Stefan H. Thomke

William Barclay Harding Professor of Business Administration

Unit: Technology and Operations Management

Contact:

(617) 495-6569

Send Email

Stefan Thomke, an authority on the management of innovation, is the William Barclay Harding Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He has worked with US, European and Asian firms on product, process, and technology development, organizational design and change, and strategy.

Since joining the Harvard faculty in 1995, Professor Thomke has taught and chaired numerous MBA and executive courses on innovation management, R&D strategy, product & service development, and operations, both at Harvard Business School and in individual company programs in the United States and abroad. He is chair of the Executive Education Programs Leading Product Innovation and Driving Growth Through Innovation, which helps business leaders in revamping their innovation systems for greater competitive advantage, and is faculty chair of HBS executive education in India. Professor Thomke is currently on the core faculty of the General Management Program (GMP) and has previously taught in the Advanced Management Program (AMP). Previously, he was faculty chair of the MBA Required Curriculum and faculty co-chair of the doctoral program in Science, Technology and Management (S,T&M). He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Apgar Award for Innovation in Teaching at HBS.

Professor Thomke's research and writings have focused primarily on the process, economics, and management of business experimentation in innovation. He is a widely published author with more than three dozen articles, cases and notes published in books and leading journals such as California Management Review, Harvard Business Review, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Management Science, Organization Science, Research Policy, Sloan Management Review, Strategic Management Journal and Scientific American. He is also author of the books Experimentation Matters: Unlocking the Potential of New Technologies for Innovation (Harvard Business School Press, 2003) and Managing Product and Service Development (McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2006).

Professor Thomke was born and grew up in Calw, Germany. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering, a S.M. degree in Operations Research, a S.M. degree in Management from the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering and Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he was awarded a Lemelson-MIT doctoral fellowship for invention and innovation research. Prior to joining the Harvard University faculty, he worked in electronics and semiconductor manufacturing and later was with McKinsey & Company in Germany where he served clients in the automotive and energy industries.

Contact information: Harvard Business School, Soldiers Field, Morgan Hall 489, Boston, MA 02163 (U.S.A.); Telephone: +1 (617) 495-6569; Fax: +1 (617) 496-4059, E-mail: t@hbs.edu

Featured Work

Publications

Journal Articles

  1. The Magic of Innovation

    Why do certain product and service experiences seem to have that undeniable "wow" factor, while others disappoint customers? Perhaps there's no better place to turn to than the world of magic. Consider that leading magicians are constantly under pressure to come up with new "effects" that wow audiences. They have to innovate frequently and rely on a systematic way of doing so.

    Keywords: innovation management; Innovation and Management;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan, and Jason Randal. "The Magic of Innovation." European Business Review (May–June 2014): 2–6. View Details
  2. Unlocking Innovation Through Business Experimentation

    There is a downside to businesses that focus heavily on standardization, optimization, and driving out variability: Such organizations leave themselves vulnerable to underinvesting in experimentation and variation, which are the lifeblood of innovation. Good experimentation helps firms better manage myriad sources of uncertainty (such as, does the product work as intended and does it address actual customer needs?) when past experience can be limiting. And it is only through such experimentation, which might include structured cause-and-effect tests, informal trial-and-error experiments, and rigorous randomized field trials, that companies can unlock their true capacity for innovation.

    Keywords: experimentation; innovation management; learning and development; Research; Innovation and Management; Business Processes;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan. "Unlocking Innovation Through Business Experimentation." European Business Review (March–April 2013): 55–58. View Details
  3. Strategic Assets, Interdependence and Technological Change: An Empirical Investigation of Complementarity in Pharmaceutical Drug Discovery

    Keywords: Strategy; Assets; Technology; Change; Information; Health; Pharmaceutical Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomke, S., and W. Kuemmerle. "Strategic Assets, Interdependence and Technological Change: An Empirical Investigation of Complementarity in Pharmaceutical Drug Discovery." Academy of Management Proceedings and Membership Directory (August 2000). View Details
  4. The Effect of 'Front-Loading' Problem-Solving on Product Development Performance

    Keywords: Product; Research and Development; Performance;

    Citation:

    Thomke, S., and T. Fujimoto. "The Effect of 'Front-Loading' Problem-Solving on Product Development Performance." Journal of Product Innovation Management (March 2000): 1999–2000. (Winner of Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing Research presented by Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.) View Details
  5. Creating Breakthroughs at 3M

    Keywords: Business Conglomerates; Consumer Products Industry;

    Citation:

    Von Hippel, E., S. Thomke, and M. Sonnack. "Creating Breakthroughs at 3M." Harvard Business Review 77, no. 5 (September–October 1999). (Reprinted in Health Forum Journal (July/August 2000). Also reprinted in Harvard Business Review on Innovation. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2001.) View Details
  6. The Crash in the Machine

    Citation:

    Thomke, S., M. Holzner, and T. Gholami. "The Crash in the Machine." Scientific American (March 1999): 92–97. (Translated and reprinted in: Investigación y Ciencia (Spain, May 1999), Ke Xue (China, June 1999), Le Scienze (Italy, May 1999), Nikkei Science (Japan, June 1999), Scientific American Hellas SA (Greece, April 1999), Spektrum der Wissenschaft (Germany, September 1999), and Swiat Nauki (Poland, May 1999)) View Details
  7. Agile Product Development: Managing Development Flexibility in Uncertain Environments

    Keywords: Research and Development; Product; Management; Risk and Uncertainty;

    Citation:

    Thomke, S., and D. Reinersten. "Agile Product Development: Managing Development Flexibility in Uncertain Environments." California Management Review 40, no. 1 (fall 1998): 8–30. (Translated into German and reprinted in Harvard Business Manager (May 1999). Also reprinted in Engineering Management Review 28, no. 1 (2000), special issue on Strategy and New Product Design.) View Details

Book Chapters

  1. The Impact of Technology on Knowledge Creation: A Study of Experimentation in Integrated Circuit Design

    Keywords: Technological Innovation; Creativity; Knowledge Acquisition; Machinery and Machining; Technology Industry; Electronics Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomke, S. "The Impact of Technology on Knowledge Creation: A Study of Experimentation in Integrated Circuit Design." In Knowledge Emergence: Social, Technical, and Evolutionary Dimensions of Knowledge Creation, edited by Ikujiro Nonaka and Toshihiro Nishiguchi. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. View Details
  2. Note on New Drug Development in the United States

    Keywords: Product Development; Pharmaceutical Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Thomke, S., and A. Nimgade. "Note on New Drug Development in the United States." In Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation. 2nd ed. by R. Burgelman, M. A. Maidique, and S. C. Wheelwright. Burr Ridge, IL: Irwin/McGraw-Hill, 1996. View Details
  3. Product Development at Dell Computer Corporation

    Keywords: Product Development; Technology; Computer Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomke, S., V. Krishnan, and A. Nimgade. "Product Development at Dell Computer Corporation." In Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation. 2nd ed. by R. Burgelman, M. A. Maidique, and S. C. Wheelwright. Burr Ridge, IL: Irwin/McGraw-Hill, 1996. View Details
  4. Eli Lilly and Company: Drug Development Strategy

    Keywords: Product Development; Corporate Strategy; Pharmaceutical Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomke, S., A. Nimgade, and P. Pospisil. "Eli Lilly and Company: Drug Development Strategy." In Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation. 2nd ed. by R. Burgelman, M. A. Maidique, and S. C. Wheelwright. Burr Ridge, IL: Irwin/McGraw-Hill, 1996. View Details
  5. The Changing Economics of Problem-Solving: Some Implications for Innovation and Competitiveness

    Keywords: Problems and Challenges; Economics; Innovation and Invention; Competition;

    Citation:

    Thomke, S. "The Changing Economics of Problem-Solving: Some Implications for Innovation and Competitiveness." In Innovationsforschung und Technologiemanagement, edited by N. Franke and C. F. von Braun. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1998. View Details

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. LEGO (A): The Crisis

    As this case opens, iconic toymaker LEGO stands on the brink of bankruptcy. Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, LEGO's young and newly appointed CEO, must size up changes in the toy industry, learn from the company's recent moves, and craft a strategy that will put LEGO back on track.

    Keywords: Organizational Change and Adaptation; Change Management; Competitive Strategy; Crisis Management; Insolvency and Bankruptcy; Consumer Products Industry;

    Citation:

    Rivkin, Jan W., Stefan H. Thomke, and Daniela Beyersdorfer. "LEGO (A): The Crisis." Harvard Business School Case 713-478, February 2013. View Details
  2. The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time

    The Mumbai-based dabbawalas are a 5,000 or so person organization that achieves exceptional service performance with a semi-literate workforce. Every working day, they deliver and return about 130,000 lunchboxes to offices throughout Mumbai. This entails more than 260,000 transactions within six hours each day, six days a week, 52 weeks a year (minus holidays) and mistakes are extremely rare. The case explores all aspects of their system (mission, information management, material flows, human resource system, processes, etc.) and the challenges that the dabbawala organization faces in a rapidly changing environment.

    Keywords: systems design; organization design; service; Mumbai; India;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H. "The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 613-062, October 2012. (Revised September 2013.) View Details
  3. LEGO

    LEGO has emerged as one of the most successful companies in the toy industry. The case describes LEGO's gradual rise, rapid decline, and recent revitalization as it is keeping up with a changing market place. Central to LEGO's management model is the ability to find the right balance among growing through innovation, staying true to its core, and controlling operational complexity.

    Keywords: competitive strategy; innovation management; innovation; operations management; organizational change and transformation; Operations; Competitive Strategy; Innovation and Management; Innovation Strategy; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Entertainment and Recreation Industry;

    Citation:

    Rivkin, Jan W., Stefan Thomke, and Daniela Beyersdorfer. "LEGO." Harvard Business School Case 613-004, July 2012. View Details
  4. Innovation Magic

    Why do certain product and service experiences seem like magic, making them all but destined for success, while other items languish on store shelves? For a better understanding of that, perhaps there's no better place to turn to than the world of magic. Consider that some professional magicians are constantly under pressure to come up with new "effects" that will wow the audience and ultimately result in a transformational customer experience. As such, these magicians can't just be innovative on a whim; they must have a systematic way of doing so on a regular basis. The note provides some practical insights into a process of creation that is common to both the "tricks" that awe a spellbound audience and what companies need to do to give customers unforgettable product and service experiences.

    Keywords: innovation; creativity; product differentiation; experimentation; Personal strategy & style; Innovation and Invention; Creativity; Service Operations; Product; Customer Satisfaction;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan, and Jason Randal. "Innovation Magic." Harvard Business School Background Note 612-099, May 2012. View Details
  5. Design Thinking and Innovation at Apple

    Describes Apple's approach to innovation, management, and design thinking. For several years, Apple has been ranked as the most innovative company in the world, but how it has achieved such success remains mysterious because of the company's obsession with secrecy. This note considers the ingredients of Apple's success and its quest to develop, in the words of CEO Steve Jobs, insanely great products. Focuses on 1) design thinking, 2) product development strategy and execution, 3) CEO as chief innovator, and 4) bold business experimentation.

    Keywords: Design; Corporate Entrepreneurship; Innovation and Management; Product Design; Product Development; Research and Development; Creativity; Technology Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., and Barbara Feinberg. "Design Thinking and Innovation at Apple." Harvard Business School Case 609-066, January 2009. (Revised May 2012.) View Details
  6. The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time

    Describes the Mumbai-based Dabbawala organization, which achieves very high service performance (6 Sigma equivalent or better) with a low-cost and very simple operating system. The case explores all aspects of their system (mission, information management, material flows, human resource system, processes, etc.) and the challenges that the Dabbawala organization faces in a rapidly changing environment. An outside consultant proposes the introduction of new technologies and management systems, while the leading logistics companies (e.g., FedEx) come to Mumbai to learn about the Dabbawala system.

    Keywords: Technology; Service Operations; Service Delivery; Logistics; Alignment; Management Systems; Human Resources; Innovation and Invention; Mumbai;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., and Mona Sinha. "The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time." Harvard Business School Case 610-059, February 2010. (Revised January 2013.) View Details
  7. Dassault Systemes

    Dassault Systèmes, a leader in product lifecycle management software, has enjoyed a very profitable business model in 3D engineering design. In the past, it has successfully managed market disruptions and opportunities through acquisition and organic innovations. Its latest brands, 3DVIA, offers 3D models and lifelike experiences to a new non-professional client category, the consumer. In November 2009, President and CEO Bernard Charlès has to decide how to best address this new market segment, characterized by rapidly expanding open communities and new pricing models. What is the right business model for the new brand, and how will it affect the future of Dassault Systèmes?

    Keywords: Business Model; Innovation and Invention; Product Development; Product Marketing; Technology Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., and Daniela Beyersdorfer. "Dassault Systemes." Harvard Business School Case 610-080, March 2010. (Revised June 2010.) View Details
  8. Bush Boake Allen

    Bush Boake Allen, a flavor and fragrance firm, is considering strategic options that would integrate customers into its innovation process via a potentially disruptive Internet-based technology. As this approach could result in dramatic changes to the firm's business model and relationship with customers worldwide, Julian Boyden, president, CEO, and chairman, faces serious opposition from senior managers.

    Keywords: Customer Focus and Relationships; Disruptive Innovation; Technological Innovation; Management Teams; Product Design; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Conflict Management; Internet; Chemical Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., and Ashok Nimgade. "Bush Boake Allen." Harvard Business School Case 601-061, November 2000. (Revised June 2010.) View Details
  9. Innovation at Mahindra & Mahindra (A)

    Describes the Mahindra & Mahindra Group's approach to innovation. The Group is among the top industrial houses in India and its managing director Anand Mahindra has put innovation at the core of its growth strategy. Emphasis is placed on managing the balance between structured processes and the creation of an environment in which radical innovations can succeed. The Farm Equipment Sector, one of the Group's largest and most successful sectors, is developing a revolutionary tractor outside its conventional development process with the help of a "Maverick" innovator. Not surprisingly, the project encounters numerous obstacles and setbacks. Focuses on: 1) the role of creative innovators in breakthrough innovations; 2) the need for process, structure and early feedback from markets; 3) the sources of radical product concepts; and 4) the marketing of innovations.

    Keywords: Innovation and Management; Growth and Development Strategy; Problems and Challenges; Marketing; Business Processes; Product; Innovation Strategy; Organizational Design; Demand and Consumers; Auto Industry; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; India;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., and Briana Doerr Luthra. "Innovation at Mahindra & Mahindra (A)." Harvard Business School Case 609-065, January 2009. (Revised May 2009.) View Details
  10. Pfizer Inc: Building an Innovation Center

    The case describes Pfizer's efforts to build and run an innovation center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As the center goes through different periods of leadership and strategic models, its relationship with the corporation and other research sites is explored. The case study describes in detail the challenges of building an innovation center within a large corporation, including organization, incentives, and scientific issues.

    Keywords: Innovation and Management; Innovation Strategy; Leadership; Organizational Culture; Research and Development; Pharmaceutical Industry; Cambridge;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., and Ashok Nimgade. "Pfizer Inc: Building an Innovation Center." Harvard Business School Case 609-037, September 2008. View Details
  11. IDEO Product Development

    Describes IDEO, the world's leading product design firm, and its innovation culture and process. Emphasis is placed on the important role of prototyping and experimentation in general, and in the design of the very successful Palm V handheld computer in particular. A studio leader is asked by a business start-up (Handspring) to develop a novel hand-held computer (Visor) in less than half the time it took to develop the Palm V, requiring several shortcuts to IDEO's legendary innovation process. Focuses on: 1) prototyping and experimentation practices at a leading product developer; 2) the role of playfulness, discipline, and structure in innovation processes; and 3) the managerial challenges of creating and managing an unusually creative and innovative company culture. Includes color exhibits.

    Keywords: Business Startups; Innovation Strategy; Business or Company Management; Time Management; Product Design; Product Development; Business Processes; Organizational Culture; Practice; Problems and Challenges; Creativity; Hardware;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., and Ashok Nimgade. "IDEO Product Development." Harvard Business School Case 600-143, June 2000. (Revised April 2007.) View Details
  12. Eli Lilly and Company: Drug Development Strategy (A)

    Describes how Eli Lilly and Co. tries to accelerate its new drug development process with the aid of "combinatorial chemistry"--a rapidly emerging and revolutionary approach to preclinical drug discovery. The product manager of a potential blockbuster migraine drug faces the decision of "racing" the drug to market or spending additional time to refine an already promising drug candidate. Focuses on: (1) the new drug development process with an emphasis on pre-clinical drug discovery; (2) radical innovations ("combinatorial chemistry") in the drug discovery process; (3) the managerial challenges of introducing such innovations into a large organization with multiple stakeholders; (4) the financial value of time-to-market; and (5) the changing competitive environment in the pharmaceutical industry.

    Keywords: Chemicals; Finance; Innovation and Invention; Time Management; Markets; Product Development; Organizations; Business Processes; Problems and Challenges; Business and Stakeholder Relations; Competition; Pharmaceutical Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., Ashok Nimgade, and Paul Pospisil. "Eli Lilly and Company: Drug Development Strategy (A)." Harvard Business School Case 698-010, October 1997. (Revised September 2003.) View Details
  13. Managing Product Development

    Introduces students to the managerial aspects critical to conceiving, designing, and developing innovative products and services. Considers the full range of activities required: learning about customer needs, understanding and managing experimentation and problem solving, product development process design and improvement, and development strategy and project management. The issues cut across functional boundaries, examining problems in areas ranging from design to marketing and from manufacturing to strategy. The focus is on the managerial skills and capabilities needed for effective practice; it does not require training or experience in a technical field. Integral is a realistic product or service development project in which students, in teams, learn by doing. The course is divided into three modules: the first two are closely linked to research and the third addresses the increasing importance of networks in the development of new products and services. The curriculum design and pedagogy emphasize integration.

    Keywords: Product Design; Product Development; Service Operations; Business or Company Management; Projects; Management Practices and Processes; Experience and Expertise; Customers; Research; Management Skills; Integration;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H. "Managing Product Development." Harvard Business School Module Note 603-088, May 2003. View Details
  14. Building Capabilities for Experimentation, Learning, and Prototyping

    Describes the conceptual foundations and pedagogy for a module on managing experimentation, learning, and prototyping in the development of products and services. Can also be used as part of a more general course on Managing Technology and Innovation. Shows how development activities should be structured, organized, and led such that they fully leverage the power of experimentation. Addresses many issues that students need to understand to manage experimentation activities successfully, ranging from structured experimentation to managing experimentation processes under technological change. No prior technical training is needed. involved. Students with technical backgrounds will find the material enriching.

    Keywords: Service Delivery; Product Development; Learning; Technological Innovation; Technology; Management;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H. "Building Capabilities for Experimentation, Learning, and Prototyping." Harvard Business School Module Note 603-089, May 2003. View Details
  15. Product Development Process Design and Improvement

    Describes the conceptual foundations and pedagogy for a module on the design and improvement of processes for the development of products and services. Can also be used as part of a more general course on Managing Technology and Innovation. Central to Managing Product Development and emphasized particularly is the premise that every company's ability to develop new products and services depends on a process of experimentation and learning. Investigates the core aspects of such development processes and presents the new technologies dedicated to improving experimentation. Simply knowing what users will want--which is not simple in itself--is not enough. The product development process, including its ability to carry out experimentation successfully, must be designed (and improved) to accommodate customer information. A pivotal component, introduced in the first module, is how experimentation is being transformed by new technologies that can enhance its potential for innovation.

    Keywords: Product Development; Design; Performance Improvement; Innovation and Management; Technology; Customers; Information Management; Business Processes; Learning; Transformation; Service Operations;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H. "Product Development Process Design and Improvement." Harvard Business School Module Note 603-090, May 2003. View Details
  16. Managing Development Networks

    Describes the concepts and pedagogy for a module on understanding and managing product development networks between firms and within firms and among products themselves. Introduces students to the increasingly important role of networks in the development of new products and services. R&D teams rarely work in isolation; their success in great part depends on how they manage interdependencies with other teams, departments, or companies among which development work is distributed. Addresses important issues in the design and management of such networks.

    Keywords: Product Development; Resource Allocation; Research and Development; Networks; Design; Groups and Teams;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H. "Managing Development Networks." Harvard Business School Module Note 603-091, May 2003. View Details
  17. Bush Boake Allen (TN)

    Teaching Note for (9-601-061).

    Keywords: Integration; Marketing Reference Programs; Disruptive Innovation; Management Teams; Internet; Business Model; Customer Relationship Management; Management Practices and Processes; Consumer Products Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H. "Bush Boake Allen (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 603-115, February 2003. View Details
  18. Bank of America (A)

    Describes how Bank of America is creating a system for product and service innovation in its retail banking business. Emphasis is placed on the role of experimentation in some two-dozen real-life "laboratories" that serve as fully operating banking branches and as sites for testing new ideas and concepts. Focuses on: 1) how learning from experimentation can be maximized; 2) incentive and reward systems that motivate employees to experiment in "life" environments; and 3) the challenges of managing innovation in an industry that eschews risks, failure, and change.

    Keywords: Motivation and Incentives; Problems and Challenges; Innovation and Management; Risk and Uncertainty; Change; Failure; Banks and Banking; Learning; Banking Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., and Ashok Nimgade. "Bank of America (A)." Harvard Business School Case 603-022, September 2002. (Revised October 2002.) View Details
  19. Innovation at 3M Corporation (A)

    Describes how 3M Corp. introduces and learns a new and innovative methodology called Lead User research to understand future customer and market needs. A team from 3M's Medical-Surgical Markets Division applies the Lead User methodology to the field of surgical infection control and discovers not only new product concepts but also a very promising new business strategy. Focuses on: (1) 3M's approach to the management of innovation and understanding market needs, (2) an in-depth description of the Lead User method and its potential as applied to the medical business, and (3) the managerial challenges of introducing novel methods into a successful organization.

    Keywords: Innovation and Management; Innovation Strategy; Managerial Roles; Marketing Strategy; Demand and Consumers; Market Timing; Product Development; Problems and Challenges; Business Strategy; Medical Devices and Supplies Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., and Ashok Nimgade. "Innovation at 3M Corporation (A)." Harvard Business School Case 699-012, August 1998. (Revised July 2002.) View Details
  20. Siemens AG: Global Development Strategy (A)

    Describes how Siemens, the German electrical engineering giant, has developed and manages global R&D in its large Information and Communications Networks (ICN) division. In 1994, Siemens opened its Bangalore (India) center, which has now grown into one of its largest regional development centers outside Germany. With Bangalore asking for increased resource independence and managerial autonomy, senior management has to decide how the activities in India fit into its global development strategy. This tension is played out in a large software project led by Bangalore developers in which an increase in project autonomy also results in serious technical problems for Siemens in the quality-driven telecommunications equipment industry.

    Keywords: Global Strategy; Research and Development; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Product Development; Telecommunications Industry; Germany; Bangalore;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., and Ashok Nimgade. "Siemens AG: Global Development Strategy (A)." Harvard Business School Case 602-061, October 2001. (Revised March 2002.) View Details
  21. Siemens AG: Global Development Strategy (B)

    Supplements the (A) case.

    Keywords: Global Strategy; Research and Development; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Product Development; Telecommunications Industry; Germany; Bangalore;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., and Ashok Nimgade. "Siemens AG: Global Development Strategy (B)." Harvard Business School Case 602-062, October 2001. (Revised January 2002.) View Details
  22. BMW AG: The Digital Car Project (A)

    Describes how the German automotive firm BMW is trying to reduce its development time by half with the aid of computer-aided technologies. To leverage these technologies fully in the very competitive automotive industry, BMW is faced with the challenge of changing its processes and organization, gradually building new development capabilities. This tension between the old and the new is played out in BMW's design area, which has historically been responsible for much of BMW's strategic product positioning. Focuses on: 1) managing automotive development, with an emphasis on exterior styling; 2) new computer-aided technologies and their potential impact on development performance; and 3) the organizational and process changes required to gradually build a firm's development capability.

    Keywords: Change; Competency and Skills; Management; Time Management; Product Positioning; Product Development; Business Processes; Performance; Problems and Challenges; Technology; Auto Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., and Ashok Nimgade. "BMW AG: The Digital Car Project (A)." Harvard Business School Case 699-044, November 1998. (Revised November 2001.) View Details
  23. BMW AG: The Digital Auto Project-An Interview With Chris Bangle, Head of Global Design

    Chris Bangle describes how BMW is trying to reduce its development time by half with the aid of computer-aided technologies. To leverage these technologies in the very competitive automotive industry, he talks about how BMW is faced with the challenges of changing its processes and organization and to gradually building new development capabilities.

    Keywords: Interpersonal Communication; Management Practices and Processes; Time Management; Product Development; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Problems and Challenges; Competition; Information Technology; Auto Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H. "BMW AG: The Digital Auto Project-An Interview With Chris Bangle, Head of Global Design." Harvard Business School Video Supplement 602-802, October 2001. View Details
  24. Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (A)

    Focuses on Millennium's strategy to grow and revolutionize drug development through the use of new technologies such as genomics. Describes how Millennium Pharmaceuticals--a fast-growing biotechnology firm in Cambridge, MA--has used strategic alliances to finance the development of technology platforms based on the latest breakthroughs in genomics. As the firm considers developing pharmaceutical drugs itself, they face a number of challenges: 1) Can they revolutionize drug development by making it more predictable, faster, and less costly? 2) How should they select their alliances such that they move closer to becoming a pharmaceutical firm and still attract the funding needed for their strategy? 3) How can they continue to grow rapidly and attract and retain some of the best minds in the pharmaceutical industry?

    Keywords: Cost Management; Financing and Loans; Medical Specialties; Retention; Growth and Development Strategy; Time Management; Product Development; Problems and Challenges; Alliances; Technology; Biotechnology Industry; Pharmaceutical Industry; Cambridge;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., and Ashok Nimgade. "Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (A)." Harvard Business School Case 600-038, December 1999. (Revised August 2001.) View Details
  25. Developing Products on Internet Time: A Process Design Exercise

    This team exercise allows students to experience some of the dynamics of developing products in the fast-paced Internet environment and was inspired by the browser war between Netscape and Microsoft. Designed to be taught in a single class session, the exercise introduces various sources of uncertainty (e.g., various press releases, different team sizes) that make the task of designing a development process particularly challenging. Student teams have to make decisions on organization, features, milestones, testing, and integration in a period of about 30 minutes and present their results to the rest of the class.

    Keywords: Product Development; Internet; Problems and Challenges; Risk and Uncertainty; Design; Decisions; Management Practices and Processes; Integration; Organizations; Competition;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H. "Developing Products on Internet Time: A Process Design Exercise." Harvard Business School Exercise 600-121, March 2000. View Details
  26. Project Dreamcast: Serious Play at Sega Enterprises Ltd. (A)

    Focuses on the ongoing competitive battles in the global home video game market that is estimated to exceed $15 billion by 1999 in the United States and Japan alone. Describes how Sega Enterprises has redesigned its development processes to create a revolutionary 128-bit video game console (named Dreamcast). Having lost its leading position in an accelerating market to Sony's Playstation console, Sega is trying to reclaim its former position through an aggressive entry strategy in the Japanese market. Integral to this strategy is the ability to bring its Dreamcast console to market rapidly and to manage its relationships with independent game developers. Focuses on: 1) hardware and game software development, 2) the role of market share in an environment of increasing economic returns, and 3) the dynamics of market entry strategies as a function of development capabilities and competitive responses.

    Keywords: Games, Gaming, and Gambling; Competitive Strategy; Technological Innovation; Growth and Development Strategy; Partners and Partnerships; Product Development; Business Growth and Maturation; Market Entry and Exit; Sales; Entertainment and Recreation Industry; Computer Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., and Andrew Robertson. "Project Dreamcast: Serious Play at Sega Enterprises Ltd. (A)." Harvard Business School Case 600-028, September 1999. View Details
  27. Learning from Projects: Note on Conducting a Postmortem Analysis

    Describes how firms can learn from projects through postmortem analysis. Focuses on the step-by-step process of preparing and running a postmortem meeting as it is done at Microsoft and other software developers.

    Keywords: Conferences; Management Analysis, Tools, and Techniques; Projects; Software; Information Technology Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., and Steven Sinofsky. "Learning from Projects: Note on Conducting a Postmortem Analysis." Harvard Business School Background Note 600-021, September 1999. View Details
  28. Managing Experimentation: Module Overview Note for Managing Product Development(Note for Instructor)

    Describes the conceptual foundations and pedagogy for a module on managing experimentation in the development of products and services. The module has been taught in the second-year elective MBA course Managing Product Development. The purpose of the module is to help students learn how development activities should be structured, organized, and led such that they fully leverage the potential of new and evolving technologies that are changing the economics of experimentation. The material addresses many issues that need to be understood to manage experimentation activities successfully, ranging from structured experimentation to managing experimentation processes under technological change. Although the material is designed for a general management audience and requires no prior technical training, these new technologies have been thoroughly explained at a level that is sufficient for understanding and appreciating the managerial complexities involved. At the same time, students with technical backgrounds will find the material not only enriching but also relevant to their own career ambitions.

    Keywords: Transition; Business or Company Management; Product Development; Personal Development and Career; Science; Technology Adoption;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H. "Managing Experimentation: Module Overview Note for Managing Product Development(Note for Instructor)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 699-138, April 1999. View Details
  29. Product Development at Dell Computer Corporation

    Describes how Dell redesigned its new product development process after experiencing a major product setback and a significant decline in firm profits in 1993. Dell's new process is challenged during the development of a new line of portable computers when the incoming head of portables has to manage the risk of using a new technology. This case focuses on: (1) product development process design, (2) the costs and benefits of flexibility and structure in uncertain environments, and, (3) managing development risk during and after a financial and market setback.

    Keywords: Cost vs Benefits; Profit; Managerial Roles; Risk Management; Product Development; Business Processes; Problems and Challenges; Risk and Uncertainty; Hardware; Computer Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., Vish V. Krishnan, and Ashok Nimgade. "Product Development at Dell Computer Corporation." Harvard Business School Case 699-010, August 1998. (Revised February 1999.) View Details
  30. Microsoft Office: Finding the Suite Spot

    Describes a key decision-making process within Microsoft's Office products division. At a time when the PC software business has a great deal of uncertainty, Microsoft's management has to make a key decision regarding the future of software suites. A strengthening of suite development as a common platform would require significant organizational, process, and strategic alignments that may weaken the individual software divisions. Focuses on: 1) software development, with an emphasis on multi-applications suites; 2) different models of product innovation (common platform versus individual elements); 3) managerial challenges in aligning processes and the organization of several independent development units.

    Keywords: Decisions; Software; Strategic Planning; Organizational Design; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Product Development; Managerial Roles; Growth and Development Strategy; Risk and Uncertainty; Goals and Objectives; Multi-Sided Platforms; Innovation and Management; Computer Industry; Information Technology Industry;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., and Steven Sinofsky. "Microsoft Office: Finding the Suite Spot." Harvard Business School Case 699-046, November 1998. (Revised February 1999.) View Details
  31. Note on Lead User Research

    Describes the Lead User concept and method (step-by-step) with brief examples from industrial practice.

    Keywords: Customers; Management Practices and Processes; Industry Growth;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., and Ashok Nimgade. "Note on Lead User Research." Harvard Business School Background Note 699-014, August 1998. (Revised October 1998.) View Details
  32. Note on New Drug Development in the United States

    An overview of the new drug development process in the United States, using the migraine drug Imitrex as an illustrative example.

    Keywords: Product Development; Research and Development; Health; Pharmaceutical Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Thomke, Stefan H., and Ashok Nimgade. "Note on New Drug Development in the United States." Harvard Business School Background Note 698-028, February 1998. (Revised October 1998.) View Details

Other Publications and Materials

    Research Summary

    Teaching

  1. Leading Product Innovation

    Companies that continually excel at creating new products know how to innovate effectively. Focused on the core challenges of managing product development in unpredictable markets, this program prepares you to develop innovative products and processes by identifying and leveraging new opportunities. You will leave with the latest tools and strategies to manage today's diverse risks and to position your company for future success.
  1. Received the 2012 Apgar Award for Innovation in Teaching.

  2. Winner of the 2000–2001 Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing Research for "The Effect of 'Front-Loading' Problem-Solving on Product Development Performance" (with T. Fujimoto, Journal of Product Innovation Management, March 2000).

  3. First Prize Winner of the 1994 Product Development & Management Association’s (PDMA) International Dissertation Competition for “The Economics of Experimentation in the Design of New Products and Processes” (Ph.D. diss., Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

  4. Awarded the 1993 Lemelson-MIT Doctoral Fellowship for Invention and Innovation.

  5. Awarded a Dr. Jost Henkel Foundation Fellowship in 1985.