Culture Models and Cycles

There is enormous variety in the attempts to manage these opportunities from both a technology and a business perspective. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. The prospects of success are better with an integrated approach, with success more probable when an integrated team addresses development issues.

It is also crucial to use management processes that are appropriate for the technology. Processes developed for mature products are rarely effective for emerging and new technologies. Despite the definition and control the scientific method brings, innovation remains a creative process. Outside of independent government-funded research centers and fewer still commercial centers, research centers strive to make their technology relevant to present and future problems.

On the one hand, few research and development organizations can afford to explore science and technology without an eye to its commercial potential. The potentially huge return on investment creates the business motivation to provide the resources for the exploration. The "best" of these ideas are those that are thought to have the best commercial potential. In theory, the best ideas get the necessary resources. On the other hand, not many businesses can afford the sustained investment required to examine the science and explore the technology that results in a successful product and the protective set of enabling intellectual property.

Accordingly, the business needs and the state of the technology have an entwined relationship.

In the technology-based community, conversation often centers on the technology, its promises, and its challenges. We often include the myriad possible applications as a validation of the effort. More often than not, the applications and eventual product are our dreams. We quietly acknowledge that these pursuits require different skills. The possibilities are, however, the stuff that fuels our imagination and motivates our investigations of science and new technology.

In parallel, the business community hopes to have the technology that will give it a sustainable, ethical advantage for its product in the marketplace. As business executives look toward the research and development community, while managing the profit and loss expectations of investors and owners, it is a challenge for them to nurture the technology, apply it, develop a product, and market it. Anyone that has managed or led technology from its R&D origins to a fully developed product knows that the process has a staggering amount and variety of variables.

The process can be reduced to two major stages: research and development and commercial enterprise.

The research and development stage has two major subcategories: science and technology. Science is the way we learn about the physical universe by applying the principles of the scientific method: observation, hypothesis, and testing. Technology is the application of the science to develop tools, techniques, materials, and systems.

The commercial enterprise stage has three major subcategories: application, product, and market. In the application phase, the technology is brought to bear to solve a customer problem. Product is the commodity that is for sale, and marketing identifies customers for those commodities.

The two major areasresearch and development and commercial enterpriseare cultures apart. They are separated by a gulf.

The gulf is the boundary for the two points of view: technology and business. The technical mind is trained to believe and follow the scientific method, and scientific truths and laws govern the process. The business mind is not very different, but there are vast market forces that cannot be controlled or isolated and can be serendipitous. It is those forces that determine the market value of an opportunity.

More often than not, the research and commercial enterprises exist as separate organizations. Only a few of the largest companies have resident R&D staff. Small, medium, and even some large companies often rely on outside sources for technology. Whether

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