Dr. Brophey’s research background is both lengthy and varied. As an engineering student his first exposure to research was in the development of a water wave energy conversion device. This was followed by extensive work in mine vehicle automation and the establishment of a corporation to realize on the opportunity. Once he sold his interests in this firm and joined Nipissing, he has conducted research in areas of the disruptive technology of 3D printing, social change in Kenya and most frequently in the area of innovation management. His current research efforts are mostly focused on helping organizations realize the opportunities offered by innovation. The breadth and holistic nature of this topic has provided Dr. Brophey with opportunities to do research in a variety of areas including management of manufacturing, charitable organizations and a variety of small and medium-sized businesses.
Since 2011, Dr. Brophey has worked with a team of management, statistics and computer science researchers from Nipissing University. This group is developing an approach to an ongoing innovation management problem, which they refer to as the ‘Everything’s Different, Every Time’ innovation management problem.
In Canada, our international rankings suggest that we are somewhat competitive with other OECD nations with respect to generating ideas but are very close to the bottom when it comes to commercialization. Various Canadian organizations (Conference Board of Canada, Statistics Canada, etc.) have identified ‘business process risk’ as a key contributor to our lack of performance. In other words, potential innovators do not often know what steps to take inside and outside of their organizations to get their ideas to market.
Our team has surveyed the findings around innovation management and has concluded that no ‘silver bullet’ for managing the innovation process has been discovered over the past 85 years of intense academic effort to do so. They believe it is because the process is different for each innovation. Changes in personnel, timing, competition, the innovation itself and a host of other factors create different contexts for each innovation.
To verify that the ‘Everything’s Different, Every Time’ innovation management problem was real; the research team conducted a study among managers of mechanically based manufacturers in North America around the types of risks they perceive during innovation. From earlier studies, we know that once Innovation Managers (IMs) make the choice to proceed with an innovation, they commonly have concerns that they feel they need to address as part of moving the innovation forward. We also know that the actions they choose are meant to address these perceived risks, so this initial research focused on the changes in type and magnitude of risk faced by IMs. This pilot study confirmed that risks faced by IMs throughout the innovation process change in type and magnitude during and between innovations.
Having satisfied themselves that the ‘Everything’s Different, Every Time’ problem was fundamental, the team has been working on the next step towards helping managers do a better job of innovation implementation. They reasoned that if current managers facing risks knew what had worked best before for other managers facing the identical risk, then they are more likely to make informed and better choices during the innovation process, resulting in more innovations being successfully implemented. As a result, we have mapped the comprehensive variety of risks faced by IMs and the actions they have taken to deal with the risks faced. By asking them how successful the actions have been for given risks, we can track the success of particular actions (the Risk/Action/Success paradigm), and with this information help IMs make informed choices of which action(s) to take when they face the identical risks.
To begin asking managers about what worked best before, a very long list of risks they might have faced and the action(s) taken were identified. This large number of variables creates a major problem for data collection if conventional survey techniques were used. Recognizing this as an issue, over the last two years, the team has developed a natural-language-based surveying system built on keyword inputs by respondents (similar to Google’s search engine) that has maintained the ability to ask about any of the variables that respondents consider to be the most important. Critically, this keeps the respondent time down to less than 15 minutes. To see the natural-language-based survey in action, check it out at
Another feature of this work is that an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) will be used for data analysis, which is suitable for study of large numbers of variables and clusters of variables. For example, the best action for risk number 35 might be action C, and the best action for risk number 47 might be action E, but the neural network can consider what’s the best action when both risks 35 and 47 occur together. In that case, it may be that action H serves the combination of risks best. Conventional statistical analysis makes finding these kinds of relationships quite difficult and, unless they occur to the researcher, they may not get tested. With neural network analysis, these relationships reveal themselves in the results.
A description of this thought process and some exciting preliminary results from testing of data from students is attached in another journal article that you can access here: http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S1363919615500577
Here is a selected list of additional publications and presentations describing Dr. Brophey’s work in other related fields:
Selected Journal Articles
3D printing disruptions and strategic choice. A way forward. Brophey, G.. International Journal of Technology Marketing. Vol.11 No. 4 pp 440-452
Dudley, Dentists and Design. A 3D Printing Dilemma. Brophey, G., Stubbert, E. Ivey Case Publishing, 9B15M061, 9 pages, Teaching Note, 8B15M061, 8 pages. Harvard Business Publishing, W15233-PDF-ENG
A Project Dilemma at Canadian Shield Insurance, Stacey, D., Hemsworth, D., Brophey, G., Sanchez-Rodriguez, C. Ivey Case Publishing, Case No. 9B11E010, Harvard Business Publishing,– Case no. W11384-PDF-ENG, 14 pages, Teaching Note, 11 pages
Innovation practices within small to medium-sized mechanically-based manufacturers. Brophey, G. & Brown, S. Innovation Management, Policy & Practice. Volume 11 Issue 3, Pages 327-340
The Waterharvester: Making Waves in Rural Kenya. Herrmann, S. Brophey, G & Lafrance-Horning, D. – Ivey Case Publishing, Harvard Business Publishing – Case no. 9B09A015, 10 pages, Teaching Note No. 8B09A15, 7 pages.
Microfinance and the Kipsigis of Southwest Kenya. Brophey, G & Wiszowaty, R. – Ivey Case Publishing Case No. 9B08M059, 16 pages, Teaching Note No. 8B08M059, 8 pages .
Selected Invited Expertise-based Presentations
Sept. 2016 “Research into Innovation Management” Graduate Student Workshop, Corvinus University, Budapest, Hungary
Sept. 2016 “Innovation and Organizations, Embracing the Paradox” MBA Strategy class, Corvinus University, Budapest, Hungary
Sept. 2015 “Innovation and The United Way- Peel Region”, Annual General Meeting United Way- Peel, Port Credit, Ontario
Apr. 2012 Keynote – “Accountability and Innovation: Symbiosis or Toxic Brew?” Ontario Hospital Association, Northwestern Ontario Annual Meeting, Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Apr. 2012 Keynote – “Accountability and Innovation: Symbiosis or Toxic Brew?” Ontario Hospital Association, Northeastern Ontario Annual Meeting, North Bay, Ontario
Nov. 2011 “The Entrepreneur – Are they the chicken or the egg?” Harnessing Biomass II conference, North Bay, Ontario.
Nov. 2011 “Ideas to $ – The Process” Innovation Initiative Ontario North conference, North Bay, Ontario.
Oct. 2011 Keynote -‘Innovation for manufacturers – Unleashing your hidden potential’ Xerox Research Center of Canada, Mississauga, Ontario
June 2011 ‘Innovation for manufacturers – Unleashing your hidden potential’ Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium meeting, Oakville, Ontario
Jan. 2011 ‘Adding Innovation to Your Tool Box.’ Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium meeting, Sudbury, Ontario
Jan. 2011 ‘Adding Innovation to Your Tool Box.’ Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium meeting, Sault Ste., Marie, Ontario
Nov. 2010 ‘Managing your innovation process. Benchmarks from Canadian manufacturers for creating better ideas, opening pathways to innovation, and measuring your innovation results.’ Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium meeting, North Bay, Ontario
Mar. 2010 ‘Innovation’. MBA Speakers Session. University of Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt.
Oct. 2008 Keynote – Annual meeting of the Ontario Institute of the Purchasing Managing Association of Canada – Topic – The strategy/supply chain interface – how and where can management of the innovation process help? – Ajax, Ontario.