Learning objective

In this module you will find information on a useful tool, which can be used to assess the innovation processes and management problems - the Black Box method. This method is closely linked with the "Decision making process" where the person responsible should take appropriate decisions on the basis of general information. You will also learn some general methods on how to put it into practice.
After reading the component you will be aware of:

  • What is meant by the "Black Box" method?
  • What can you "get out" of the Black Box?
  • What is it used for?
  • How it can be applied in an SME?

Suitable case studies are cited in order to get a clearer vision of the method, although it is not always easy to apply. The estimated time to go through this module is about 1 hour.


This module is dedicated to a specific monitoring method, called "the Black Box method", used in management processes in the company. We use the Black Box method in exploring dynamic management structures through their inputs and outputs, without bothering about their internal structure.
As an example we may refer to a financial audit of a company, which usually results in a financial report at the end. Tracing the "financial order" of the company is a long process of checking documents, tracing cash flow starting from the initial documentation etc. (on the input and output data) without knowing what's going on in the "Black Box" of financial proceedings. What is important at the end is to get an evaluation of the correct cash flow in the company.To explain the Black Box method you can imagine the following examples:

  1. Suppose, you are sitting in front of your computer and you are doing an internet research for a specific kind of data as your daily job. As an everyday task, you have to visit a number of search engines1 and source key findings. If you use two different search engines you will get two different sets of suggestions, although you have put the same search phrase in. In this case you know the how to addess the query to the search engine, you can assess the quality of the results and in addition you are not concerned about how you get the results.
  2. Sales and marketing in many companies is a kind of Black Box. Leads go in one end and customers come out the other, but no one really knows how it works inside. Attempts to increase the number of customers are based on throwing more activity into the front end of the box. But how does it work? What is the Manager expected to do so that you can optimise sales?

These are everyday examples. As you see, you are already familiar with "Black Boxes". What you will find below is a more theoretically explained version.

1 Search engine means "an information retrieval system designed to help find information stored on a computer system" source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_Information_Retrieval_System