by Edward Bernstein, IRI president; published in RTM, Vol 60, 6
Five years ago, IRI celebrated its 75th anniversary by looking back over the accomplishments of the Institute and its members and envisioning what the next 75 years will bring. While much has changed in the field of innovation management over IRI’s lifespan, these shifts are modest compared to those that are coming. IRI is no stranger to change; in fact, we champion it by facilitating the incredible innovation endeavors of our members and by making smart pivots as an organization.
Through the decades, our organization has kept a steadfast focus on creating value that keeps pace with the continuously evolving needs of our members. The IRI of the 20th century focused on the leader of the central R&D laboratory; while the company was the unit of membership, our programs and services were geared toward providing value to the Chief Technology Officer. This value centered on the relationships developed at semiannual meetings held at top-tier venues. As R&D has become more distributed, IRI has evolved along with it, creating new ways to serve the new value creation units emerging in member companies. These new avenues included our networks, more open online content, and an increase in the number of complimentary registrations included with organizational memberships, to encourage broader participation in our network and ROR programs.
Now, our brand and the experience we offer need to catch up with that evolution, to communicate a cohesive vision that is relevant to the times and strategically mapped to how companies will realize growth into the 21st century. As we prepare to lead into the future, we know that the functions we support are more often referred to as innovation than as R&D—a permanent change that is more than semantic. Furthermore, the term industrial research, the core of our name, is anachronistic, belying our forward-thinking approach and creating a barrier to the organization’s adoption by “new economy” industries. For these reasons, the Industrial Research Institute is repositioning itself in the market with a new name: the Innovation Research Interchange. This change reflects our new value proposition, better defines the unique collaborative experiences we foster, and aligns with how our members achieve growth.
By Jim Euchner, VP, Global Innovation, Goodyear, and RTMEditor-in-Chief
This issue begins RTM’s 60th continuous year of publication. Originally called Research Management, it was founded as a journal by and for practitioners of research and development in order to share lessons learned and build best practices. The journal, renamed Research-Technology Management in the 1980s, has now served several generations of R&D and innovation leaders, and it will help executives and practitioners manage through many changes in the future.
Manufacturing and service industries are often seen as largely independent. Whether in national economies, business classifications, education, training, or employment, they tend to be thought of as separate. Indeed, the growing role of services in developed economies has been the topic of much discussion over the past decade or so. Yet manufacturers can offer services; in fact, they can, and increasingly do, base entire competitive strategies on service innovation—finding ways to rethink their offerings and replace one-time product sales with ongoing, value-creating relationships. This is the process of servitization; icons in this mode are companies such as Rolls-Royce Aerospace, with its Power-by-the-Hour model; Xerox, with its document management solutions; and Alstom, with its Train-Life services.
By Tamara Carleton, CEO and Founder, Innovation Leadership Board, LLC; William Cockayne, CEO and Founder, Lead|X; and, Yuriko Sawatani, Professor, Center for Leadership Strategy, Waseda University
Whether it’s open innovation, portfolio management, or customer-centered innovation, implementing any new innovation framework often means changing an organization’s culture. This special issue focuses on the underlying issues that frequently lead good initiatives to stumble: How do you change culture to support change?
Twenty years ago, Shoshana Zuboff published In the Age of the Smart Machine, a seminal work on the nature of automation. Her focus was on the capability of machines that automated work to also informate their environment, a term she coined. Informating is the generation of information as a by-product of an action. Zuboff observed that “the same systems that make it possible to automate office transactions also create a vast overview of an organization’s operations, with many levels of data coordinated and accessible for a variety of analytical efforts” (p. 9).
By Jim Euchner, Editor-in-Chief, Research-Technology Management Journal
“The medium is the message.”
– Marshall McLuhan
Marshall McLuhan theorized that every new technology (or medium) carries with it an implicit meaning, a set of implications that go beyond its direct, utilitarian purpose. The meaning of the technology plays out over time and shifts the ways that we think about and interact with the world. Thus, technology not only fills needs in today’s world, but also sows the seeds of new needs and desires.
By Greg Holden, Business Writer & Social Media Manager, IRI
By planning for a possible future, do we inevitably allow for that future to come true? Take one of the foresight scenarios from the IRI2038 Futures Project. It’s called “Africa Leapfrogs Developed Markets” and it anticipates a time, 25 years from now, when the African economy will accelerate in growth and dynamism beyond the developed world at present. How could this happen given what we see from the African continent today?
By Jim Euchner, VP of Global Innovation at Goodyear and Editor-in-Chief of Research-Technology Management (RTM)
“Any sufficiently new technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
—Arthur C. Clarke
Innovation is a magical thing. It transforms dross into gold, puts nature at our command, creates something new where there was once nothing. Throughout history, magicians (and charlatans) have used new technology to create illusions for delight and profit. An early use of the electromagnet, for example, was part of an act demonstrating the super-strength of a magician, who could lift an object that even a strongman could not budge. A dash of psychology, a dollop of sleight of hand, and a big dose of showmanship can turn even a simple technological effect into a powerful illusion.