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|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|13430||2004||26 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, Volume 21, Issue 4, December 2004, Pages 281–306
The accelerating pace of change in science and technology has resulted in new attention to the process of identifying and developing ideas that ultimately lead to new scientific capabilities and business opportunities for an organization. The need to refresh research programs and capabilities is as important in federally funded research institutions as it is for industry. This paper explores the critical success factors for new initiatives at a federal laboratory, and building on lessons learned through this study and in private industry, identifies a more systematic process that could potentially improve the effectiveness of these initiatives in achieving results.
New ideas in science and technology are the lifeblood of a research organization. The need to foster growth, innovation and diversification of products, technology platforms, and entire business units to maintain competitive advantage is increasingly important for companies. It is equally important for publicly funded research institutions, with a responsibility to advance fundamental scientific discovery and to find ways to utilize those discoveries to address major national challenges. The accelerating pace of change in science and technology today and the emergence of breakthroughs at the interface of various disciplines have resulted in new attention to the process of identifying and developing ideas that ultimately lead to new scientific capabilities and business opportunities for an organization. Much of the current research in technology innovation is focused on the efficiency of moving ideas from research to the commercial marketplace. Conceptualizing new products or technology platforms and linking them to potential markets are important aspects of successful innovation. An equally important element, however, and one that is not well understood, is how companies identify and foster the development of new focus areas for scientific research or technology development. This early stage of idea generation, before a product concept has evolved, has been called the “fuzzy front end” of innovation.1 Successful organizations are always generating new ideas—getting those ideas translated into program concepts that can be supported and funded by management, however, remains a challenge. The art of idea generation and development requires a supportive environment and a culture of discovery and innovation. Companies such as 3M are well known for their approach to encouraging research staff to explore new ideas. National laboratories in the U.S. also have a strong tradition of individual scientists developing new ideas for the next stage of their research or to explore a specific scientific question. Yet, the process of developing new organizational capabilities and major research programs that transcend individual interests remains a challenge. Understanding how best to evaluate and choose the directions for investment in new ideas, and then finding effective ways to accelerate the path to results is a challenge shared by public and private research organizations alike. 1.1. The importance of publicly funded science The federal government has traditionally had a strong role in the U.S. research enterprise, providing at times as much as 67% of the total R&D funding for the nation (National Science Board, 2000).2 As the nation's investment in R&D has grown over the last decades, however, industry has played an increasingly important role. According to the most recent publication from the National Science Board (2000), most of the R&D performed in the U.S. is currently paid for by private industry, which provided over 65% of the total R&D funding in 1998 (almost $150 billion). This support is provided during a time when the total level of R&D expenditures in the U.S. has been increasing since 1994 at a rate of almost 6% real growth per year. The role of industry in funding R&D is now greater than that of the U.S. government and is projected to remain so in the coming years. The federal government remains the major contributor to fundamental or basic research, however, with over 50% of the total national investment (National Science Board, 2000). Industry investments are primarily directed at the development of specific products and services to meet the needs of their existing and anticipated future markets. Their focus is principally on the “D” of R&D, taking basic science discoveries made in national laboratories and universities (although some companies still maintain a small, focused basic research enterprise) through the processes of development and commercialization. This major federal investment in basic science has been a significant factor in fueling many of the innovations and industries on which the growth of our economy in the last decades has been based (Crow and Bozeman, 1998). 1.2. Achieving results in a research environment Both public and private research organizations are facing new pressures for productivity and performance. After years of being somewhat protected from financial measures, research organizations now feel the same need as business units to ensure that major investments in new research programs or exploratory ideas achieve significant returns. The terms “return on investment” and “payback” have reached both public and private research organizations and are increasingly used in making decisions on new program funding. The Government Performance Results Act of 1993 initiated a process whereby all agencies, including those engaged in fundamental scientific research, are required to define specific performance measures and outcomes on which to be measured. Work is actively underway to develop appropriate measures for science and technology activities (Jaffe, 1999). Proactive management of the innovation process has demonstrated the ability to increase the effectiveness of the process for new product development, and improve the rate of successful product launch (Cooper and Kleinschmidt, 1986). Research organizations are now exploring new approaches to help them maximize the returns from investments in exploratory ideas at earlier stages of the idea generation and development process and related product development cycles. Understanding the process of translating early stage ideas into viable development concepts and the factors important to ultimate success is the focus of this paper. Investments in major capabilities or program development that can significantly affect future directions of a research laboratory, but that are not yet fully formulated as specific product offerings or program concepts, are termed “initiatives” for the purpose of this analysis. Initiatives provide an important avenue for exploring innovative ideas that can strengthen a laboratory's scientific and technical capabilities and/or lead to new business opportunities. These internal investments provide support for new ideas and concepts that have scientific or technical merit, but may be ahead of the market, in terms of their ability to garner programmatic funding or external investment. This paper specifically explores the approaches used to develop initiatives within a federally funded research organization, and evaluates the critical factors for success. The results of this preliminary analysis lead to a recommended framework for use with future initiatives to improve the effectiveness of the process.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The focus of this study was to evaluate the current process for the early stages of developing new capabilities and programs in a publicly funded R&D laboratory context to determine the potential importance of key success factors and the application for tools and processes developed in industrial settings. The results of this initial set of case studies suggest that the four primary success factors identified for industrial concept development processes (understanding trends in science and technology; clarity around market targets and needs; strategic alignment; and leadership/culture) have equal importance in a public R&D context. In addition, this study points out the importance of addressing these factors early in the life cycle of an initiative. This suggests that the conceptual framework of a stage-gate approach, which is primarily used in the new product development cycle in many industrial organizations, can also be effectively applied to the initiative process in publicly funded R&D organizations. As shown in Fig. 3 below, an initiative proceeds through several stages of development. Understanding this cycle and identifying at what stage key activities need to happen could significantly accelerate the progress of early stage idea development. Each initiative in this study conducted activities to evaluate an initial idea and refine the concept, with continued development and focusing throughout the timeline of the initiative. Initiatives that conducted these processes in a more disciplined way, with systematic tools and a clear understanding about their stage of development and the level of detail required, were able to more effectively meet their goals. Without a process framework and a consistent set of tools, however, initiative teams had to identify and select analysis techniques and engaged in some duplicate analysis. They often found themselves re-evaluating their initial concepts, which slowed the progress of the team, and in some cases hurt morale. In addition to being clear about the development process, the investments in an initiative should be more closely tied to the achievement of explicitly stated goals at each stage. For instance, investment in scientific capability development should only follow a clear definition of the appropriate direction, based on an understanding of S&T trends, defined gaps in existing capabilities and targeted to clearly identified market needs. Publicly funded R&D organizations can benefit from incorporating other elements of a stage-gate philosophy to the development of major S&T initiatives. One important premise behind a clearly defined, but flexible approach is that ideas and initiatives do not necessarily develop according to a fiscal calendar year but rather at a pace determined by the scope of the endeavor, the information and resources available to it, and a number of other internal and external factors. A systematic approach to planning requires allocating resources and defining objectives, outcomes, and performance measures in a way that reflect where the idea or initiative is in its lifecycle, as opposed to where it is at the end of the fiscal year. At the same time, each initiative will have opportunities to accelerate their progress toward desired outcomes. The implementation of a modified initiative performance assessment system, tailored to fit the organization's culture and management expectations, is ultimately critical to the success of a new approach. Financial resources need to be allocated in a way that is consistent with the initiative lifecycle. This requires valuing and financing initiatives in stages. Investments would be ramped up in each subsequent stage at a level commensurate with the value of activities that need to be accomplished. This can be challenging for public organizations that receive budgets on an annual basis, resulting in a more periodic than phased approach to resource allocation. Implementing a phased approach will require a significant shift in the mindset of those who allocate and request financial resources for initiatives. Performance evaluation should be based on a staged approach. “Go,” “no go,” “hold,” and “recycle” decision points are built into the process between initiative stages (e.g. idea selection, proof of concept) and at other points deemed appropriate. These critical decisions should involve both senior-level decision makers and initiative representatives. They should ideally be evaluated for both the individual merits of the initiative and their fit within the context of the Laboratory's broader initiative portfolio. To facilitate evaluation, both expected outcomes and performance measures should be clearly defined for each stage. Performance measures need to include both leading and lagging indicators and draw from a mix of investment/input, financial, commercial/business, bibliometric, patent, peer review, and organizational/managerial/strategy metrics. As pointed out by Miller and Morris (1999), financial metrics and outcomes in the early stages of initiatives, particularly with initiatives that target new markets and new capabilities or discontinuous technologies, may not be helpful. Instead, early performance measures might be procedural in nature. Procedural or intermediate outputs (e.g. established relationship with potential client) are often a necessary and time-consuming precursor to achieving more tangible, longer-term outcomes (e.g. met $5 million sales target). Emphasizing procedural metrics and outputs early on and longer-term metrics and outcomes later in the lifecycle, along with clearly defined decision points, helps to manage expectations both of those performing the work and those evaluating the initiative's investment potential. Measurement of return on investment and expectations of results on accelerated timelines are no longer the sole province of industrial research organizations. Publicly funded research organizations are increasingly required to think about how to build new capabilities and programs in a more cost-effective way, and on shorter timelines. Our evaluation of the initiative process in this study suggests that applying elements of lessons learned from industry to the process for generating ideas, exploring concepts and managing longer-term, Laboratory-level initiatives can help future initiative leaders and teams to more effectively achieve results that support strategic objectives. Ultimately, each team must be able to accommodate the specific needs of their particular market and investment goals, but would have a “roadmap” for better understanding where they are in the development process and access to a related set of tools to support their activities. Ideally, a modified, more systematic approach will provide a smarter, more flexible framework that incorporates the best practices and critical success factors acknowledged by past initiative participants while building on the emerging experience from industrial research laboratories in developing early stage ideas to program or product concepts. We believe a general framework for developing ideas and initiatives, along with a set of related processes and tools can significantly enhance the performance of initiative teams.