Questioning and Skepticism in R&D

26 Jun 2010 Sandeep Mehta

The New Scientist had an article about questioning culture in organizations Living in denial: When a sceptic isn’t a sceptic: “

A climate denier has a position staked out in advance, and sorts through the data employing ‘confirmation bias’ – the tendency to look for and find confirmatory evidence for pre-existing beliefs and ignore or dismiss the rest. Scepticism is integral to the scientific process, because most claims turn out to be false. Weeding out the few kernels of wheat from the large pile of chaff requires extensive observation, careful experimentation and cautious inference. Science is scepticism and good scientists are sceptical.

R&D management probably is as close to science as we would get in most commercial ventures.  As we saw in a recent post, one needs to encourage questioning and skepticism to drive innovation.  However, managers need to strive to keep the entire process constructive and avoid “rote denial.”

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