MIT Sloan Management Review had an interesting article Playing Well With Others about communication between R&D and marketing:
The Situation: Different priorities and ways of thinking often create gaps in understanding between marketing and research-and-development staff.
The Problem: Such gaps often mean that one side dominates the development of new products, giving short shrift to the other. When marketing dominates, R&D can be under too much pressure to hit on breakthrough ideas. When R&D dominates, new products can lack marketable strengths.
Effective communication is very important in R&D environment. In fact, some amount of questioning and skepticism is absolutely essential to scientific / engineering progress and to innovation. However, when two different departments like marketing and R&D are involved, effective communication becomes more difficult and essential. The article suggests:
The Solution: Companies should help both sides learn to appreciate each other’s strengths, and encourage them to work closely together at the earliest stages of product development.
- Make sure everybody recognizes the value that each department brings to the process—and how one side complements the other.
- If one department or the other is dominating a company’s process for developing new products, bring the two more into balance.
- Have the two sides speak a common language.
- Get out of your silos—up to a point.
- Focus on the consumer.