Where to Look for New Tools

We go beyond academia. Today’s management sciences1 are often populated by the descendants of the original time and motion researchers, the Taylorists, individuals who simplistically claimed all work activities could be quantized, mechanized and ordered. There is very little academic underpinning for the management of creativity in R&D (until this website). Executive MBA’s teach you a factory-approach to R&D: industrialization of breakthroughs already achieved. At World Class R&D we look for management tools and techniques that allow you to achieve new breakthroughs.

We’re off into uncharted territory so we get to make up the rules as we go. Since we can’t go beyond our experience, we seek the experience of others beyond our usual ken. We go outside of industrial R&D seeking solutions for our new genre of R&D.

…the innovators, the men without heavy commitments to the system of attitudes and prejudice built up in the [existing industry] … by virtue of the diversity of their interests they were, relatively, freer to assess the meaning of any new process and to throw their energy and intelligence behind its development. They could weigh the merits of [new approaches] not by trying to decide what it [meant for them in the old industry] but what problems it would solve for them in their [new industry]… [you see a] consistency that develops in any personality or attitude … an almost careless quality, a preoccupied note, runs through the activities of these [new industry] men as they strove … to put the innovation on a sound basis. Morison, Elting E. (1968). Men, Machines, and Modern Times

We seek insights from government, non-profits, or consortia; or even, sports, religion or hobbies. We internalize an understanding of the behavior fundamentals+, which are universal, and use that understanding to scan our personal pursuits for new tools and techniques.

We’re not provincial. We seek management tools where ever they may be. We don’t limit ourselves to tools ‘proven’ in our industry or in R&D. We seek tools to address the tasks we face, regardless their place of origin. Tools are procedures and procedures cross industries.

But where do we look?

  • We study Management Sciences but do not ignore other academic disciplines able to make important contributions to our thinking: Political Science, Ecology and/or Evolutionary Science, Economics, Sociology and other academic disciplines exploring human behaviors,
  • Pay attention to experiences coming from outside personal pursuits (e.g., academia, legal, non-profits, government, religion, other pursuits)
  • Study our Worst Practices+. These practices are prevalent in many R&D organizations. How did they take hold? What problems did they intend to address? Worst Practices highlight the need. We consider which management tools can best meet that need (from the standpoint of effectiveness).

Management tools deal with human behaviors and are therefore subject to universal rules of behavior. Being a manager means you step back from the activity-at-hand (e.g., drug discovery) and view the activity as an experiment or clinical trial in which you’re attempting to optimize productivity through the application of management tools. We add a little more of this tool here, we take away some of that tool there. In the end we have a personalized approach that we have built and are interested in making succeed.

Home Page January 2011

  • 1. And their purveyors, the management consultants
Further Reading