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Since they have these kinds of innovative products, the product development teams at Skullcandy tend to show a combination of the facts which are included in all the team structures such as Lightweight, Heavyweight and Autonomous except the Functional structure.
Lightweight team structure
Skullcandy has a Product Manager whom can be considered similar to the Project manager. He has low power that he is responsible for coordinating team members and making sure of meeting deadlines. According to this structure, the Product manager acts as a middle level manager because every major decision to be taken is passed up to the top level for approval. And also in this structure, team members at Skullcandy report to the functional manager.
“We’ll develop the initial idea, and then bring it to one of our trusted industrial design firms to do the renderings.” This suggests that Skullcandy has firms or people working temporarily taken from outside to finish up certain portions of the work. (Schilling, 2009)
Heavyweight team structure
According to this structure we can assume that the Product Manager has a high power because he manages all the project milestones and even has the authority to communicate directly to the factory in China where the product is manufactured. So this suggests that Product manager acts like a senior manager of the company.
The length of commitment of team members to the team is long-term and ultimately temporary regarding the staff working for portions of work because the case says that each year board of directors would set an overarching stretch target for revenues to be achieved with full time and temporary workers spending 100% time on the activities.
As the Product manager is responsible for coordinating all the team members, it can be considered the all the team members are collocated with the Product manager within this structure. Because of this, the opportunity or the degree of cross functional integration in teams at Skullcandy is high.
“The small size and informal atmosphere at Skullcandy ensured close contact between the team members, and between the team and other Skullcandy personnel”
According to this structure team members are evaluated by both functional heads and the product manager where each employee is rewarded for their performance through recognition at monthly Skullcouncil meetings. (Schilling, 2009)
Autonomous team structure
According to this structure, Skullcandy is practicing their own procedures and reward systems that are different from other firms.
Examples from case study for different procedures,
“The team initially met for three straight days in Mix Master Mike’s studio. Then after the team had created 6 to 12 initial sketches, they worked to narrow the list down to three of the best and then fine-tuned those until they had one best sketch”
“SLA versions of the products were also often taken to the trade shows to solicit customer feedback and generate orders”
Examples for different reward systems,
“Team members did not receive financial rewards from individual projects; instead, their performance was rewarded through recognition at monthly Skullcouncil meetings and through quarterly one touch reviews”
“These reviews would be used to provide feedback to the employee and to determine the annual bonus” (Schilling, 2009)
So finally what we can say is that even Skullcandy had used all three structures collaborative to build up the new product development team, it is more in to Heavyweight Team Structure where many of its characteristics are implemented successfully.
Summary of the team structures used in Skullcandy
Power of project manager
Time spent on team activities
Location of team members
Collocated with product manager
Collocated with product manager
Length of commitment to team
Long term but ultimately temporary
Evaluation of team members
Product manager & Functional heads
Potential for conflict between team and functions
Degree of cross functional integration
Degree of fit with the existing organizational practices
Sources of innovation
Basically firms become a source of innovation through their regularly performed research and development process. In that case they expose their selves to the society, country, the world or any certain area to understand different kinds of facts, topics or fields with or without any specific needs. Then their knowledge is used to create new and useful devices, physical items or processes that will fulfill the foreseen needs and wants. Now days, firms are inspired for innovations under two major approaches which are science push and demand pull.
Science push – this approach means that science discoveries act as the foundation for new inventions, to engineering and for manufacturing and finally marketing.
Demand pull – this suggests that all of the innovations are inspired by needs and wants of the people.
Apple, Facebook, Google are the world’s first three firms that has been identified as the innovative companies for their innovations of walking the talk, 800 million reasons to share and expanding the hit lineup by Google. (Fast Company, 2013)
These days university is place where new innovations pop up frequently to the world because the university students are determined and facilitated to carry out researches. Students are further encouraged by sharing the income of successfully commercialized innovations. Due to the innovations that come up from universities, it has been made easier by establishing technology transfer offices which provides proper environments where research and development can be performed better.
University of Washington collaborated to build a set of seven advanced robotic surgery system. (Santa Cruz News Center, 2012)
Government Funded Research –
In here, the government takes the priority for innovations by providing necessary funds and facilities such as science parks and incubators to other public and private research organizations.
Private nonprofit organizations –
There are organizations that acts as a source of innovation by funding other organizations to do their research and development programs. Some of the nonprofit organizations do not involve themselves on those researches other than funding while many tend to do researches.
Innovation by individuals can be appeared in two ways such as by an inventor and a user. Inventors are more interested on problems than solutions where they act more curiously to find solutions globally rather than locally. Few such inventors are Graham Bell, Thomas Edison and Karl Benz. Sometimes few new innovations are commercialized due to the lack of resources or failures in marketing the product.
A user on the other hand tends to find solutions for their own problems and needs as they have a thorough understanding of their needs. And those solutions will be for their own usage.
Sources of innovations important for Skullcandy
Skullcandy Company was raised with the idea of an individual or an inventor, Rick Alden to build a headphone which can be connected both a cell phone and an MP3 player. So this could help the Skullcandy to come up with new individual innovative ideas within the company there after too which will improve their product qualities or give product diversification.
The Skullcrusher and the Ultimate DJ headphone were innovations resulted from end users who were Snoop Dogg and Mix Master Mike. Headphones were designed according to their preference and needs. So having this source would encourage more new end user innovations in the future too.
Firm in the sense, they must give more chance for research and development because when they do research for new technologies and when they are got to known by the people, it will be easier for Skullcandy to commercialize their new innovative products in the market. And also Skullcandy must retain better linkages with customers, suppliers and even complementors to identify and react to the sudden change of needs and wants of the customer especially because, Skullcandy is producing customized products to the markets. If not their innovations would be failures in the market.
Even though Skullcandy has reached to a better position using their innovative products, they must increase the source of innovation in individuals and the firm as it brings new ideas to the company where they can diversify their company in innovations. And if they still hope to go with the same product line, they must try to develop and increase the attractiveness of the headphones where Dr. Dre’s Beats are ahead of it in the first look by attractiveness and diversification.
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