When R&D Leaders Are a Threat to Innovation


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I 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…


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stefan Lindegaard
Stefan is an author, speaker, facilitator and consultant focusing on open innovation, social media tools and intrapreneurship.


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