3) Building the Foundation for Innovation

Corporate System, Culture and Capability

The key to innovation is people – employees with ability and will.

The right corporate culture creates an atmosphere for employees to learn and thrive. Capabilities come from talented people who continue to learn and adapt. Willingness flourishes under a culture created by committed and collaborative employees.

Building the Foundation for Sustainable Innovation

The organization’s corporate system determines its culture. Building the foundation starts with the corporate system. 

“A bad system will beat a good person every time.”  W. Edwards Deming

So we should construct the system for the people – the desirable employees who the organization wants to attract and keep. Then, we form a culture of innovation on top of that.

A desirable corporate culture attracts talent and stimulates continuous learning, therefore creating capabilities. 

By design, a company can introduce projects and utilize the right project management tactics to:

  • provide a suitable work environment
  • change its organizational structure
  • reduce dependency on key individuals
  • create a flexible and agile system
  • offer career development opportunities
  • develop leadership skills
  • promote collaboration and teamwork
  • build a motivated and committed workforce
  • introduce fun and enjoyment to work
  • encourage risk-taking
  • simulate the desires for learning and mastery,

and ultimately drive sustainable innovation.

Final Thoughts

Continuous Improvement projects are imperative for setting up a culture of innovation. Drive CI project participation and engagement with three strategic angles: Lean, improvement challenges and career development.

Core projects must be carefully selected and receive the highest priority and focus.

Understand the technology development cycle helps us to pursue PF projects with patience and persistence.

Work Buildup Structure (WBuS) incorporates innovation into the task generation process, which is a better alternative to the traditional Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). WBS is a top-down approach and WBuS is a bottom up approach. The key characteristics of WBuS, which are not presented in traditional WBS, are: 1) the team must work with customers to identify their expectations, 2) build a vision as well as tasks that lead to exceeding those expectations and 3) distinguish risk containment and risk-taking tactics based on tasks.

MBPM is about using project mapping at the strategic level to transform a corporation’s system, culture and capability to establish a foundation for continuous innovation. The key strategic elements of MBPM are 1) strategically utilizing projects to build a foundation for sustainable innovation, 2) mapping projects into three categories with alignment to corporate development, 3) using the right Project Management approaches for the right projects, and 4) promoting an all-inclusive innovative culture with projects for every employee.

Note: This article was based on text excerpted from the book “Project Management for Continuous Innovation” the authorship of Dr. Kern Peng. Published by Pike Publications, Cupertino, California. 

Dr. Peng is currently working at Intel, managing the California Validation Center consisting of Santa Clara Validation Center at Intel’s headquarter in Silicon Valley and Folsom Validation Center near California state capital Sacramento. He has over 30 years of management experience in engineering and manufacturing and have been a manager at Intel since 1992. He has been accorded more than 100 career awards in the areas of engineering design, software development, excursion resolution, project management and execution, teamwork, leadership and teaching. In addition to regular duties, he serves as a career advisor, mentor for managers, and new employee orientation instructor at Intel. 

Since 2000, in addition to working full time at Intel, Dr. Peng has been part-time teaching at least two courses every quarter/semester term at Bay Area universities such as Stanford University, Santa Clara University, University of San Francisco, and San Jose State University. He also travels to Asia several times a year to regularly teach for Hong Kong University. In addition, he has taught courses and lectures for Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University, National Taiwan University, UC Berkeley, and San Jose State University.

About the Author:

Dr. Kern Peng holds doctorate degrees in engineering and business: Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering specializing in nanocomposite materials, Doctorate of Business Administration in Operations Management and in Management Information Systems. He also holds an MBA in Computer Information Systems and a BS in Industrial Engineering. He has published two books solely in addition to this book and many papers in respected journals and forums such as Engineering Management Journal of IEE, Manufacturing Engineer of IEE, Journal of Advanced Materials, SEMATECH Manufacturing Management Symposium, and Tsinghua Business Review. 


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