Eight companies that were Process Effectiveness Network members of the Industrial Research Institute attempted to collectively determine the best practices of the Fuzzy Front End (FFE) of innovation. Comparing one company's processes to those of another proved insurmountable because there was neither a common language nor clear and consistent definition of the key elements of the front end. As a result, the group developed a theoretical construct, defined as the New Concept Development (NCD) model, in order to provide a common language and insights on the front end activities. The model consists of three key parts: five front end elements, the engine that powers the elements, and external influencing factors. Proficiency of the FFE was evaluated at 19 companies by using the NCD model. Highly innovative companies were found to be more proficient in the FFE and in several elements of the NCD model.
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