By Jim Euchner, VP of Global Innovation, Goodyear, and RTM Editor-in-Chief
A career in R&D is an interesting one. It offers the opportunity for continuous learning, the chance to work with interesting people, and the satisfaction of creating something new. Yet there are occupational hazards, as I am reminded each year during annual review season. Basically, I’ve learned, you can’t count on being rewarded for your contributions within an appraisal year—despite the almost Herculean efforts on the part of most of those in management to assure that rewards do match performance. Then, every once in a while, sometimes when you least expect it, the rewards do come.
By Ed Bernstein, President, Industrial Research Institute
Perhaps the most poorly understood aspect of innovation is the culture that enables (or inhibits) it within an organization. What element differentiates between companies who continually innovate and companies that simply cannot, despite their best efforts? Over the years, IRI’s practitioner-based journal, RTM, has printed several answers to this question and a review of this work approaches the best analysis.
What makes someone an innovator? Is it merely a creative individual with lots of ideas? Perhaps. Many will tell you, however, that creativity is only a part of the puzzle and ideas are innovative only if they lead to a practical application. Innovation, after all, is not just creatively thinking things up; it is acting on those ideas and creating something useful from them. Is an innovator someone who breaks down barriers, resists authority, and walks his or her own path? R&D rebels, mad scientists, skunk works, and R&D undergrounds all emerge because at some point this type of innovator is necessary. But such work and such people are often the exception not the rule. So what is it, what makes someone an innovator?