Core Arguments Browse

Browse articles from Core Arguments (the 'constitution' of World Class R&D). Articles are listed on this display in reverse chronological order, by date of publication. Click here for a simple alphabetical listing of Core Argument Articles


Scope, Evidence Gathering

Master the compulsories+ and we allow (and fund) a broader scope of work...

The amoeba diagram is used to illustrate how we often limit our thinking to within a narrow scope (the nucleus) when in reality there is much more flexibility and freedom available to those willing to take chances. Rules and regulations are set up based on a historical precedent, and by knowing the precedent we dare to step outside the nucleus. The first to take the step has much more freedom in the pursuit for blockbuster products.
We know that you know when it’s time to stop. A key part of the compulsories is being able to intuit whether or not a line of inquiry is still worthwhile. This is an intuition based on time and resource constraints: we are not an open-ended academic pursuit. It may be that Mother Nature may someday make what you’re working on worthwhile, but given our industrial constraints, we go with what we know today.

Role of Governance, Evidence Gathering

R&D governance officials need to get with the show...

They can’t expect teams to perform freestyle+ and then come back and ask for results only seen from more conventional practices. Freestyle can also take more time; don’t ask for the results sooner. We trust individuals certified in the compulsories+ to have considered the dangers of not following convention, and to have accounted for them by other means. We trust individuals to find the most effective means to investigate the merits of the R&D pursuit.


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Compulsories, Evidence Gathering

Compulsories+ are what we expect researchers to show before they’ll be free to do the really fun science...

The Compulsories ensure individuals understand the springs of personal bias, work to develop a deep contextual understanding of their subject matter, and understand the limits to claims of truth based on experimental results. Individuals who have not mastered the compulsories can still work on blockbuster+ pursuits, but will more often be told what to do. They will not experience the exhilaration and personal satisfaction that come from true freedom of research. They will always be working under someone else’s terms.

Work Practices, Evidence Gathering

Design work practices to achieve effectiveness: the right pursuit, a common pursuit, and more useful evidence from each study...

Research for innovative products is not linear. There is no recipe, canned set of procedures or law-of-large-numbers. We take an iterative, Trial & Error+ approach and make it more effective. We depend on the Human Element to decide whether or not to continue down the same path. We design the work so that the Human Element can most easily discern the best path. Designed the work practices well and the right answer often emerges, and does not need a decision. No single path loses; it is merely superseded by more attractive ones (see Alternate Competing Hypotheses+).

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Commentary, Governance

Most companies under-invest in R&D Governance by an order of magnitude and over-invest in Administration by an even greater magnitude...

Consider the time and resources spent in R&D building budgets (one-size-fits-all+) and tracking against those budgets. How much more inexpensive and effective it would be to design the protections of Other People’s Money OPM+ into each investment transaction. With OPM every dollar spent also comes out of the recipient’s pocket, so funding agents are assured they’re only spending what’s absolutely necessary.

This is perhaps the most important message in the entire Governance section. Companies must spend much more on R&D Governance: World Class R&D companies will spend an order of magnitude more money on R&D Governance than is usually the case. Visit the headquarters of McDonald’s corporation to better appreciate the magnitude of the effort it takes to govern investments wisely.


More Core Arguments for Governance

Introduction, Evidence Gathering

In World Class R&D we build effectiveness into the act of Evidence Gathering: gathering the right kinds of evidence to the right level of assuredness...

We gather evidence to see if we’re working on the right R&D pursuit, which means we also gather evidence to see if we should shut down the pursuit.  We want enough evidence, not too much. There’s always enough ambiguity to call for one more study. But not in industrial R&D. Effective evidence gathering means developing a tolerance for ambiguity+, backed up by in-depth, contextual understanding of the underlying science. Assuredness comes from a mixture of just enough evidence combined with a tacit understanding+ of how the evidence fits into the research area.


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Oversight, Governance

We build oversight mechanisms that are non-destructive of the passions and enthusiasms of the teams...

Oversight makes sure those who spend funds exercise proper stewardship of the funds. The structure of the investment transaction helps, but in the end, legally and ethically, the governance body must perform its own due diligence. In World Class R&D, oversight is not just concerned with collusion, subversion or unethical behaviors: it’s looking for effectiveness. Good stewardship of our funds means effective use of those funds.

Individuals must perceive the oversight function to be a fair game played on a level playing field. This level playing field extends from the opening play through to the final score. If you predetermine all the important variables in the research (e.g., tight specifications on the end product) then teams expect to receive a ranking that reflects their working with their hands tied. If I'm going to be judged on the effectiveness of my work, then I expect to be free to do all I can to influence that judgment.

World Class R&D oversight rests primarily on three behavior fundamentals+:

  • Arms Length+ – minimizes ...