Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Engagement and Innovation

Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Engagement and Innovation

Article excerpt

"People support what they help to create." (Dannemiller Tyson 2000, 175)

One of the most difficult aspects of managing innovation and R&D is the sheer number of lateral relationships that are necessary for success. Leaders of R&D need to manage relationships with strategy, marketing, operations, engineering, and sales, not to mention customers and their own staffs. Each discipline has its own language, biases, and patterns of thought that must be acknowledged and integrated into the innovation effort. Learning to bridge these differences is a difficult journey in self-discovery, humility, and sheer effort. But the journey is an essential one if innovation is to be successful.

The engagement of others is important not just because they bring essential knowledge or resources or influence to bear. It is important because innovation requires commitment, and people commit fully only to a future that they help to create. This issue of RTM covers a wide range of topics, from seeing the future to managing Stage-Gate[R] processes, but a common theme is the importance of full engagement with a wide range of participants and stakeholders in the innovation process.

In "Research Foresights," Farrington, Henson, and Crews discuss a program PepsiCo created to explore the future systematically. The goal was to help the company develop enough confidence in its view of the future to invest meaningfully in the R&D needed to create that future. Throughout the program, significant effort was made to engage as many people as possible in the creative process, through games, workshops, and frequent communication. As the authors state, "Overall, wide engagement [was] the key to success." They emphasize that building commitment to a future is as important as getting that future right. We commit to--and act on--the things we help to create.

In their paper, "Best Practices in the Idea-to-Launch Process," Cooper and Edgett discuss the results of an extensive study of the new-product development process in over 200 companies. They identify 15 practices that distinguish best performers from poor performers in creating value from new products. …

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