Accelerating Innovation

Article by JMP

JMP discusses how to encourage organisations to take a new approach to innovation

MOST organisations are keen to establish an innovation culture; many claim to have one already. These same organisations often face constant pressure to deliver results with limited resources, constraints on time, and tight control of costs. Any of these factors can inhibit a true culture of innovation, hampering new ways of thinking and encouraging teams to stick to old working methods.

What can R&D professionals do to achieve their next breakthrough when there is always more work than time available and outcomes are often unpredictable? It can come down to having the right mindset for experimentation in the first place.

Developing an exploratory mindset

Pilar Gomez-Jimenez, Principal Scientist at Johnson Matthey, has a Master’s degree and a PhD in chemical engineering. She has been working in research and development of catalysts and materials for 15 years. She has seen that starting with the right mindset toward experimentation can make a big difference to efficiency and working practices. In a recent webinar, she explained that “as humans, we struggle to visualise a multivariate experimental space. We are able to imagine the effect of changing temperature, but if we are moving temperature and pressure at the same time, then analysing the data gets more complicated and our minds struggle to visualise it.” 

As a result, and simply because of the way they were taught, many experts working in R&D today retain a traditional experimentation mindset, moving one variable at a time. The team may think it is focussed on trying to achieve optimum settings from the outset, but such an approach can end up constraining innovation and decreasing efficiency in the long run.

Delivering value through informed experimentation

It is also important to make the leap without fear of failure. Julia O’Neill has more than 30 years’ experience using statistics and chemical engineering to solve problems in chemistry, vaccines, biologics and pharmaceuticals. She has seen how introducing statistically-designed experiments can help change an organisation’s approach:

“One of the things that holds people back is they feel like they have to get it perfect before they can start. I'd say, dive in and try it. You can start fairly small and simple. Because you have to put in the upfront planning, people perceive it as being more work and more effort. But in the end, it saves so much time.” 

The results can quickly convince colleagues, teams and wider organisations that there are significant time savings and cost reductions to be achieved if they embrace new techniques. With the right tools available to manage the process, organisations can make better decisions faster and meet project milestones more predictably. This in turn helps to reduce stress levels on individuals, leading to more productive, efficient teams.

Enabling the success of the subject matter expert through a strategic data-driven approach to experimentation can be a vital step in establishing a true innovation culture.

Join us in a webinar to discuss the power of using smart trial-and-error to speed innovation, achieve faster, more predictable cycles, and save time.

The webinar is being held on 19 March. Register to attend here: Smart Trial and Error for Rapid Innovation 

Article by JMP

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