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