When R&D Leaders are a Threat to Innovation

When R&D Leaders are a Threat to InnovationI recently had a discussion with a senior innovation leader in a mid-size high-tech company. The guy turned out to be pretty skeptical on open innovation and although I agree that open innovation to some extent is hype, I was still somewhat ticked off by his mindset.

Personally, I do not have much reason to care about this. Business is picking up again and there is a growing demand for insights on open innovation. However, people without an open mind simply should not have senior innovation roles. An internal focused mind-set might have worked in the past, but leaders today need to be able to build a bridge between internal and external resources. This goes for all industries – from consumer goods companies to high-tech companies – and if you think this only applies to low-tech companies, you are in for a surprise.

One argument from the innovation leader was that “Yes R&D people might be more skeptical than the rest of the population, but we really need “proof of concept” before we raise our hands in naivety! That’s how you convince a scientist!”

This is fair enough and it might be OK with scientists, but it is definitely not OK with senior leaders. Leaders – in R&D and elsewhere – need to be able to detect shifts not only on technologies, but also on the processes of R&D and innovation. Not having an open mind on new ways of doing things is outright dangerous in the fast-paced business environment we all are a part of today.

Get into the new game or move out of your leadership positions – for the sake of your companies…

A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing

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Stefan LindegaardStefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation

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No Comments

  1. Rafael Favereau on May 25, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Don’t you think this picture (of this post) was used so many times already in this blog?

  2. Chris Molloy on August 16, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Open Innovation is coming for sure but this is (for many) Collaboration 3.0. Many larger R&D organisations are still struggling with Collaboration 2.0: that is actually managing the multitude of discrete collaborations they have established in the first wave of externalisation activity. Managing the data and IP and diversified (global) project governance are major pain points and need to be skills hard-learned in formerly integrated R&D organisations. I am starting to see pre-competitive collaboration around existing R&D assets as the crest of the next wave but the movement will never be as fast as anyone wants.

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