History of and Environment for New Product and Business Ideas


Historic Perspective

Over the years there has much debate on whether creativity related to innovation or invention can be structured, or whether it is one of happenstance. It’s an important question for New Business Development and R&D leaders to answer as it affects the fundamental design of such organizations. If one looks at recent R&D trends one would say that after World War II there was a real trend towards “Ivory Towers” and innovation or invention based on happenstance. During the 1980s and early 1990s the trend was in the other direction, which is innovation-on-demand.
Before launching into the pros and cons of each approach one must look at the historic perspective. Looking at Schumpeter’s technology long-waves one sees that technology cycles have progressively been shortening, as seen in the “Schumpeter’s waves accelerate” figure.

Schumpeter’s waves accelerate

Nuala Beck and Associates conducted detailed industry studies and knowledge ratios on over 300 North American industries in the late 1990s. They also found compressing technology long-waves. Their categorization was a “commodity” driven era of the Industrial Revolution prior to around 1918. The key factors they found during this timeframe were cheap steel, textiles, coal, steel, and railroads. Their second era was categorized as “manufacturing” driven, from 1918 to around 1981. The key factor during that time frame was very cheap energy, especially oil. The four growth engines were automobiles, machine tools, housing, and retailing. Enabling infrastructures were highways, airports and telephones. The last cycle they looked at was the time since 1981. There the key factor has been cheap microchips. The four engines of growth during this time were computers & semiconductors, health and medical, communications and telecommunications, and instrumentation. Enabling infrastructure has been telecommunications satellites, fiber optics, LANs and WANs, and mobile communications.

DuPont’s Four Waves of Innovation

Long cycles can be found as well in large companies that have been in existence for many decades. For example DuPont found they have a 15-20 year innovation cycle as shown in the “DuPont’s Four Waves of Innovation” figure. The emphasis shifts from a period of discovery research to a later period of consolidation. This 17 year cycle appears characteristic for just a few specific industries and companies, if for no other reason than the data set is very small.

The point again is the technology long-wave times are compressing dramatically and the methodology associated with the invention and innovation have changed as well. What might have been an appropriate creativity or innovation approach in the 1700s is not necessarily the best approach for the 2000’s. As an example, in the mid-1990s Industrial Research Institute surveyed 50 Fortune 500 companies looking for how high-performance invention and innovation was occurring. The survey results were mixed. 54% of the over 200 technical R&D leaders surveyed felt that invention is mostly an individual effort and is not a team effort. Innovation on the other hand was felt by all to be mostly a team effort. In contrast 21% of those surveyed felt that there was a team approach clearly present with respect to invention too. This group felt the both invention and innovation were strongly at team in collaborative effort. Further they felt the both invention and innovation systems can be understood and improved upon by organizing them effectively.

Recent surveys in the 2000s are equally mixed but now moving to team approaches. There is usually a group that believes that if you hire good people share with them the mission, values and objectives of an organization and turned them loose, good things will happen. The contrasting group believes that it is important to go about invention and innovation in a structured manner if one wants to become one of the most productive entities in the world.

Inventive and Innovative Frameworks

Ideation Inc. published a framework that helps clarify the type of creative thinking you want to achieve. At a high level they ask you to think about the different processes you use when you’re trying to be creative about products, processes, marketing or management. Second, is to think about is whether it is incremental or revolutionary results that you are after. Lastly you must consider if you wish to work within narrow or wide boundaries, such as time or money.

Their approach is a simple questionnaire to ascertain if one is focused on creativity in the product, marketing, process, and or management areas. A second anchored scale deals with the numbers of solutions or ideas that you are after. They range on a seven point anchored scale from a few to many (dozens or more). A third seven point anchored scale has to do with the desired output, being at one extreme implementable solutions or “baked technology” through to new ideas or directions never before tried. The fourth anchored scale differentiates based upon the type of solutions that you need. At one end of the scale is incremental, at the middle next-generation, and at the far end breakthrough or revolutionary. The fifth element is the timeframe for implementation, be it short such as one to three quarters, to long such as from three to five years. The last determinant is the amount of money that’s available. Is the project going to be conducted within it tight budgetary constraints that require approval, through to an open funding environment where support is for the most part unlimited?

Fortune 500 organizations have experimented with models in each range of these scales. Xerox Parc for many years operated in a very free invention and innovation environment. HP on the other hand goes through a 10 step process. Because HP regards continuous innovation is their lifeblood, their 10 step process acts as a catalyst for innovation and invention by focusing on the needs of potential customers and the best means answering them. Such a structured process for gathering and analyzing and testing data combined with the creativity and expertise of individuals is what they feel drives innovation. They seek imaginative understanding of user needs and creative application of technology combined with the focusing of resources.

The HP process started with a statement of purpose or vision of the organization followed by its mission and goals that are their five-year objectives. The seeds for invention or innovation came from customers and channels of distribution. Those seeds were defined and prioritized based on an analysis of end-user customer and channel needs together with the detail understanding of their purchase process and value chain.

Directed Invention and Ideation

Such Invention-on-Demand moved forward more quickly in the 1990s as the TRIZ problem-solving technology was exported from Russia and adopted in Europe and the U.S. The premise underscoring this technology was that one could direct the process of innovation step by step. Another premise of this approach was that having good well-resourced people, left to their own devices, was insufficient to create enough technology to sustain the growth of most corporations. What was needed was an ideation method that would deliver superior quantities and quality of new inventions and innovations. Structured approaches to invention and innovation thus became popular (explored one by one in detail in later chapters) following the belief that one could direct invention and innovation in a way that would improve corporations’ performance as shown in the “Effect of Directed Invention and Ideation” figure.

Environmental effects on invention and innovation

In conjunction with structured approaches of invention and innovation, the idea of providing individuals with environments that would allow them to dramatically increase their creative output was also undertaken by corporations such as Polaroid. The focus was on “learning to innovate” with respect to the innovation process, i.e. to learn how the elements of providing content, processes, structure, a specific research methodology, training on learning how to learn, and evidence of learning as a scientific hypothesis could all become a Corporation’s Core Competency. Other organizations such as Hoechst Celanese and 3M Corporation investigated open working environments. In these environments individuals were invited to stand up and declare their interest on an issue, concern or opportunity. The project champion invited others that shared similar interests to join them. The focus was on individual passion, responsibility, an unstructured environment; little or no facilitation, no agenda, and a top management commitment provide time to investigate unusual ideas and most importantly “don’t get in their way”. This process works well when the integrity of the group is honored and where employees are responsible adults that take appropriate actions for things which they really care about.

The Association for Managers of Innovation, a working group of the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, NC, formulated 10 principles of innovation to use in constructing such environments where undirected individual invention and innovation were desired. These principles were:
Principle 1: Forget a lot of what you have learned.
Principle 2: Don’t use experts too soon.
Principle 3: Develop knowledge. Use models and prototypes for communication, develop breath and sufficient depth akin to a Renaissance man, be intuitive versus logical, and think like your problem.
Principle 4: Acknowledge there are three phases of an idea. The first phase is ridicule. As an individual are you crushed or enriched by criticism. The second phase is resistance, and the third phase is finally recognition.
Principle 5: The importance of timing. Individuals really need to understand the sequence by which their innovation will impact areas that will intersect future trends.
Principle 6: Think of analogous solutions. Utilizing the previously discussed TRIZ technology is one such example.
Principle 7: Overcome intellectual myopia.
Principle 8: Be a beta risk manager. Be sensitive whether your tendency is to create type 1 or type 2 errors. Type 1 is to call something good that is really bad. This error is relatively easy to avoid. Type 2 is to call something bad that is good. This is the harder of the two do.
Principle 9: Treat patents as refereed articles. One wants to make the idea as bulletproof as possible.
Principle 10: Have an attitude that fosters innovation. This consists of not taking yourself too seriously, being comfortable on the hairy edge of chaos, being curious, being persistent, and embracing fun and creativity. Summed up it is a will-do versus a can-do mantra.

Although the above is good guidance, sometimes is easier to understand what to do in terms of behaviors. Mary Wallgren, a member of the Association of Managers of Innovation did just that with 60 recorded behaviors which stimulate a climate for creativity. This work is unique in that it describes behaviors at three different levels: individual, leadership and organization. These listed behaviors are also a very good source of metrics when one wants to double-check and/or assess an organization’s creative climate.


Individual’s Behaviours 

  • just do it 
  • Speak before you think (or talk yourself out of the idea) 
  • Don’t weigh the consequences 
  • Don’t worry about approval 
  • Have confidence in your abilities 
  • Recognize that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission 
  • Remember lack of failure equals lack of effort 
  • Understand that we learn from failures 
  • Don’t be afraid to try things 

Leader’s Behaviours 

  • Be a role model for risk-taking 
  • Allow people to try new techniques and experiment even though you don’t know the outcome 
  • Express confidence in people’s abilities 
  • Accept failure, help people learn from it 
  • Let employees talk with people in another business, even a competitor 
  • Create a “Do it, then ask permission” environment 
  • Give positive feedback for work done. . . . give “atta-boys” to encourage taking risks and/or presenting “new” ideas 
  • Let people know that they won’t be penalized for taking risks 
  • Support people to take ownership on decisions, give them accountability and authority 
  • Advise others to make themselves “uncomfortable” at least once a day • Assign multiple projects that require new thinking to get them done 
  • Don’t weigh the circumstances 
  • Don’t worry about approval 
  • Use positive affirmations 
  • Practice role-playing 
  • Have confidence in the abilities of yourself and others 
  • Reward risk-taking 
  • Avoid creating a culture that rewards the least mistakes 
  • Challenge others to explore the parameters of a risk 
  • Challenge others to explain why risk is worth taking 
  • Make a decision to take a risk not only on the merits of the idea but on the passion of the person involved 
  • Remember: determination can steer risks into rewards 
  • Personally encourage those willing to take risks 
  • Celebrate the failures 

Organization’s Behaviours 

  • Support the message that failure is OK, we need to learn from it 
  • Arrange a talk with a manager in another business 
  • Allow room for failure 
  • Allow people to make their own decisions 
  • Give positive feedback for work done 
  • Let folks know that they won’t be penalized for taking risks 
  • Look to make changes that no one else has 
  • Find ways to improve 


Individual’s Behaviours 

  • Be responsible for setting your own goals
  • Know people that you work with; spend time together
  • Incorporate team building and bonding
  • Do fun things outside work or during work
  • Be honest and tactful
  • Discourage whispering; it destroys trust
  • Be honest
  • Acknowledge the importance of work-group dynamics
  • Create an atmosphere of openness to communicate new ideas and challenges
  • Respect the need for privacy and confidentiality
  • Give timely feedback to co-workers, both positive and negative, rather than going around them and speaking to their boss

Leader’s Behaviours

  • Get to know people that you work with on a personal level
  • Communicate after meetings telling folks what happen/talked about
  • Discuss ideas openly
  • Listen to ideas
  • Share information with everybody
  • Depend on everyone to contribute
  • Have social time away from the job site to get to know one another
  • Establish a sense of ownership
  • Flex work hours during business and lunch
  • Minimize follow-up
  • Recognize publicly
  • Give approval
  • Value diversity
  • Reward diversity
  • Allow discussion with judgment
  • Be informed about what’s going on in our department and Company
  • Make it OK to express any opinion — no “wrong” ideas
  • Encourage an open-door policy
  • NEVER violate a trust
  • Try to spend some time with co-workers outside the work hours
  • Remove any hidden agendas (they are usually transparent anyway)

Organization’s Behaviours

  • Share information with all employees
  • Have social time away from the job site to get to know one another in a less threatening environment (off-site). Company picnics, holiday parties, and include the families
  • Enjoy your fellow co-worker-workers, enjoy your job, and feel an openness to communicate new ideas and challenges
  • Establish athletic leagues or sponsor company teams



  • Get the people who disagree together to talk it out with no consequences
  • Support an environment of mutual respect
  • Work as a team
  • Overlook the little things
  • Openly discuss conflicts with those involved, keep others informed. Keep communication open
  • Establish a direction and goals
  • Don’t be a third party to a conflict
  • Listen, don’t discount ideas
  • Be honest
  • Don’t belittle or speak condescendingly
  • Invite peer to lunch or, when sharing information, include all Department members
  • Go for it
  • Focus on the process
  • Invite a neutral 3rd party to keep emotions manageable
  • Bring in a facilitator for team meetings and/or for 1 on 1 conflicts
  • Use conflict to stimulate problem-solving as part of team process
  • Establish common principles by consensus — make decisions based on those principles


  • Eliminate competition
  • Don’t reward the individual, reward the team
  • Have people talk with each other
  • Don’t be a third party to a conflict
  • Listen, don’t discount ideas
  • Establish common goals
  • Attend group seminar on communication



  • Feel free to challenge one another’s ideas because you have worked together for a while; group feels comfortable with one another; they have trust
  • Agree to disagree
  • Listen to everyone’s opinions
  • Be open-minded / allow people to recognize, evaluate and re-apply ideas and/or proven techniques
  • Have an agreement that everything said is confidential
  • Tell everyone that “It’s okay to agree to disagree”
  • Have thick hides
  • Don’t pre-judge
  • Don’t take things personally — use humour as a stress breaker
  • Do not start with the right vs. wrong paradigm. This is a real idea killer or stifler
  • Suspend judgment as long as possible
  • “Pushing back” is allowed and encouraged when appropriate. If nothing else, learning occurs!
  • Use tools like ALU, PIN, or PPM to critique ideas. They all focus on the positive first


  • Set up ground rules for debates
  • Make sure everyone has a chance to speak and be heard
  • Play “Devil’s Advocate”
  • Bring together divergent perspectives to generate thought.
  • Interactive teamwork planning activities
  • Discuss the pros and cons of new ideas with open discussion
  • Allow time in meetings to digress from subject to build team effectiveness
  • Team meetings
  • Multi-functional group meetings
  • Set up ground rules for debates
  • Allow debates. but ensure they are focused on the question at hand, and free from any additional (personal?) conflicts that may spur the debate further or in a direction away from the original question. If discussing a problem, perhaps display pros and cons for all to see, and solicit input from the group on each point.
  • Play “Devil’s Advocate” and challenge each statement to encourage more thought and possible counter-ideas from others in the group. Insist that groups talk to each other, not to one person in the room.


  • Bring together divergent perspectives to generate thought.
  • Hold interactive teamwork planning activities
  • Discuss the pros and cons of new ideas with open discussion
  • Ensure an open environment



  • Keep a positive attitude
  • Remember we have just one life to live


  • Expect a positive attitude
  • Appreciate ideas
  • Use teamwork
  • Discourage conformity; encourage individualism.
  • Clarify that PERFORMANCE IS PERFORMANCE (quality/quantity of the work accomplished should be the sole criteria for management)
  • Have specified celebrations (anniversaries, birthdays, etc.), but also impromptu
  • Instil a feeling of camaraderie in the group


  • Encourage team action, everyone pitching in on a project
  • Provide inspiring materials



  • Stay relaxed during stressful situations
  • Bring toys to work
  • Use humour
  • Incorporate playful areas with posters or fun things
  • Read inspiring materials
  • Eliminate drudgery — put fun into the workplace by reducing stress and rigidity
  • Create a different “work?” atmosphere — redefine work
  • Talk about things that are not business
  • Use one-liners to open conversations — lighten the mood
  • Socialize together, lunch, etc.
  • Allow people to be who they are
  • Practice enthusiastic behaviour
  • Get “team” tattoos for team members when on an out-of-town trip
  • Share cartoons / Post a cartoon of the week
  • Tell jokes / Share jokes
  • Change business stereotype, loosen up
  • Practice the creativity that management preaches
  • Encourage laughter


  • Plan off-sites
  • Talk about things that are not business
  • Know that when people are laughing they are also working
  • Appreciate the use of humour
  • Practice enthusiastic behaviour
  • Celebrate birthdays at the office
  • Have Department events
  • Laugh to promote relaxation which creates creativity


  • Don’t suppress it, let it happen naturally



  • Empower yourself


  • Allow others to work independently
  • Delegate open-ended problems when appropriate
  • Encourage stretch
  • Go beyond everyday responsibilities
  • Lessen review of work
  • Let them do the job and not check-up
  • Allow “owner” to work details when given the goal, don’t ask for play-by-play
  • Give freedom to manage own business
  • Empower others
  • Allow people to come out of the box
  • Encourage individuality in expression
  • Allow people to make own decisions
  • Ask the employee about what the challenge is and what to do vs. answering to go execute
  • Define the result, not the path
  • Give broad outlines and outcomes, let individual or team define the process
  • Incorporate more TQ principles in work environment
  • Drive out fear
  • Focus on the outcome, not the method
  • Eliminate micro-management
  • Determine points for review, then allow the freedom to perform as desired
  • Create a comfortable atmosphere (relaxed dress codes and office decorations)


  • Tolerate open-ended problems
  • Give freedom to manage own business
  • Have your daily responsibilities handled by someone else
  • incorporate more TQ principles in work environment



  • Identify resources who have done this before in similar circumstances
  • Generates ideas to reapply
  • Walk and talk with others at work
  • Set aside specific time for ideas during the week — commit to it
  • Integrate it into other activities, like driving
  • Take 15 minutes to focus on a specific idea
  • Establish a goal as “something to make me laugh”
  • Spend time alone in an environment you like to stir up ideas


  • Brainstorm as a team
  • Have regular section meetings to discuss projects arid share ideas
  • Plan time-out off-site to generate ideas without evaluation
  • Appreciate some daydream time; gears are whirling behind the blank stare
  • Informal team conversations — no evaluation
  • Set aside some time to go to lunch together
  • Allow working at home
  • Allow for team meetings, committee meetings to share new ideas (brainstorming)
  • Have a team session at the “Idea Lab” at SWIG (or HCRC)
  • Create enough breathing room from daily work to be creative
  • Set aside an hour or two each week to research and discuss new ideas or how other companies are accomplishing their goals
  • Backup for people when they are off-site or at conferences or seminars (idea time)
  • Applaud the blank stare


  • Hold team brainstorming sessions that allow individuals to spend time developing new ideas
  • Provide sufficient resources



  • Defer judgment
  • Agree on issues, methods, and ideas
  • When listening to an idea, build on the idea, suggesting ways to improve, expand
  • Put up the problem on a common wall and have everyone around put up suggestions on the paper, post-its, etc. Keep issue up for 3-4 days
  • Send folks to functional/non-functional outside seminars and conferences
  • Encourage people to build on other’s ideas
  • Ask leaders for what is needed from them to develop an idea


  • Recognize that employees are people
  • Encourage to pursue an idea
  • Listen to all ideas, don’t eliminate any
  • Offer encouragement for ideas and plans
  • Appreciate suggestions and consider them carefully
  • Say “Thank you” often
  • Look at the idea right away, do no just shove it aside
  • Offer new projects with new tools
  • Ask people to write up their idea in a report
  • Comment on a “good job”
  • Establish concurrence
  • Listen
  • Set up routine meetings to share ideas and share personal things — format for getting help and support for ideas of all members of the group
  • Review project with the supervisor, he/she “asks”: “What other approaches might work?” “Have you considered. .?” “How else can this be done?” “What kind of support do you need?”
  • Listen to an idea, build on the idea, suggesting ways to improve, expand
  • Provide the freedom to develop a plan to resolve a problem
  • Say “That was a great idea” or that I “…did a really good job.”
  • Recognize hard work and effort
  • Share ideas in a team setting which allows discussion without judgment
  • Create a non-evaluative E-mail conference for idea generation
  • Have an idea room for idea generation
  • Encourage a synergy that often is not realized because management does not take/have time to coach, critique or add to ideas. Ideas often die on the vine because they do not receive the necessary initial nurturing
  • Ask “How can I help you achieve your goals?”
  • Ask for people’s opinion, make them feel valued
  • Knockdown barriers that employees can’t conquer
  • Maintain a genuine openness for new ideas, but insist they be well thought out. Listen attentively and thoroughly, and give them full consideration until they are accepted, or circumstances divulge their faults
  • Set up an award system for those ideas that benefit the organization the most. Recognition should be public. If an idea isn’t used, explain why and encourage more


  • Provide sufficient resources
    • Provide an environment conducive to creativity such as “idea labs”
    • Organize E-mail conference for brainstorming
  • Permit off-sites, outside seminars, and conferences



  • Look to make changes that no one else has
  • Force yourself to be creative to get a heavy workload done
  • Find ways to improve


  • Build self-esteem
  • Give responsibility
  • Challenge others to make something happen
  • Give visible, interesting opportunities
  • Impose a deadline to meet
  • Assign a special project
  • Give a broadening responsibility, something never done before
  • Stretch goals
  • Benchmark
  • Establish best in class objectives
  • Make performance targets known to all
  • Encourage competitive goals ( the most, the biggest, the weirdest)
  • Set aside time for implementation and management buy-in
  • Don’t offer the solution–offer the opportunity
  • Say “Yes, you can!”
  • Graphically depict goals in a public area — mark progress


  • Permit individual schedule and flex time
  • Use review time for the positive feedback and constructive criticism

Interdisciplinary Insight Effects on Invention and Innovation

When designing creative environments it’s also important to think about the cross functionality of the individuals involved. Franz Johansson, in his book “The Medici Effect”, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, 2006, pointed out the degree to which interdisciplinary insight can create truly unique inventions and innovations. His premise on creativity was that in order for something to be really creative, it must be new and valuable. It also needs to be done in an innovative environment because the creative idea has to become realized. The three elements: new, valuable, and realized, are the foundation for his work. His book gives numerous examples of worthy intersectional ideas.

Franz makes the distinction between two types of ideas. In R&D parlance we normally think of things being either incremental or revolutionary. Franz looks at them as an “idea direction”. One is a directional innovation that improves a product in fairly predictable steps along a well-defined dimension. Intersectional innovations, as Franz defines them, are radical and they change the world in leaps along new directions. They usually pave the way for a new business model or new product. Characteristics of these ideas are that they are surprising, fascinating, represent leaps, open up entirely new fields, generate followers, are a resource or directional innovation that follows them, and affect the world in unprecedented ways. Building project teams with interdisciplinary, trained individuals clearly improves the chance that you’ll end up with a radical or breakthrough idea.

When one joins an organization from college, or when one transfers from one company to another, it isn’t always immediately obvious what the behavioral norm for creativity is within your new organization. Work done by Battelle Pacific Northwestern Laboratories surveyed in the extent to which companies build project teams and train them in creative endeavors. In this survey they found an even split between companies that did, and did not, provide team training or teambuilding specifically for cross functional product development or engineering teams.
Not surprisingly, some inventive environments are negative. An anonymous quote is “the amount a person uses his imagination is inversely proportional to the amount of punishment he will receive for using it”. Teresa Amabile, then at the Department of psychology at Brandeis University, studied the effects of downsizing in the work environment upon creativity and innovation. Not surprising downsizing study found an overall negative impact on the work environment and creativity. A specific finding of interest was that the negative effects may be due more to the instability of a person’s own group and the anticipated downsizing than the actual downsizing event itself. Those organizations wishing to maintain a creative innovation and inventive environment should keep working groups intact and move a downsizing event forward quickly.

The world is clearly moving forward in its understanding and invention and innovation. The tools and techniques for helping an individual or group improve their performance in these areas are becoming well known, but not always practiced. Many companies today still do not employ the best-practices to create and sustain innovative environments.

Future Pathways of Innovation

Work done at the Industrial Research Institute around 2012 found that three roads to innovation are likely to continue to evolve. They are:

  1. A Community of Minds. Many organizations will choose to directly connect their brains together in a community in which the network runs project management.
  2. Innovation Tribes. Another path is to intentionally form insular communities to work in secrecy and prevent outsiders from obtaining their intellectual property.
  3. Hollywood R&D. Many corporations will travel a third path to maximize creativity and minimize risk by adopting a model similar to Hollywood movie studios, where a small production team manages a large pool of freelance talent.

The three pathways will be driven primarily by: (1) the advent of the virtual workforce and laboratories. Researchers and managers for particular projects may be spread across the globe, meeting online in virtual laboratory and meeting spaces. (2) Also driving these three scenarios is freelance R&D. Many of the best project researchers will be freelancers, working contractually with many different companies. (3) Finally from a content standpoint, biotech, nanotech, and the Internet of Things will begin to dramatically impact the business sector, becoming major engines of innovative products for consumers.

The three pathways for the future of R&D will first be segmented by system dynamics differences. In these systems individuals will be networked with intentionality. Projects would start organizing by themselves with help of artificial intelligence and the member will replace the individual. Another part of the systems dynamics will be the use of augmented humans. The deciding factors of which pathway a company would use is whether they favor open versus closed networks, and whether the organization and researchers view themselves as (a) a leader, (b) a collaborative partner, (c) or a node in a network.

After system dynamics differences, the three pathways for the future of R&D will be segmented according to their values. The two primary segmentation axes in this regard are those of identity and trust. This is because each of the pathways is an expression of different approaches to trust and identity. In the Hollywood model, trust is gained through contracts and personal connections. Identity is tied to industry success. In a community of minds, trust is developed by the nature of the network everyone connects to, and identity is subsumed to the network. Innovation tribes gain trust by intentionally choosing a small group of people who rely on each other for success in work and life. They identify first to their tribe, then as individuals.

These approaches to trust and value influence leadership and decision-making. In the Hollywood model, power is decentralized to independent project manager “producers” so that that the overall company can defray risk by running multiple projects that are not encumbered by the slow speed of decision-making from company executives. In a community of minds, network intentionality trumps individual will, as people become nodes in a larger consciousness. For innovation tribes, decisions are often democratic and power is derived from elder status and the ability to persuade. Successful innovation can be found in all three pathways, but the pathway scenarios pose questions for RD professionals on how they will react to challenges of trust and identity in the future.

The implications derived from these three possible future roads to innovation fall into four areas: Project management, portfolio management, talent management, and the value proposition. Overall managers will need to have a facility for managing software and people. Simulation and artificial intelligence / expert systems will free up managers from day-to-day project oversight, but the time saved will be taken up by the requirement of cultivating a network of external talent that can be assembled for projects as they are commissioned.

Project Management. Stage gates and agile/lean do not disappear, but become automated and their numbers reduced by using simulations to better map projects’ progress. Managers concentrate on being more collaborative and integrated with the rest of the organization’s community rather than the day-to-day project management that is handled by intelligent software. Assembling and managing team capabilities is also critical.

Portfolio Management. The need to articulate what company is looking for is critical in managing the company’s portfolio. Requirements management is needed to create architectures that are more responsive across a portfolio. Managers will be handling many very different types of projects, from highly open crowd source models to tightly controlled internal programs with trade secrets. Managing the flow of information differently for each project to maximize creativity and protect trade secrets will be a key source of innovation advantage.

Talent Management. Managers will need to spend a lot of time influencing and cultivating the community of talent available so that teams can be assembled from the freelance workforce quickly. Researchers will need to be lifelong learners, continually engaging in a competency-based credentialing to be desirable for new projects. Speed and accuracy of assembling the right team will also mean using simulation. As software moves into talent and project management, researchers will need to develop an ability to manage or be managed by artificial intelligences / expert systems. This will include the need to maximize human creativity in a world of automation.

The Value Proposition. R&D will deliver value to companies by identifying future customer needs and picking the best research model to solve for those needs. Companies will value speed to market and strong evidence of demand, so the use of prototypes and fast feedback warming projects will get taken all the way to market before being handed over to marketing and sales. Stage-gate will give way to agile / lean methodologies for most industries.

Sources, References and Selected Bibliographic Information

1. “The Medici Effect”, by Frans Johansson, Harvard Business School Press, 2006.
2. “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”, by Thomas Kuhn, University of Chicago Press, 1996.
3. “The Age of Unreason”, by Charles Handy, Harvard Business School Press, 1990.
4. “Effect of Directed Invention and Ideation”, Ideation International Inc., http://www.ideationtriz.com
5. “Behaviors to Stimulate a Climate for Creativity – Risk Taking”, by Mary Wallgren, Survey results from CPS Workshop participants and IHRM members, Oct 1995.
6. “3 Roads to Innovation”, Workshop by Industrial Research Institute, May 2012.
7. “Basic Research at DuPont”, by Joseph Miller, Chemtech, April 1997.