Is ‘inventoritis’ an impediment to innovation?

Linda Naiman, founder of Creativity at Work and author of an e-newsletter by the same name, recently launched a blog. It contains a guest article, written by Peter P. Roosen and Tatsuya Nakagawa, that attempts to explain why organizations have such a poor return on their R+D investments. They call this phenonenon "inventoritis."

Linda Naiman, founder of Creativity at Work and author of an e-newsletter by the same name, recently launched a blog. It contains a guest article, written by Peter P. Roosen and Tatsuya Nakagawa, that attempts to explain why organizations have such a poor return on their R&D investments. They call this phenonenon “inventoritis.”

Their theory is that inventors tend to bring a considerable amount of psychological baggage along with their inventions, which hinders the process of commercializing them.

“These individuals often lack expertise in marketing, sales and business in general while having unreasonably high expectations of the value of their product or idea while grossly underestimating what it takes to get to a successful commercial outcome.

The typical result is the product or idea does not reach the market and the often impoverished inventor casts the blame upon others including engineers, lawyers, financiers, managers or any other professionals who would challenge or question the assumption the product or idea is an excellent one.”

One way that this tends to manifest itself is that the inventor (and sometimes the company he or she works for, too!) falls in love with an idea or a promising technology, and invests a significant amount of time and money into its development - but doesn’t spend adequate time conducting research to determine the scope of the potential market, whether or not the new product is likely to create a significant competitive advantage, and what it’s likely to cost in order to promote and sell it.

To solve this problem, the authors recommend “building bridges” between marketing and engineering, to help ensure that R&D activities are operating in parallel with the organization’s understanding of customer needs and wants, and the firm’s overall strategic direction.

This is a very interesting blog post, and hopefully is a harbinger of more great stuff to come from this new blog.

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