Preface by Paul Germeraad
Book Design and Design Principles
This book was designed based on the feedback and questions I get from students I teach at Caltech and the students that I teach at licensing executive society courses in the United States and around the world. One of the things that I think important is for them to tap the insights generated by others have gone before them so they don’t have to repeat the same mistakes. There is little room for poor choices in today’s competitive environment.
The other is design criteria of this book comes from the book called Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. In that book different types of financial management were described. This book builds much in the same way, by trying to point out by experience, which things have made companies wealthy and innovative, and which things have led to decay and bankruptcy.
There’s been a great deal written about R&D, but over the years it’s changed. In the 1950s it was ivory tower research institutes. By the 80s and 90s R&D was working in collaboration with business groups, and now in the late 90s and early 2000s R&D is working in conjunction with intellectual property and licensing organizations as well. Each generation of books on R&D has dealt with the type of research that was done in that respective period of time. Today it is about Open Innovation.
There are several design principles that I used to putting this book together. These were teaching experiences and principles I’ve gained in my career: KISS, surfing, flying, Boy Scouts, deadly sins, B+, constant improvement, and “just do it”.
The first design criteria was “who is the target market for this book and what value should this work produce?” Senior R&D management is a real target audience. The company audience is broad horizontally. This book is really for any industry or size of company. We are talking about R&D management and innovation in large corporations all the way down to start ups. The value to companies to use the methods in this book is that R&D will be better run and better integrated into the organization. I hope this book influences federal policy, CEO actions, and executive committee roles. If the CEO is not the interested party then the CTO and their staff can certainly use this book as a resource to value to individuals.
Hopefully people will read this book will become more successful and better able to lead organizations of their own. My wish is they become more personally productive and make their groups more fun and challenging to be members of. For society the hope is that design principles inspire people in K1 through 12 education to provide a science background and problem-solving background that is needed to raise children who go on to college and higher education and become productive members of society.
The metric for this book is for people who read it is: “What is their return on investment in reading the book?” Is it worthwhile in a personal sense? Does it help people become more productive members of their companies? For corporations the answer is simple. They can absolutely measure how much money they are putting into R&D, licensing and intellectual property areas and track if the output of revenues and profitability changes when the methods described herein are adopted. I’m of course confident the answer is a resounding yes because of the years of experience helping companies put in place these practices.
Second and probably most important principle in writing this book is KISS: keep it simple stupid. Although may not seem that that this was a design criteria from the size of this book it was. In each case I’ve tried to keep to the basic elements and concepts, and away from too many stories and complications. I have really tried to focus on what was the essence of creating highly productive organizations.
The third design principle comes from a background of surfing. Surfing is an interesting sport. You are on a fluid surface that is always changing. No two waves ever form up and shape the same way. Although you know the general principles and certainly train your body and your muscles to respond to the changing environment, actually being on a wave is an experience of actively deciding “what is my intent”, “what do I want to do now”, “how is the wave shape changing in a way that will allow me to do what I want”, and “how do I position myself for successful ride”. I find this dynamic analogy works the same way for organized innovation. The business environment is consistently changing and each time we embark on a new project it is a different ride. It’s an experience of looking at “how is the business environment going to allow us to get to where we want to go?”
The fourth design criterion for this book came from my father. He was a test pilot and one of the things that I learned from him is you always remember the “source of information” along with the “information itself”. He was trained that way and I understand from him that the US astronauts also thought in a similar manner. There are times when thinking like this saved lives. For the purpose of this book it isn’t it just important to remember that it is good to apply stage gate methodology. You also need to remember that stage gate methodology is good because the following types of companies have found it very useful in increasing project success and shortening development cycle times. When one remembers a source of information, that is the assumptions that come with the information as well as content, one has a much easier time managing innovation. You can then proactively determine when it might be the information is bad and when you’re applying the right information to the wrong environment.
The fifth design criterion comes from my Boy Scout background. Living the 10 laws of the Boy Scout motto when leading innovation organizations pays big dividends. Note that these 10 laws really derive from fundamental properties handed down from the Greeks, Old Testament, Buddha, Muhammad, etc. Innovation organizations are really being about helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, etc. These are all things to live by as an innovation organization. I’ve tried to take advantage of my understanding of my learning from others when they were consistent with these principles. I’ve also found from leading innovation organizations’ that governing by these principles tends to produce the highest outputs in the shortest periods of time.
The sixth design principle for this book has to do with ancient Greece. Of the seven deadly sins the ones most detrimental to new business development are pride, envy and greed. The Classical Greek philosophers on the other hand considered four virtues to be foremost. Those most beneficial to creation of new products are prudence, temperance and courage. I mention these at the outset because in creating new products and services thing often go much better, or worse, than planned. I’ve found either extreme to be as detrimental to project success as the other. When things go well, management egos show up and suffocate the program. When things go bad witch-hunts ensue. I’ve seen many projects launch in the commercial marketplace, and senior leaders said they were going to give the new venture room to grow. In fact, what they do is put the same criteria on a new embryonic business as they do on a mature established one. In so doing they bring a talented management team to a halt with unnecessary work, and overhead. And in the end, as a result, thwart the venture’s growth and ultimately its financial performance.
The seventh design criterion in writing this book is that B+ is good enough. I got this concept from a colleague, Rolf Smith. He pointed out that he always had to look at his own work and determine when he was preoccupied with perfection for its own sake and his reputation, and when was it good enough to be able pass along to help others. This principle applies to writing as well as everything else. I apologize upfront for things that are not correct in this book, and for references omitted and people and of incorrectly cited. But at some point B+ is good enough it’s important to get the general concepts out in way that people can start to use and improve upon them.
It is my hope and goal that other people will help improve what I started by providing their insight and wisdom in reviewing this book. I also hope that readers of this book will get back to me when you can make it something even better. Hope this book will end up being a very dynamic work and that people will come forward, provide corrections and we’ll all benefit from an addendum. It’s clear R&D and innovation have changed through the years, I expect they will continue to do so. Open innovation, global expansion, these are things where we are all learning new ways and new methods. As societies uphold intellectual property in different ways in different parts of the world, rules and laws and regulations will change for the better. Looking to continuously better innovation management and bringing new products and services to market will benefit everyone.
Finally I’ll say that the reason for doing this book and starting right now is that if I waited, excuse the expression, hell would probably freeze over. There is no time like the present and if I didn’t complete this project soon I’d lose energy to do it. Sometimes it’s important to just move forward and do something, be proactive about it, make the best of what is created and at some point let planning make way for action
Sources of Information Used
The sources of information that I have used in putting this book together have come from several decades of saving key information that helped me make faster, higher quality more insightful and sticky decisions. My office has grown, the file cabinets of gotten full, its the time of my life now to whittle down and decide what’s important, what can I share with others that would make a difference in their lives, and the rest needs to go into the trashcan. This book is based on the hundreds books that I’ve read, thousands of articles that I’ve clipped, and an even greater number of insightful conversations with colleagues that were so vivid that they are worth repeating. I hope that I’ve accurately and correctly recollected where I got what.
I want to thank all the people that have helped me write this book. Over 50 people helped in the editing of the text that I originally put together. Without their support and help this would only be a ramble. Unfortunately however the list of people that helped are too numerous to mention by name. I feel bad about this because in my life I have help edit many books and I have always felt disappointed the end to find out that I was left off the acknowledgement pages. I can see now why this has to be the case, but I do ask those that have helped to understand this phenomenon.
I also need to thank the people who I don’t know. I say this because I have saved materials for over several decades that acted as resources for this book. Where I saved the reference I’ve included it in the text. There are many ideas that I copied down from chalkboards from speakers, ideas that I thought about conferences, thoughts from e-mails for which I have long since lost the reference. I apologize for the sloppy bookkeeping, but I wanted to incorporate these important ideas than lose them, though I need to thank all those who contributed in this manner.
I do hope the people will come forward and continue to add to this book and when that happens I want to make sure that their names and organizations are captured along with their insights.