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Experimentation Matters: Unlocking the Potential of New Technologies for Innovation Hardcover – June 12, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


"A must read." -- Today's Books, August 4, 2003

"A new angle on innovation" -- Financial Times, October 30, 2003

"Experimentation Matters offers many useful insights into innovation and demonstrates how new technologies can have profound effects on business experimentation." -- Inc.com, September 30, 2003

"This is a highly informative and comprehensive work. Very highly recommended." -- Stern's Management Review, September 22, 2003

From the Inside Flap

"Thomke makes a major contribution to the science of innovation with Experimentation Matters. Using case studies across diverse industries, he compellingly demonstrates how new technologies are fundamentally changing the ways both business organizations and individual researchers innovate. Thomke's experimentation principles provide the roadmap to a future of rapid, cost-effective, and highly innovative product development." -Dr. Lawrence D. Burns, Vice President, Research & Development and Planning, General Motors Corporation

"Experimentation Matters is one of the most important and useful books about innovation that I have ever read. Thomke masterfully shows how new technologies and processes for rapid learning can improve the effectiveness and speed of product development." -Clayton M. Christensen, Professor, Harvard Business School, and author, The Innovator's Dilemma

"Thomke illuminates how new technologies have profoundly affected business experimentation and shifted managerial notions of what it means to be innovative. Companies that fail to heed his call to design, organize, and effectively manage their innovation processes will pay the cost, both in misspent dollars and creativity." -Dr. Peter B. Corr, Senior Vice President, Science and Technology, Pfizer, Inc.

"Thomke provides unique insight on a much neglected element of competitive success„oexperimentation. His very powerful and persuasive book shows how firms can use new technologies, such as the revolutionary advances in computer simulation, to achieve dramatic improvements in the productivity of experiments, and save crucial time in the difficult and dangerous passage between an innovative idea and a successful new product." -Dr. Henry C. Kelly, President, Federation of American Scientists

"If you want to understand how testing and experimentation strategies can make companies more productive and innovative, reading Experimentation Matters is a great start!"

-Steven J. Sinofsky, Senior Vice President, Office, Microsoft Corporation

"Thomke's book is a landmark achievement. He is absolutely right--experimentation lies at the heart of innovation. Thomke builds upon his own very original and rigorous research to explain how new technologies for experimentation are transforming product development and strongly affecting the economics of innovation as well. Both innovation researchers and managers will find Experimentation Matters to be an extremely interesting and valuable book." -Eric von Hippel, Professor, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author, The Sources of Innovation


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (June 12, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578517508
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578517503
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #533,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Max More on November 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The way to succeed is to double your failure rate. That comment by Thomas Watson, Sr. is not among the innovators' words of wisdom in Stefan Thomke's densely informative exploration of technologies and processes of experimentation but it perfectly fits the message. Central to Thomke's message in this book is the idea that iterated experimentation through the use of models, prototypes, and computer simulations is the key to learning and innovation. Getting the key to fit in the lock of increased organizational innovation capability, however, takes some jiggling and struggling. Experimentation Matters details the technologies that can transform innovation but place just as much emphasis on the changes that must be made to business processes, organization, culture, incentives, and management. Thomke provides plenty of detailed illustrations of companies wrestling with these issues, and offers six principles revolving to help companies experiment early and often and to organize for rapid iteration.
The first part of the book explains in depth the reasons why experimentation matters for learning and innovation, and how new technologies are affecting the development of both products and services. Thomke shows how the rate of learning is influenced by several factors that affect the process and how it is managed: fidelity, cost, iteration time, capacity, sequential and parallel strategies, signal-to-noise ratio, and type of experiment.
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Format: Hardcover
Observation, exploration and experimentation have been the three basic means of learning for scientists. Of these, experimentation calls for the highest levels of external intervention and as a topic by itself has always been of interest to statisticians who have developed powerful techniques to derive maximum information through the least possible number of experiments. Application of these statistical techniques has resulted in substantial reduction in research expenditure, quicker understanding of scientific principles and shorter time to convert ideas into useful products. On the other hand new technologies like simulation, CAD/CAE that harness the advances in computing have completely changed the experimental landscape by providing powerful techniques for rapid and economical experimentation on our desktops and servers. To cite one example discussed in this book, car maker BMW's crash simulation test progressed from 3000 to 700000 finite elements between 1982 to 2002 while simultaneously resulting in reduction of processing time from 3 months to 30 hours. Power of computing enables "front-loaded" innovation - understanding the phenomenon before committing resources into physical manufacturing.
But the lacuna is that experimentation has never been thought as a separate management discipline cutting across functional silos to bring innovative solutions into the marketplace. Experimentation as a strategic tool that needs management attention and involvement is the core theme of this book.
Management deals with producing results under uncertainty. Uncertainty can be broadly classified under technical, production, market and customer needs. Experimentation should tell us not only what will work, but also what does NOT work.
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Format: Hardcover
The book's significance lies in Stefan Thomke's idea that sound experimentation is at the crux of the innovation process. This is a departure from either the fairly generalised thinking about product development and/or innovation, on the one hand, and the overly specific focus on techniques like simulation, on the other, that one tends to find nowadays. Experimentation is, of course, an old and commonplace idea in scientific circles and in some specialised management areas. But I believe this book will lead the way in making experimentation a crucial part of mainstream corporate management.
Thomke has developed his own conceptual framework for this purpose consisting of the four stages of "design-build-run-analyse". He focuses on a wide range of new experimentation technologies (including simulation) and he has studied how they are applied in a wide range of industries. He makes it a point to distill the knowledge thus gained into sets of principles, key factors, steps, findings etc at regular intervals. Thus the book's contents have been made highly accessible to a managerial audience. Managers will appreciate the challenge Thomke presents of tapping into the full potential of experimentation.
The book should also prove a valuable academic resource in management given the rigour of the research and its great managerial relevance. In fact, Thomke's cutting edge idea of customer toolkits for innovation (which catapult experimentation from the corporate realm to the customer domain) is already germinating in India. I, myself, have published a scholarly article on it very recently and I know others who have devoted sessions to it in top-flight MBA and executive programs here.
The book should make for absorbing reading by the management community worldwide and I recommend it highly.
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