Enemy Lurks in Briefings on Afghan War – PowerPoint

NY times had a quick little post on how PowerPoint can sometimes lead to meaningless briefings:  Enemy Lurks in Briefings on Afghan War – PowerPoint:

“The slide has since bounced around the Internet as an example of a military tool that has spun out of control. Like an insurgency, PowerPoint has crept into the daily lives of military commanders and reached the level of near obsession. The amount of time expended on PowerPoint, the Microsoft presentation program of computer-generated charts, graphs and bullet points, has made it a running joke in the Pentagon and in Iraq and Afghanistan. – Sent using Google Toolbar”

Another place where I have found PowerPoint to cause problems is project reviews.  Not only do R&D teams spend a significant amount of time developing review packages, but also the briefings tend to be so dense that it is rather difficult to identify and focus on issues of importance.  I am sometimes amazed that reviews actually are useful.  Templates can definitely help, but in the end, I am still looking for a meaningful solutions…

Need for cross-organization cross-cultural R&D management

A semiconductor industry focused article in Nikkei Electronics Asia (Semiconductors the Key to the “Green” Society : System-Level Optimization a Must) points out issues of increasing importance to R&D management: Cross-organizational Cross-Cultural R&D Management.

A number of environmentally sound products utilize devices such as solar cells, LED lighting and Li-ion rechargeable batteries, but these devices do not play the crucial roles. The electricity created by energy devices such as solar cells must be transmitted efficiently, and excess electricity stored in energy storage devices. Electricity must then be output from these storage devices without loss to energy-conserving devices for use. System-level performance optimization, linking all of these components without waste, is crucial.

R&D managers will face many new problems in this new environment where many of the “low-hanging fruits” have already been taken and innovation will move from component / process level to product / ecosystem level.  Many of the tools necessary to manage R&D in this environment are not easy to find.  Key challenges include:

  • Communicate across language and cultural boundaries
  • Align goals / objectives / requirements / risks (e.g. in an automotive environment, changing suspension requirements will impact tires and frames)
  • Bubble up risks and ensure they are addressed across vendors
  • Manage investments
  • Protect IP
  • Manage morale and reward innovation
  • Others…