Scott’s Thoughts: The New R&D?

“Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.”

-Francois Voltaire, French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher.

Kid wearing VR goggles.When you hear “R&D” you probably think: “Research & Development,” the process by which businesses large and small develop new products and services. But according to Bill Taylor for the Harvard Business Review, the “new” R&D means “rip-off and duplicate.”

Are we talking about intellectual property theft here? No, not at all. Rather, Taylor suggests that industry innovations often come from looking beyond the boundaries of one sector and looking for ideas in uncommon places. Take, for example, how London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children improved their “handoff” of patients by working directly with Ferrari Formula One pit crews. (You can read all about the process in “The New Logic of R&D: Rip Off and Duplicate.”)

Often we become too narrowly focused on our own industry and find ourselves obsessed with ideas coming from competitors. But new ideas can–and should!–come from anywhere. We only need the eyes to look for them. This is especially true when we’re problem solving.

You can help train your eyes by keeping this “new R&D” concept in mind. Asking yourself, “how might this apply to my business?” in even the most unlikely scenarios might just yield surprising new ideas.

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