How Can the Uncertainty Map Help Managers Essay

1. How can the uncertainty map help managers?

Pearson’s uncertainty map provides a framework for analyzing and understanding uncertainty in the innovation process. It addresses the nature of the uncertainty and the way it changes over time, and provides managers with knowledge to make a decision and transform ideas into innovation. It also determines the type of management skills needed for different degrees of uncertainty.

The framework separates uncertainty into four quadrants based on basic characterizations:

a. uncertainty about ends – the eventual target of the project

b. uncertainty about means – how to achieve the target

Drawn on two axes, uncertainty about ends appears on the vertical axis, about means on the horizontal. The axes then divide producing four quadrants, namely:

– Quadrant 1, also known as exploratory or Blue Sky Research is where there is no clear definition of the target or the means. Here, the organization is experimenting with unfamiliar technologies, and unidentified markets or products. Depending on the manager, ideas and developments may be immediately recognizable as possible commercial products. A technical manager may understand a technology but a commercial manager might see a wide range of commercial opportunities.

– Quadrant 2 bears the label, Developmental Engineering. It contains ongoing activity within say, manufacturing companies that continually examine production processes looking for inefficiencies and ways to reduce costs. Here the target is clear but means are unidentified. The company may start several different projects centered on different technologies or approaches along the way so there is considerable uncertainty about how to reach the target. A manager will require special project management skills here to ensure either project delivery within budget, or cancellation to avoid escalating costs.

– Quadrant 3 is the Applications Engineering dimension in which there is somewhat more certainty about how the business will achieve the target, but less certainty regarding the ends. Here they explore the potential uses of known technology, and management efforts center on which markets to enter, as well as discovering how to use the technology most effectively.

– Quadrant 4 is the dimension with the most certainty. Activities here center mostly on improving existing products or creating new products through a combination of market opportunity and technical capability. This is where companies use innovation to develop new product designs that use minimal and new technology, but dramatically improve appearance and performance. Managers have to make timely decisions because while certainty is highest for them, so it is for the competition. This is where a company can win or lose the race to be first to market, and commercial managers become excited because the project is close t o market with minimal technical newness.

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