How Punctuation Facilitates Reflection and Decisions in the Fuzzy Front End of Radical Innovation

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


This research presents observations of the fuzzy front end of innovation processes and how critical situations are punctuated to facilitate radical innovation. Punctuation describes points at which participants and the involved organization(s) reflect on the situation, consider alternatives, expand theory, perform experimentation and make decisions regarding future direction.
The analysis finds that prototyping within the FFE process acquires a new function: rather than being an evaluative tool, it becomes a punctuation device, a vehicle for creating new options, because it makes it possible to stop ongoing streams of activity, expand others, and reflect and explore, dispelling options and setting new boundaries. This is in contrast with much existing theory, which describes prototyping in the fussy front end as risk reducing. The process of punctuation is analysed in two example cases from the high technology industry and shows how punctuation allows participants to be 2 re-aligned following the expansion of initial considerations around products. Punctuation thus plays an important role to facilitate and coordinate in a fluid and emerging process.
The notion of punctuation is presented as relevant for understanding the fuzzy front end and has implications for the management of such processes. The concept of punctuations is novel in this field of fuzzy front end but could be considered to be a useful concept to facilitate the fuzzy front end for radical products as illustrated and as it is in other fields. The cases reinforce how the fuzzy front end is less coordinated than traditional planning and control approaches, but are coordinated through events that emerge out of
punctuation situations. The findings demonstrate how punctuation plays a critical role in the example cases and help to understand the fuzzy front end as an emerging uncertain phenomenon. This recognition calls for management approaches that facilitate theoretical expansion rather than continuous reduction.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2018
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventThe 25th Innovation and Product Development Management Conference. IPDMC 2018 - Porto, Portugal
Duration: 10 Jun 201814 Jun 2018


ConferenceThe 25th Innovation and Product Development Management Conference. IPDMC 2018
Internet address

Cite this