The Importance of Breaking Instead of Compressing Time in Accelerated Innovation: A Study of Makeathons’ New Product Development Process
68 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2018 Last revised: 11 Dec 2018
Date Written: November 7, 2018
The innovation journey of new product development processes often spans weeks or months. Recently, hackathons and makeathons suggest turning the journey into a sprint of only a couple of days using new tools and technologies. This brings new temporal conditions and dynamics to the innovation process. Based on existing research, we would expect such conditions to result in failure to produce new working products, yet they often lead to working, innovative products. To investigate this puzzle, we closely studied the product development process of 13 comparable projects in assistive technology makeathons. We find that accelerating innovation induced not only high product development ambiguity but also temporal ambiguity. In response, some projects compressed time and worked in high synchronization while other projects broke time and worked in low synchronization. The underlying difference between compressing and breaking projects was rooted in their different perceptions of the accelerated innovation time frame. This played a critical role as only projects that broke time were able to produce functioning new products. They sustained both product development and temporal ambiguity throughout the process despite the extremely limited time frame. This study contributes to theories on innovation processes and temporality.
Keywords: innovation, hackathons, temporality, new product development
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