uptake by organisations. Then, even with an appropriate selection of tools, there are the issues of integrating the individual tools into a consolidated toolkit and deploying such a toolkit in a coherent and effective manner.
To help organisations proactively address these issues, a ‘scalable toolkit platform’ has been developed in order to enable the design and deployment of coherent, useful and practical tool sets in industrial settings. By combining the principles of scalability, modularity, synchronicity and functionality, the scalable toolkit platform has the ability to respond to the breadth of tasks faced within the areas of strategic planning, technology and innovation management. The platform is based on a core set of powerful, well-established and proven tools (i.e. roadmaps, portfolio matrices and interlinked grids).
Roadmaps are deployed to conduct the operations of ‘align’ and ‘plan’. They enable different stakeholder groups to gain alignment on how best to move forward/realise a vision. Within the scalable toolkit platform, roadmaps provide the mechanisms for synchronisation.
Portfolio matrices are deployed to conduct the operations of ‘prioritise’ and ‘balance’. These operations provide a means to focus - whether this be focussing on specific layers/areas of a roadmap or from the need to provide a focal lens on the analysis resulting from an interlinked grid.
Interlinked grids are deployed to conduct the operations of ‘plot’ and ‘weight’. The plotting function is aimed at uncovering relationships, unravelling complex interconnections, emphasising interdependencies, highlighting gaps and even overlaps. As such, interlinked grids are the ‘link’ mechanism in the platform. The weighting function can then be applied to provide contrast and significance to the plots. This includes such methods as simple scoring, or rating schemes, through to more elaborate methods such as those of multiple-criteria decision analysis. The results of which can be portrayed on a portfolio matrix or in support of a roadmap depiction.
A scalable platform:
Although there are just three types of tool in the platform, each is generalised to be applicable to different organisational contexts, including hierarchical levels or ‘orders’ - in this case 1st and 2nd order. For instance, 1st order might relate to a business unit and 2nd order could then refer to the products being developed by that business unit. Or alternatively, the 1st order might be a technological domain and the 2nd order corresponds to potential projects within that domain. The ‘order’ refers to the scalable nature of the platform and is dependent upon the unit of analysis of the organisational situation and its corresponding elements. It means that the platform has the flexibility to be employed at the various different levels both within and surrounding an organisation. For example, all three types of tool in the platform can be used at the firm level and then scaled up to relate the firm to its market/sectors, or scaled down to relate the firm to its portfolio/products/technologies.