Smart products is an integrated part of our life, in today’s world no one can live without a smart phone, email, social networks etc. Using new theories in management and the application of these theories can help managers to create smart products. How managers can bring about a revolution of innovative products and why it is important to listen to your consumers and follow market trends are the kind of questions this essay answers. It talks about Innovation and adaptability and the relation between entrepreneurship and management. All of these are the key factors for creating innovative smart products.
Organizational structure and plans about the future integrated with good communication flow inside the organization is what is helping managers to create tech market leaders such as Facebook and Google. The right people with the right skills that create a unique workplace help organizations manage their teams to recruit educated and creative people.
Your success as a manager is directly related to how well you lead and connect with your people while developing the right environment for the innovation of products.
What is smart product?
A smart product has different definitions: intelligent product, information appliances or electronic appliances, data processing object, which has several interactive functions
Smart products are often consumer products. The range of users is typically really wide. The price of the single product can’t be too high for end user and the product development life cycle must stay as short as possible, there are always pressures to get the product into market in time.
Nowadays the user interface of consumer smart products is simple enough to enable quick learning times. At the same time there are also smart products for professional users. A lot of companies are trying to make less complex features for the user interface and interaction to be simple enough.
Smart products are often portable. This means the size and the weight of the products is compact and small. Presenting information on the small screen is a challenging task. The number of input control keys are also limited and new navigation techniques have to be designed to enable efficient use of the products.
Taking these factors into consideration, the design of these products can get very complex. Companies have to consider many factors like: Goals, Team, Operations, Workplace, Consumers, Budget, etc…
Identifying great companies is no great feat, they are all around us like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and etc.… Many smart products are being introduced by these brands. As stated in the text, Management: Eleventh Canadian Edition, today organizations are becoming more open, flexible, and responsive to changes (Robbins, Coulter, Leach & Kilfoil, 2012). This means companies in general going toward changing their ways of working to meet the needs of the market and consumer behavior.
Innovation and adaptability
Management innovation involves the introduction of novelty in an established organization and as such it represents a particular form of organizational change (Birkinshaw, Hamel, & Mol, 2008). Nowadays there is a high competition between brands and everyone is trying to create an innovative product and some organizations can’t compete because they first need to start thinking about how they can be innovative in their marketing, recruiting, communicating and etc.… Management functions planning, organizing, leading and controlling (Robbins et al., 2012). These functions should work in conjunction with innovation for creating smart products. Without innovative management, organizations can’t serve the market smart products.
Recently it is becoming increasingly important for managers to build a capacity for adaptability to anticipate new problems, trends and opportunities (Robbins et al., 2012). With adaptability organizations can think how they can be smart and react in the market.
Consumers that respond to smart products are characterized by two different combinations of smartness dimensions. One group of products shows the smartness dimensions of autonomy, adaptability, and reactivity. Another group of smart products are multifunctional and able to sync with other products. Consumer responses to these smart products are measured in terms of the innovation attributes of relative advantage, compatibility, observability, complexity, and perceived risk (Rijsdijk & Hultink, 2009). All of these dimensions need an organizational environment to be great internally and externally. Using the systems view of innovation and adaptability (Robbins et al., 2012) we get from this model that getting the desired outputs (innovative & smart products) involves both, the inputs and the transformation of those inputs. Inputs include creative individuals and also groups within the organization. But a creative team is not always enough. We need creativity at every stage to create a smart product. To know how companies are using innovation, three sets of variables have been identified that stimulate innovation and adaptability: the organization’s structure, culture, and human resources practices (Robbins et al., 2012).
Every company is trying to create a smart product, but few companies realize that an organic structure of the company is very important to create a smart product (Robbins et al., 2012). Most of the creative and innovative companies with an organic model are highly adaptive and flexible. The companies with a strong culture that believe in their own language, stories and symbols hold these key values intensely (Robbins et al., 2012). Last thing for innovation and adaptability is human resources. The best companies are using high-performance work practices that lead to both high induvial and high organizational performance (Robbins et al., 2012).
Another aspect of smart products is entrepreneurship. Original ideas (smart ideas) started with a problem or a need are seen as an opportunity by the entrepreneurs. Using Timmons Model of the entrepreneurial process (Robbins et al., 2012), we find that once someone finds an opportunity which is mostly now a smart product, using resources a creative team is setup to create smart and innovative products or services. This social phenomenon pushes big companies to focus more on smart products not on the price of the product.
Entrepreneurs who created Apple and Amazon have changed the human perception of products and how they think about it. The unique thinking and attitude of these companies has inspired other companies around the world to follow them. Most managers at some point will have to change some things at the work place to work towards making unique products. Organizational change is an alteration of people, structure or technology (Robbins et al., 2012). Managers should start thinking how they can bring about a change in the organization to start creating smart products mixing all these aspects to follow consumer behaviors. Also entrepreneurship and innovation both are associated with doing something new and that managers should start thinking like entrepreneurs.
Organizational management puts a lot of effort into designing an appropriate structure. What that appropriate structure is depends on four contingency variables: the organization’s strategy, size, technology, and degree of environmental uncertainty (Robbins et al., 2012). It is important to think about these variables and how they can change over the life cycle of the organization and managers should consider that this structure is best suited for creating smart products.
Most of the smart companies that make smart products, good communication inside these organizations is very important. They always talk to each other regardless of their management positions. Their communication is diagonal style, which is communication that cuts across both work areas and organizational levels (Robbins et al., 2012). For creating smart product it’s good for efficiency and speed.
Smart products means smart and different thinking. Organizations and managers should thinking about how they can make their communication internally and externally easier for consumers and employees. Everyone should be able to communicate with everyone. That means more delegation of responsibilities and more decision making.
In addition to the direction of communication flow another factor that influences organizational communication and creating smart products is the workplace design. In fact, 74 percent of an employee average workweek is spent in an office (Robbins et al., 2012). Two common design elements have the greatest impact on communication and creativity. First, consider the enclosures and barriers used in the workplace (Robbins et al., 2012). Companies like Google and Skype use open workplaces helping them and their employees to think in a creative and innovative way which in turn helps to create smart products and services.
All employers stand to gain by promoting creativity at work. The most successful businesses are those that engender creative thinking and develop environments where everyone generates ideas, has a voice, asks questions and challenges the norm. Some ideas will stick, some won’t, but what’s certain is you’ll learn a lot from the process along the way (Coleman, 2016). Managers need to ensure that the smaller and generally more open workspaces are useful and contribute to efficient and effective products.
Workplace & Creativity
A part of the organization planning is human resources planning, which is ensuring that the organization has the right number and kinds of capable people in the right places and at the right times (Robbins et al., 2012). Every organization with a creative atmosphere is looking for smart people to create smart products. You can get more from your team if you lead like a captain which is a metaphor for leadership. Leadership skills are very important for managers to get the job done, without leadership behaviors you can’t lead a group of smart and creative people. As stated in the text, leadership in management is the process of influencing induvial or groups toward the achievement of goals (Robbins et al., 2012). This means that when a manager want to lead as an example, production team should keep in mind that they come from different backgrounds, perspectives, and interests, but everybody has something motivating them. Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Physiological, Safety, Social, Esteem, Self-Actualization) (Robbins et al., 2012), It’s important to understand individual needs and how they get motivation for their work. Some people look for training opportunities, promotion salary, facilities etc. career development for creative people is highly important and how an organization can help their team to improve career path with linkage between organization and employee goals This helps organizations to improve the environment of the workplace. Managers with leadership skills will always listen to their teams, creative and smart people always believe that mangers should always be open to discuss things about work. When the leaders and followers share the decision making process, it is called participating (Robbins et al., 2012). The main role of the leader is facilitating and communicating this style. We can see it mostly in creative workplaces as this helps organizations to support induvial and groups sharing ideas and opinions freely for coming up with smart products and services. Effective leaders help their followers get on the right track to achieve their work goals (Robbins et al., 2012). Leaders managing smart people in workplace need to understand how they can help their team to achieve goals on an induvial and an organizational level. There are three major motivations in work based on David McClellan: need for achievement, need for power, and need for affiliation (Robbins et al., 2012). Organizations should start thinking about how they can use these needs to motivate their employees and push them to do better.
Nowadays creative workplace is the best way to create smart products. We can expect more of these products around us because the consumer’s behavior is changing very fast. Organizations in this century are working on how they can approach and recruit creative and educated people because without a creative team you can’t create any unique and different products or services. We can see a lot of organizations are working on human capital management creating plans and ideas about how to stimulate the creativeness of people who work best in an independent environment. Entrepreneurship with leadership behaviors can lead smart and creative people while also maintaining a creative workplace.
With so much at stake for an organisation, it appears glaringly evident that innovation is not a secondary thing. Innovation in today’s world is imperative for an organization’s survival. The best strategy for a creative innovation in an organisation is to not only to plan, but also the implement and experiment with the plans. Innovation is evolving every day, a new idea today can get outdated if not acted upon. Thus the organizations need to nurture a creative and motivated environment for their employees to realize their true talent.
- Robbins, S.P, Coulter, M., Leach, E., Kilfoil, M. (2012). Management: Eleventh Canadian Edition. Toronto: Pearson.
- Rijsdijk, S. A., & Hultink, E. J. (2009). How today’s consumers perceive tomorrow’s smart products *. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 26(1), 24–42.
- Birkinshaw, J., Hamel, G., & Mol, M. (2008). Management Innovation. The Academy of Management Review, 33(4), 825-845.
- Coleman, A. (2016, February 11). Is Google’s model of the creative workplace the future of the office? The Guardian.