Leading the way: from Project Management to Innovation

With a Ph.D in Aerospace Engineering and some previous work experience in my pocket, I joined SII in Germany back in March 2012, where I have ever since been contributing to a series of interesting and challenging projects.

Although my role mainly evolves around the analysis of aircraft structures, my team leader has been relying on my support in the planning and definition as well as in the decision-making process of work packages outsourced to external suppliers.

Based on this experience, in early 2016 I started thinking more seriously about the possibility of broadening my knowledge in the management field, with the aim of rounding up my professional profile, over and above the technical qualification gained through my education and daily work.

Encouraged by SII, in June 2016 I decided to enroll in a one-week-course called “Fundamentals of Project Management for Aerospace Professionals” at the University of Kansas (Lawrence, Kansas, U.S). This course was held by Prof. Herbert Tuttle and referred to a book written by a “guru” and considered to be the “bible” in the field: “Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling”, by Dr. Harold Kerzner.

This book had such an impact on me that I read through all its 1000+ pages over the weeks that followed and then decided to get in touch with the author via email. To my surprise, this tuned into a regular correspondence, in which Dr. Kerzner not only gave me consideration, but encouraged me to write a case study about my views on the complexities project managers face when dealing with big size projects. This was motivation enough to diligently work on my draft for three months, which fortunately met Dr. Kerzner’s expectations and even managed to find its way into his new book “Project Management Case Studies”, published in April 2017.

Project Management in big size projects: PMI Berlin, May 2018

In a next step, I was asked to consider participating at the Project Management Institute Conference scheduled to take place in Berlin in June 2018. Supported and encouraged by SII, I took the decision to apply and -alas!- got selected to be one of the speakers in the conference.

The preparation for the 75-minute presentation was, to say the least, demanding. I must admit though that the PMI organizers were a great help, as I had the chance to rehearse with expert coaches in communication techniques a couple of times before the speech. However, the excitement that I felt addressing more than 150 managers at the conference was priceless! Together with Dr. Kerzner, we drew up a list of “golden rules” for project managers and elaborated on the so called “chess analogy” to explain the dynamics in duopoly markets. The originality of this concept instigated several people to approach me after the speech and demonstrate their interest and appreciation for the subjects covered.

Innovation Management Software: Open Nation Summit, Berkeley, October 2018

Three months later, in September 2018, it was time for a new challenge: Dr. Kerzner asked me if I had time and was interested in investigating a bit about “Innovation Management” in big companies.

Of course, companies like SII are focused on developing innovative technical solutions for the many Clients they serve. But developing state-of-the-art technology for specific products does not necessary guarantee a systematic approach to innovation managing at all levels of a company.

Consequently, I embarked into an industrial research and discovered the existence of companies specialized in “Innovation Management Software” with the purpose of stimulating the birth of new ideas and to systematically support companies in their innovation processes.

Based on specific case studies, I started to describe the philosophy behind such software as well as its potential benefits and concluded my work with some hypothesis on its future development. I am hopeful this will become a chapter in a new book “Innovation Project Management”, to be published by John Wiley & Sons next year and expected to be adopted in future project management, innovation and entrepreneurship courses.

Barkley based IdeaScale was one of the companies that provided me with two of the case studies. Through this cooperation, I was invited to attend the annual Open Nation Summit in California on October 25-26, 2018. This event gives leading innovators the opportunity to share their experience with Innovation Management Software across a variety of industrial fields.
Once again sponsored by my employer, I took off from Munich Airport and flew all the way to San Francisco, the gateway to the “greenlands of innovation”!
The summit at Berkley was a great experience and gave me the opportunity to visit two companies in the bay area dedicated to the research in the field of innovation management.

What will the future bring?

At this time, I do not exactly know where this road may lead me to, but one thing is clear: thanks to people that believe in me I have had a chance to gain some real useful knowledge – for me and my company. This doesn’t happen every day. In the last slide of the presentation I held in Berlin, I tried to illustrate the importance of this experience with a simple quote made by the Italian astrophysicist, Riccardo Giacconi (2002 Nobel laureate): “Scientists are like painters. Michelangelo became a great artist because he had been given a wall to paint on.”.
Personally, I think that this applies to all of us, so here is my message:

Company structures should be arranged such that everyone is in the right spot to contribute to her or his full potential. Mangers must, like mentors, have the courage to bet on people….and give them a wall to paint on.

Luigi Morsa
Project Engineer SII Deutschland GmbH

2018-12-19T16:32:11+00:00

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