TVP – Metric 31 Management Support

Resource Type
Alan Fusfeld, Innovation Research Interchange
Innovation Metrics, Stage-Gate, Tools & Techniques
Associated Event

Background | User Guide | Program Contents | Stakeholders | List of Metrics

1. Metric Definition

A qualitative evaluation of the degree to which a project team is supported by its management through actions such as empowerment of project leaders and teams, resources, attention, recognition, and defense.

Management Support is critical to successful innovation. It is in essence showing the project teams that they are respected and trusted and providing for them all the tools they need to carry out the projects successfully.

Management Support is manifested in many ways, including:

• Empowerment of project leaders and project teams
• Providing appropriate input, guidance and direction on larger issues and allowing the team to attend to the details
• Providing resources for the project, including people, equipment, consultants, attending technical conferences, customer contacts, etc.
• Personal attention, such as attending project meetings and visiting labs
• Verbal affirmation of the teams, their approaches, and their progress
• Peer recognition, company and departmental awards
• Defense and support of the teams in response to questions and criticism
• Allowing project teams to fail without negative consequences

Low ratings in the Management Support metric may point to a breakdown in relations and credibility between R&D management and the project team and, perhaps, between R&D management and business management.

The following four-point scale may be used to assign a value to the state of management support in an R&D or innovation organization

Level  1 – Micromanaging

• Managers generally do not trust technical people to carry out their projects and are very critical of technical people
• Managers define and direct the projects
• Managers are running the show, in meetings and in the labs
• Technical people are punished for project failure in performance appraisals

Level 2 – Neglect

• Managers pay no attention to the projects and project teams
• Managers trust the technical people implicitly and leave them to themselves
• Managers rarely attend project meetings or visit the labs
• Projects are understaffed
• Project teams are making do with inadequate equipment and resources
• Technical people are rarely rewarded in peer recognition or company awards Some management support, but not extensive

Level 3 – Minimum Compliance

• Reasonable management support, but not meeting all the goals and/or not uniform throughout the organization
• Inconsistent facilitation of knowledge transfer from research to customers
• Inadequate provision for tools necessary to perform on projects

Level 4 – Due Diligence

• Managers respect technical people and trust them to carry out their projects
• Managers participate with technical people in defining projects
• Managers contribute ideas, but give broad guidance and direction in carrying out the projects
• Managers regularly attend project review meetings and frequently visit the labs
• Project teams are given the resources they need to successfully complete their projects
• Management acts as an advocate for the project team, facilitating interactions with other functions
• Technical people are regularly recognized and rewarded in peer recognition and company award programs
• Project failures are acknowledged, analyzed constructively, and used as a learning tool to see what could have been done better, but team members are not punished

2. Advantages and Limitations

This metric might be perceived differently by managers and employees. Although it might be evaluated simply by an honest and objective assessment of management practices, resource allocation, relationships between managers and technical people, and how project successes and failures are dealt with, it would be more meaningful to get input from project teams as well.   Assessment will require little history or benchmarking.

3. How to Use the Metric

It is recommended that input be obtained from both managers and project teams to compare their perceptions. This metric would lend itself to measurement in an employee opinion survey.

The metric is an overall assessment of practices throughout the organization that is being measured. If practices are different in different units or projects, the metric will be an average. Levels 1 and 4 are relatively straightforward. Levels 2 and 3 are interpolations between 1 and 4.

4. Options and Variations

There are several aspects to Management Support, such as empowerment, resources, and recognition. They may be measured altogether or split out into separate metrics.

5. Champion and Contacts

6. References

Farris, G.F. and Ellis, L.W. 1990. Managing Major Change in R&D, Research-Technology Management, 33 (1), pp. 33-37.