Just finished three and a half years of part-time interim management with ComAp a.s. (www.comap-control.com/solutions), based in Prague.  The first year was as R&D Director, setting up new NPD processes, developing the innovation and technology strategies, and embarking on the platform principles for future generations of products.  In the midst of this change, the R&D team simultaneously developed a new range of products which launched in 2016.  Having coached a protégé, I handed over to him at the end of 2015 and moved on to become Product Director, establishing a new corporate capability to tie R&D, NPD, marketing and product management together.  Embedded a discipline of product roadmaps, working across the portfolio of products, together with through-life business models for products and greater precision in profitability modelling.  With the product strategy in place, we established processes by which both strategic and tactical decisions could be made with broad visibility and against understood objectives and constraints.

In mid-2016 we reorganized the company, creating business units to respond to customer segments and aligned the product management function within the business units.  I became Deputy CEO responsible for change management through the transition.  I also became responsible for ComAp’s move into products and services based on data, mapping out the strategy for the future and beginning the move.

Then, for 2017, I stepped back into a coaching and mentoring role advising on R&D, New Product Development, Innovation and IP management, product architectures, product strategy and management, and data services strategy.

And so in January 2018, with the areas running well, I return to consultancy after a fascinating, rewarding and enjoyable time working with valued colleagues in a supportive culture, part of an excellent company in a fast-changing domain of rapid innovation and progress.

Thank you all.

 

Advertisements

A couple of projects in the last few months to helped clients with key workshops.  I identified key messages and the insights we sought, designed effective processes to reach the outcomes and facilitated the workshops.  Synthesized, on the fly, the emerging messages and insights, building a consensus of the majority position among workshop participants, while recording minority views that open up new directions for exploration.  Then worked with the clients to capture the outcomes and think through how best to use them.

 

A recent small project collaborating with a global consulting firm conducting a review of their client’s corporate R&D strategy.  Finding ways to

  • best maintain corporate capability shared across multiple business units,
  • best direct long-term research of value to multiple business units, and
  • avoid the scourge of annual budgets and short-term targets among the R&D Centre’s Business Unit customers.

And these new ways of working need to balance the influence of past history and heritage, the mores of current corporate culture and the pressures of new business imperatives.

Early this year I collaborated with a ‘lean’ practitioner from another consultancy to help a client enhance both the effectiveness and efficiency of their R&D.  Working in the consumer durables market, the client needed to

  • maintain the cost-effectiveness of their current product range (via their already excellent platform engineering),
  • support manufacturing and change engineering,
  • adapt and bring factored products into the portfolio to fill out the range
  • develop the next generation of products (more platform engineering) and
  • innovate in new spaces (yet another outbreak of innovation around data-rich products and services).

The issue was how to meet the demands of all the stakeholders across the business, with constrained budgets and all while building a consensus at Executive level about the optimal balance and scale of R&D.

So we helped them do a rapid review of their process (several quick wins there).  We introduced them to visual tools so whole project teams and their internal customers could manage risk and recover late-running projects (a few big wins there).

Then we helped them clarify the queues of work for their internal customers, the value of what R&D was doing for them and, crucially, the value of what R&D was not doing (due to priorities or capacity constraints).

It was this last step that transformed mindsets and behaviours.  Now the whole Executive team could see the value that R&D was delivering, the value that could be accessed by some re-prioritising and, most importantly, where the big opportunities lay.  The dimensions of the eternal question “how big should my R&D team be” were clarified in a common language.

Now there is the basis for a shared prioritization for not only how the company accesses value from R&D but also when such value is needed by the business – so answering the tactical-strategic trade-off.  Better decisions with more light and less heat.

 

Social_Network_Analysis_Visualization

I contributed to a bit of thinking and writing earlier this year with some of the leading players in Arthur D Little’s Technology and Innovation practice: www.adlittle.co.uk/prism_uk.html?&view=448

 

How best to access radical innovation by partnering in the context of a broad ecosystem – not just working with the obvious suspects in the supply chain, and then how to think through the implications and management of doing this.

 

The article then picked up by Forbes: www.forbes.com/sites/rogertrapp/2017/06/28/rapid-change-and-constant-disruption-demand-a-new-approach-to-innovation

 

(Image courtesy of Martin Granjean under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Earlier this year I really enjoyed working with Charles Featherston from the Centre for Science and Innovation Policy looking at how best to develop strategies for emerging technologies – see http://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/news/developing-effective-strategies-for-emerging-technologies/.

Fascinating to explore the effectiveness of convening key stakeholders and questions of legitimacy and power in the context of emergence and uncertainty – and how the structure of the message is so crucial to its effectiveness.  Context matters.

Another ‘interim’ year at ComAp (www.comap.cz), first as Product Director and latterly as Deputy CEO following an organisational change creating two business units that encompassed product management.  I was responsible for the transition and then helped glue the business units and R&D together into an aligned marketing, product definition, and product delivery team underpinned by product and platform roadmapping – a core management process bedding down nicely.

Also working with teams on new and innovative developments that are yet to come to market.

Continued helping Cambridge University researchers to engage with industry, now with a focus on helping early career researchers to identify the differentiating features of their work and how it adds value to downstream commercialisation.  Also helping a few researchers to identify the best business model to get their work into commercial use, often finding that a spinout is too early, too risky, too expensive or too inflexible.

Working with a couple of small Cambridge high tech firms on strategy and on operational practices – usually to simplify and streamline while managing risk and robustness.

Having taken on the role of interim R&D Director at ComAp we spent the year further developing R&D, the product and project portfolio, the processes and, most importantly, the people. As well as launching several important products, we planted some seeds for the future which I’ll be able to discuss as they bear fruit in due course. I was delighted to hand R&D across to Radim Girgas at the beginning of 2016 and I moved across to look after product management. I remain on the Executive Team as Product Director.

Also on the advisory board of a small Cambridge consultancy.

Meanwhile the work helping Cambridge academics to engage more effectively with industry moved into its final year. This has continued to be fun and rewarding, working with some brilliant people and exciting technologies.

Trends in Megatrends

December 31, 2014

An article written with Rick Eagar and Camille Demyttenaere of Arthur D Little, building on some work done in the last quarter of 2014: http://www.adlittle.com/sites/default/files/prism/The_Trends_in_Megatrends_9.pdf

Two cycles of a couple of days each, tucked away in the Leicestershire countryside working with the senior and the middle management teams of a long-standing client. We reviewed the strategy and the business plan and its implications, renewed the cohesiveness of the teams, overhauled the teams’ working practices and refreshed links between the teams and with the Board. It has been both fascinating and rewarding to work with these teams as they have developed over the last few years and to see the evolution in maturity and effectiveness of the teams and their members.

After five years of working with them I think they’d benefit from a change in their facilitator’s perspective to take them further so I have stepped aside and suggested they find an alternative facilitator to offer them different things. It won’t be the end of the relationship because I hope to continue to provide informal coaching to the Chief Exec and others, and have been invited back for specific workshops in future. But definitely a sense of losing touch with a community of friends.