Road to CommercializationWhat more natural a subject to first talk about than leadership, both personal and organizational. Everything flows from the top; this is true for our own lives and for the life of an organization.

Simply, a leader leads where others will follow. A leader creates a vision, and aligns colleagues’ input to build a strategy to go forward. Tactics and operational goals follow.

Just the same for innovation environments, whether they be mature research departments or venturesome headshops. The strategy and tactics can be program-, project-, or goal-based.

The leader understands a necessity that needs to be satisfied, and creates a path to fulfill that necessity. The necessity could be a customer need, client need, process need, a change, or technological fix.

A leader sets up an environment where folks can flourish. Guidelines and mutually understood values pervade the environment rather than rules and unwritten rules. Otherwise, the motivating factors, such as educated risk taking, that foster creativity become evasive and the shop atrophies.

Staffing a research team is like building a puzzle, where each puzzle piece represents a different discipline to construct the research picture. Doing it right requires thought and gut instinct and a good understanding of the needs and goals of the operation. Once staffed, if every member of a research team is viewed as critical and contributing, then turfiness, zero sum gain attitudes and intra-competitive behaviors are naturally kept to a minimum. Overstaffing often leads to the demise of a creative atmosphere, and reorganization typically results in the formation of a new research team.

Each of the points above will be discuss at length in future postings. At this time, …on the vanguard hopes to provide heuristic topics worth your comment and advise.

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