What to Look for in Tools II

We seek management tools principally in three R&D areas:

  • Governance: the selection and management of R&D investments (for pre-game+, mid-game+, end-game+ and commercialization+)
  • Evidence Gathering: planning, execution, analysis and reporting of scientific results
  • Mgmt. of Risk & Uncertainty: decision-making in the face of partial or conflicting evidence

Additionally we build tools to better manage behaviors in the aggregate (Organizational Behavior Management+).


We use the following dimensions to guide our selection of management tools & techniques:

Each of these is discussed below.

Behavior Fundamentals

We identified eight behavior fundamentals. There may be more. These are enough for our purposes; they were deemed sufficient to cover the unproductive behaviors documented during the 2006 DIA Pharmaceutical Industry Survey+.

Each behavior fundamental has a robust academic history that informs us on how they can be employed to select management tools & techniques. We don’t automatically assume we need more competition, more freedom, greater revelation+, etc. Instead we have at our disposal raw academic materials to know how to use competition, freedom, revelation, etc. to increase R&D effectiveness (e.g., to tamp down on unproductive behaviors and to promote productive ones).

Exhibit 1: Chart showing a rudimentary analysis of the management tool 'Alternate Competing Hypotheses' vis-à-vis the behavior fundamentals. We use the behavior fundamentals as an analytical framework to measure whether or not a tool can be used to increase effectiveness in R&D.

 

As an example, Exhibit 1 gives a high-level evaluation of Alternate Competing Hypotheses+ (ACH) using behavior fundamentals as our criteria. We see ACH is very effective in reducing legalism+: individuals performing the actions but not the intent of the actions. ACH receives an Overall Ranking of ‘excellent’ for increasing effectiveness in Evidence Gathering. This is an illustration. In the actual analysis we would seek to better understand how ACH contains unproductive behaviors implicated within legalism, for example: mechanistic behaviors+, other person’s fault+ and retired in place+.

Autonomous vs. Interventional

There are two major classes of management tools & techniques: autonomous and interventional.

Autonomous tools operate in the background and guide the daily activities of researchers and managers (without requiring too much management intervention). These are the default approaches; employed unless a deliberate decision is made to override them. Autonomous tools & techniques institutionalize behavior management. They are built into the fabric of the research unit, so-to-speak: they are internalized by team members to a point of becoming second nature. They autonomously handle 80-90% of the behaviors 80-90% of the time.

Examples of autonomous tools and techniques include Trial by Jury+, Alternate Competing Hypotheses, Independent Evaluation+, etc.

Interventional tools address breaches: undermining or ignoring autonomous mechanisms. Breaches often arise when individuals let self-interest (or self-preservation) override the interests of the community. Interventional tools confront miscreants directly, seek reparations, and build further protections into the tools and techniques.

Examples of interventional tools and techniques include Negotiation, Arbitration, Fines, Penalty Clauses, etc. It is not uncommon for each autonomous tool to have identified associated interventional tool to address known instances of breaches.

Rhoads’ Types

In his book Economist’s View of the World , Rhoads describes three different professions and the types of tools they employ to control behaviors: the economist (economic means), the lawyer (legal means) and the engineer (structural means). Corresponding personalities in industry are found in those who use incentives, policies & procedures, or computer systems to control or constrain behaviors.

Each type of tool has strengths and weaknesses. Economic means are easy to implement, but emotions often override economic interests during Key Behavioral Moments+. Legal means address the emotions, but are often prone to gaming or legalism. Structural means (i.e., you can’t do it any other way) are good for controlling, but not for encouraging.

Rhoads’ Types are not used as much as selection criteria. Instead we look to have a toolbox with a wide variety of these types. We often employ several different types to address a single behavioral issue.

Practicality

Just because a management tool is ranked excellent for effectiveness in our crosswalk with behavior fundamentals, it does not automatically qualify for duty. Trial by Jury is unsurpassed in its ability to achieve effectiveness in decision making. But we also seek practicality. Trial by Jury requires up to a year in pre-trial preparation. This is okay for commercialization decisions which have long lead times, but it’s not okay for quick decisions: e.g., annual evaluations of progress. We salvage the ‘good’ from Trial by Jury and repackage it into a management tool supportive of decisions with shorter lead times (e.g., a Judge Judy approach). We balance a ranking of high effectiveness against practicality.

We use the behavior fundamental lens when evaluating new tools. But we also use behavior fundamentals to remake existing tools into ones more suited for our needs (e.g., promoting creativity). Proven tools usually come with a rich history of academic research and practical experience. But in industrial R&D we rarely find off-the-shelf tools suited for a World Class R&D capability. We adapt tools brought in from the outside, or design tools specifically for our needs. Behavior Fundamentals give us the insights, analogous tools from other domains give us the practicality, and between these we build the innovative tools and techniques we need for a World Class R&D capability.


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