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We have some product teams for improving/maintaining the current line of products; but there are also "innovation teams" which try to plan/shape/design the next-generation products. The former teams usually look at short-term goals (small improvements, time frames between few days and few months) while the latter teams do long-term research and development (years?).

My fear is that the short-term improvements will be superseded by the long-term overhauls made by the innovation team; ie. the manpower put into short-term improvements must actually pay off before the next-gen product is out... I think this heavily limits what tasks the short-term teams can start, and I'd like to change that. So is it possible to direct both teams in a way that short-term improvements are not lost? Or is that not generally impossible, and we should try harder to keep the short-term tasks really short?

Related questions:

  • is there existing research on this topic? Under which terms would I find this research?
  • should short-term teams and innovation teams work closely together (to improve idea flow in both directions, or to improve idea flow in a specific direction), or should they be separated (to avoid disrupting the teams with useless information)?
3

I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. Why would the long-term innovations limit the short-term improvement? If anything, I would think that the short-term improvements would be influencing the longer term.

Think of it as an operating system - MS or Apple release a new OS (innovation), and then continually release updates (small improvements) until the next version. That next version will not only (hopefully) innovate, but it will include all of those updates that were seen as valuable and necessary.

To answer your second question - the teams should definitely be communicating and working together. For an example (warning?) of what happens when they don't, look at Microsoft and how they sometimes end up with redundant or competing offerings, primarily because one side didn't know what the other was doing until release.

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There is a fair bit of research on the topic of Software Release Management that can help.

  • Hi Mark, can you elaborate on that with some more details? – jmort253 May 5 '12 at 0:44
  • @jmort253 I was responding to the question of "is there existing research on the topic." There is. It is generally found under Software Release Management. – Mark Phillips May 7 '12 at 12:31

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