A New IRI for the Future of Innovation

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.

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Navigating the Digitalization of R&D

By Jim Euchner, VP, Global Innovation, Goodyear; Editor-in-Chief, Research-Technology Management (RTM)

“Well something’s lost, but something’s gained In living every day.”

—Joni Mitchell, “Both Sides Now”

This is an optimistic issue. In it, you will read about a wide variety of ways in which digitalization will improve the practice of R&D. Ted Farrington, in his summary article, “On the Impact of Digitalization on R&D,” gives a broad view of the changes we will see. He looks at the three major trends discussed in this issue—virtual experimentation and simulation, digital collaboration, and big data—through the lens of the four scenarios for the future explored in the IRI2038 program. His introduction to the issue makes clear not only that much is possible, but also that there are many harbingers of the future in what we see happening today.

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The 4 Rules for Success with Global Teams

By Greg Holden, Business Writer and Social Media Manager, IRI

Technology lets us do amazing things. Where once a research and development (R&D) team needed to be located in the same facility in order to collaborate, today, the sight of engineers collaborating with globally distributed coworkers via IT tools is quite common. But this dispersion of staff poses challenges of its own. For instance, when you have yet to meet one of your co-workers in person, how do you develop trust with her? When you share an office space it’s easy to casually pass along concerns, observations, insights, or interesting findings to your colleagues around a water cooler. Is it possible to replicate this with global teams? Not really. So communication is dampened on a global team. Based on research at the Industrial Research Institute (IRI), these challenges have been studied and some general rules about building a successful global team have been laid out. Continue reading

How to Get More (and Better) Crowdsource Competitions Participants

By Greg Holden, Business Writer & Social Media Manager, IRI

Let’s face it, the number of crowdsource competitions blooming into existence these days is staggering; almost too many to choose from. This is normal, of course, for any research practice that proves itself an effective method for solving problems quickly. But there’s a downside: with so many competitions to choose from, people who would normally participate in many competitions will, over time, become more selective. Why should they choose yours?

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What I Learned About Hiring Top Technical Talent

By Igor M. Sill, Managing Director of Geneva Venture Management and Geneva Venture Partners

The ability to recruit exceptionally talented and capable management leaders is possibly the purest form of exceptional entrepreneurship and the key to organizational success. The correlation between today’s most successful technology companies and their executive team is clearly the founder’s ability to hire world-class leadership and management.

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Understanding the People You Manage

By Michael Maccoby, President, The Maccoby Group

A large part of your job as a research/technology manager is understanding people, not just evaluating how well they have performed. Evaluation is the easy part; much harder is predicting how people will perform in new roles.

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Failing Brilliantly

By Greg Holden, Business Writer & Social Media Manager, IRI

The mantra “fail fast, fail often” has almost become cliché in industry, yet it is a concept that innovation leaders still struggle to implement effectively at their firms. It is not hard to see why. Failure is difficult for everyone, even when they are told it’s no big deal. Tony Singarayar, Founding Partner of Analogy Partners, LLC, touched on this during a panel discussion at an IRI meeting when he spoke about the problems that can arise when innovation leaders get moved up from a research position to a management role. He said, “What’s the cost of failing? Even though the company says, ‘Oh, fail fast, fail often. No problem. You’re an investment not a failure.’ It feels like a failure when you fail… so how do we really make these people feel like investments and not failures?”

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An Innovation Career

By Jim Euchner, VP, Global Innovation, Goodyear; Editor-in-Chief, Research-Technology Management (RTM)

“If you’re in permanent beta in your career, twenty years of experience actually is twenty years of experience because each year will be marked by new, enriching challenges and opportunities.”

―Reid Hoffman, The Startup of You

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Fun and Challenge

By Jim Euchner, VP of Global Innovation, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., RTM Editor-in-Chief

My grandfather was an inventor. He worked at Kodak during its golden years, where he invented a variety of still camera devices, including an early stereo-imaging camera. When I got to know him, he was already retired, but he was still inventing. I remember, in particular, a sundial he designed and built that was precisely engineered to give the proper time in Peterborough, New Hampshire. I recall checking the time on it one sunny summer day and finding that it was correct. This desire of my grandfather to make such a device was interesting to me, and a little strange. Where had this obsession come from? I had not yet come to know the mind of an inventor.

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4 Reasons to Attend IRI’s 2017 Annual Meeting in Person

Conferences offer an opportunity to learn many things you otherwise wouldn’t learn. They do this simply by exposing you to ideas and people you might not otherwise interact with but which may share things in common with your line of work. Most conferences focus on a particular industry or specific trade within an industry. The Industrial Research Institute (IRI) is different. Where most associations or societies address the issues of a particular industry, IRI addresses the complex variety of issues associated with a job function that spans all industries: how to manage the research and development (R&D) function.

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