Mattson Project Delta (A): A new recipe for innovation
The case describes an attempt by Steve Gundrum, the CEO and President of Mattson, to improve the company’s innovativeness. Mattson, located in Silicon Valley, California, is an independent developer of new products for the food and beverage industry. Mattson creates, develops, and brings to market new beverages, snacks, frozen meals, and many other food and beverage products as a contractor to the large producers in the industry. Gundrum believes there’s an opportunity to improve his innovation system by borrowing from the leading-edge software firms that surround him. To test new methods of developing products, Gundrum creates a contest – to develop a better cookie – and commissions three teams: one using Mattson’s traditional hierarchical team structure, one using open source (OS) development, and a third using extreme programming (XP). The Mattson Project Delta (A), (B), and (C) cases explain what happened.
The study and discussion of this case can help students understand more deeply the importance of team composition and structure in the innovation process. It also shows the power of reaching across industry boundaries to find new ideas, not just for products but for business process and structure as well. The key lessons in this case are that: 1) Team structure and management can make a big difference in both creativity and productivity. 2) Problem solving (internal generation of new answers to problems) and solution finding (external exploration for existing solutions to problems) can each be valuable in different situations and at different stages in the innovation life cycle. 3) Managers have many options when choosing a team structure. Further, the case provides a nice language for talking about team structure. 4) Prototyping can be applied not just for new products, but new structures and processes for innovation.
Mattson, Consumer Goods, Food and Beverage
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