From R&D to \"Connect and Develop\"

(via) More than the sum of its parts by John Bessant: I am a bit late commenting this September 2004 column from the Financial Times. However it reminds me a report produced by the Institute For the Future called "Shape Shifting in the World of R&D" (I advise you to read it carefully). One of their claim was that social networks will support new R&D forms. That is also what the FT author states:

In the 21st century, innovation involves trying to deal with an extended and rapidly advancing scientific frontier, fragmenting markets, political uncertainties, regulatory instabilities and competitors who are increasingly coming from unexpected directions. The response has to be one of spreading the net wide and trying to make use of a broad set of knowledge signals. In other words, learning to manage innovation at a network level. (...) Even the largest and most established innovators are recognising this shift. Procter Gamble uses the phrase “Connect and Develop” to refer to what was previously called R&D, and every year spends about $2bn on this activity. The company has set itself the ambitious goal of sourcing much of its idea input from outside the company. As Nabil Sakkab, former senior vice-president of R&D at the company, commented recently: “The future of R&D is C&D - collaborative networks that are in touch with the 99 per cent of research that we don’t do ourselves. Procter Gamble plans to keep leading innovation and this strategy is crucial to our future growth.” Similar stories can be heard at other companies, including IBM, Cisco and Intel.

Why do I blog this? We have a interesting pattern here. I would like to think about the conclusion we should draw with regard to future R&D workers. That means learning how to network, a bit of PR and a lot of scouting (or either competitive intelligence) to know what's happening and who meeting to find solutions to one's (present/latent/future) problems. Carrying out R&D or research or something related with this means both producing knowledge AND giving some insights to others. That's exactly a feeling I have when I work with companies: they need insights that act as a framework for what they do. They don't have time and resources to conduct their own research (or at least not on all the issue they have), so they have to go seek it in the wild.