New product development requires organizations to facilitate cooperation and coordination between department boundaries within the organization. To facilitate this cooperation and coordination, organizations form cross-functional new product development teams to lead and manage the development process for new products. There are several variations that these teams can be formed and managed. New product development teams can be structured into four types: functional, lightweight, heavyweight, and autonomous (Schilling, 2008). In functional teams, members remain in their respective departments and report to their regular manager. In this type of team, members meet periodically to discuss the project. This type of team is usually temporary and team members may only spend a small amount of time on team projects (Schilling, 2008).
In lightweight teams, members are still a part of their functional departments, as with functional teams, however, unlike functional teams, a lightweight team has a project manager and a dedicated liaison to facilitate communication and coordination between functions (Schilling, 2008). Heavyweight team members are removed from their functional departments and are collocated with a project manager. The project managers in heavyweight teams are usually members of senior management with significant authority to command resources. Under a heavyweight team, members are assigned full-time to the project. This helps ensure cross-functional coordination and communication (Schilling, 2008). Under autonomous teams, members are completely removed from their functional departments and dedicated full-time to the development team. In this type of team, membership is sometimes permanent. This type of team is headed by a very senior manager with full control over resources contributed from different functional departments (Schilling, 2008).
Autonomous teams often create their own policies, procedures, and reward systems, apart from the rest of the organization. They are also held fully responsible for the success or failure of any given project. In many ways, autonomous teams behave as if they are independent decisions within the organization. This allows rapid and efficient new product development because they do not have to deal with organizational procedures, which could slow the development process (Schilling, 2008).There are many challenges managers face when managing innovation. Alcatel – Lucent has a proven record of accomplishment with teams within the Bell Laboratories. Alcatel – Lucent prides itself on being the place where innovation, through vision and technology, intercept the needs of its customers from incubating start-up projects to performing fundamental and applied research. Bell Labs is the engine behind innovation at Alcatel – Lucent designing products and services that are at the forefront of communications technology. More than any other institution, Bell Labs has been at the forefront weaving technological fabric of modern society (Alcatel – Lucent | Innovation, 2006 – 2010).
Their scientist and engineers have made seminal discoveries, launched technical revolutions that have reshaped the way people live, work, and play. They have built the most advanced and reliable communications networks in the world. Bell Labs has helped Alcatel – Lucent take the lead in shaping tomorrows broadband networks powered with service intelligence at every network layer (Alcatel – Lucent | Innovation, 2006 – 2010) Bell Labs enjoys a rich tradition of inventions and innovations that have fundamentally changed the way people communicate and share their lives. Bell Labs utilizes an autonomous team format that recognizes both multiple dimensions of research as well as cross-discipline (cross-functional) interactions are critical to the innovation process. Bell Labs scientific disciplines include mathematicians, algorithmic scientist, physical scientist, nanotechnologist, software and computer scientist, and many other specified scientist and researchers (Alcatel – Lucent | Innovation, 2006 – 2010).
Bell Labs research culture can be summed up in two words: innovating innovation. They are continuously reevaluating, reassessing, and improving how its research contributes to Alcatel – Lucent. Its scientist are a flexible group with a commitment to venturing new paths and seeking out new approaches to product development (Alcatel – Lucent, 2010). At Bell Labs, there is a culture of innovating innovation that is based on two key criteria: a critical mass of scientist and an entrepreneurial persona. The critical mass of diverse scientist and engineers generate big ideas and work through those ideas from multiple angles, allowing them to approach complex issues from a variety of perspectives and integrate those perspectives into groundbreaking new products and services. Their adoption of an entrepreneurial persona ensures that some of the most promising near term research assets are driven into the business and carried into the market. This process allows Bell Labs researchers work together to direct research insights and innovations into commercialized products and validate them in the marketplace (Alcatel – Lucent, 2010).
Bell Labs is a research organization with a unique and diverse set of expertise that stretches across a wide gamut of scientific disciplines that has played a major role in some of the most revolutionary inventions of the last hundred years. It is an organization that has left huge footprints on the communications landscape and continues to explore new paths in unchartered territory (Alcatel – Lucent, 2010). Over the next five to ten years, Bell Labs and Alcatel – Lucent will continue to be at the forefront of telecommunications solutions and innovations. There market position will only improve with new breakthroughs in communication devices that provide the best solutions for today’s enterprises and governments.
Alcatel – Lucent | Company Overview. (2006 – 2010). Retrieved April 30, 2010, from Alcatel – Lucent – About Us: http://www.alcatel-lucent.com/wps/portal/AboutUs/Overview/?lu_lang_code=en
Alcatel – Lucent | Innovation. (2006 – 2010). Acatel – Lucent | About Alcatel – Lucent Innovation. Retrieved April 30, 2010, from Alcatel – Lucent – About Innovation: http://www.alcatel-lucent.com/wps/portal/!ut/p/kcxml/04_Sj9SPykssy0xPLMnMz0vM0Y_QjzKLd4w3MfQFSYGYRq6m-pEoYgbxjgiRIH1vfV-P_NxU_QD9gtzQiHJHR0UAAD_zXg!!/delta/base64xml/L2dJQSEvUUt3QS80SVVFLzZfQV9CVEg!
Alcatel – Lucent. (2010). Innovating Innovation. Retrieved July 6, 2010, from Bell Labs | Alcatel – Lucent: http://www.alcatel-lucent.com/wps/portal/!ut/p/kcxml/04_Sj9SPykssy0xPLMnMz0vM0Y_QjzKLd4x3DnAFSYGYRq6m-pEoYgbxjggRX4_83FT9IH1v_QD9gtzQiHJHR0UAZYL6lQ!!/delta/base64xml/L3dJdyEvd0ZNQUFzQUMvNElVRS82X0FfNDND
Schilling, M. A. (2008). Strategic Management of Technological Innovation, 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.