Research for increased benefit of innovation assessments

Article · 2020-02-28

There are several different measurement tools that companies and organizations can use to assess their own prerequisites for innovation. Helena Blackbright, researcher at Mälardalen University and project manager at Automation Region, has studied what determines the effect and benefit of these self-assessments.

Helena Blackbright, researcher at Mälardalen University and project manager at Automation Region.

Self-assessment tools often describe what is considered good practice when it comes to conditions for innovation. For example, support for internally sharing information, active work with business intelligence or structures that enable quick decisions and flexibility. The comparison between good practice and one's own situation should then highlight strengths and possible areas of improvement.

– Self-assessment tools can provide structure and support for organizations that want to boost their innovation ability, says Helena Blackbright. The goal of my research is to increase the understanding of what is needed for these tools to really work and create value.

On February 13, Helena Blackbright defended her PhD thesis Exploring Purposeful Use of Innovation Self-Assessments. Her study includes data from nine organizations where a total of 14 groups have used different self-assessment tools. The groups have taken single or repeated measurements of several aspects of their own innovation climate. Among the participating organizations are Automation Region's member companies ABB, Bombardier, Eskilstuna Elektronik Partner and Prevas.

Helena Blackbright's research shows that the effect and benefit of self-assessments largely depends on four different parameters:

  • Current status – how well those who carry out the self-assessment know the current situation that is being investigated, such as routines, working methods, and the employees' attitude to innovation.
  • Self-assessment area – the level of knowledge in the area being evaluated, for example how new ideas can be utilized to contribute to innovative ability.
  • Implementation – the ability to carry out a self-assessment process, for example how the measurement should be prepared and performed, and how the information should be analyzed and presented.
  • Support process – knowledge and powers to carry out the self-assessment process with regard to, for example, allocation of resources, knowledge support, coordination and change management.

– In order for the self-assessment tool to be useful, it also requires that the expectations of the result correspond to the organization's ability to use the tool, says Helena Blackbright.

Helena Blackbright has shared her time between research at Mälardalen University and a position as project manager with responsibility for academic collaboration at Automation Region. In both these roles she has worked with a clear focus on innovation and in recent years she has also developed an interest in artificial intelligence.

– It is very interesting to study how various AI technologies such as machine learning affect our way of innovating, but also how they drive structural change in society, says Helena Blackbright.

Helena Blackbright is currently working on a research application where she hopes to be able to use the work from the dissertation to build increased understanding of how AI affects the innovation management field.

Read the thesis →
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