Description Transoms refers to a linear R&D approach aka Inductive Probabilistic Reasoning+ aka Bayesian probability. All the tasks for a new product candidate are lined up and ordered according to a predecessor – successor relationship, and then each task is performed, quality checked, and passed on to the next in line. Alternately Inductive Probabilistic Reasoning refers to the practice where each technical discipline works on its contribution to the project and then passes along its results to the next department. The 'ball' is passed so-to-speak from group to group. The word transom comes from the common saying “throwing it over the transom” which hints at the negative connotation for this practice of “out of sight, out of mind.”
Weaknesses It takes simultaneous optimization of the research product across many of the technical departments for a truly innovative product to emerge from R&D. As each department wrestles with its issues, tacking and turning as the research takes them, they are unthinkingly affecting how the other departments should be viewing their research. Perhaps I don't need to optimize this particular parameter of the product because another department can take care of it through another means. Perhaps I only need to get close enough to the optimum; there are even cases where the optimum is too good, rendering the final product unusable (e.g., Tysabri is a drug for Multiple Sclerosis that suppresses the immune system so well that opportunistic infections are able to emerge from hiding). Importantly as each department attempts to perfect the R&D product within its own confines they are making compromises and tweaking features that often affects how other departments should pursue their research. See the mudball story.
Appropriate Uses None. This practice is a major contributor to inefficiency in all types World Class R&D research (e.g., innovative, me-too+, product extensions+).


Further Reading