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04/26/08
Business Acumen for Chemists
Filed under: Position Searching, Mentoring, First Year on Job, Leadership
Posted by: site admin @ 1:17 pm

During the interviewing segment of the NSYCC 2008
workshop in Brookline MA yesterday, one question
requested clarification on what business acumen
really means.

It is one of the Key Performance Factors KPF that
companies might consider important.  Business
acumen refers to having insight, skills, motivation and
drive in working with customers in a satisfying and
profitable (for both parties) way.  Business
savvy and wariness are other descriptions. 

A powerful new book came to my attention that
addresses Breakthrough business by Vijay
Govindarajan and Chris Trimble from the Tuck
School.  It might add some coherent thought to
chemists and technologists pursuing careers and
business ventures in emerging and uncertain areas.

The book distills what they learned in a series of
ten cases.  It is not enough to have an earth-
shattering idea.  VG and Trimble refined
characteristics they say “strategic innovation”
needs–
    high revenue potential
    in emerging or unclear areas
    be unafraid to depart from previous models
    look for new knowledge and new strengths that
drive discontinuous value creation (profits, applications,
customer satisfaction).

Think of ipods, GMs OnStar, P&Gs Tremor,
RFIDs, and so on.  The book does a fine effort of reducing
data and implications with easy to understand
graphics and tables.

Three following comments share valuable insights
on
     1.  characteristics of innovation models
     2.  creative imperatives (also known as commandments
of an intrapreneur)
    3.  differences in efficient and creative
organizational codes

 


3 Responses to “Business Acumen for Chemists”

  1. site admin Says:



    Characteristics of innovation models VG

    and Trimble compare four innovation models:
    Continuous improvement
    Process innovation
    Product/service innovation
    Strategic innovation

    With their expected costs, time to test the
    model and certainty of the results.

    INNOVATION    COST   TEST TIME   CERTAINTY
    Continuous             L            L                    H
    Improvement

    Process                 M           L                     H
    Innovation

    Product/service     M           M                    M
    Innovation

    Strategic                H           H                     L
    Innovation
    L = lower cost , shorter time or higher uncertainty
    M = relatively medium cost, medium time
    frame and certainty
    H = relatively higher cost, longer time frame
    and most certain outcome.

    As a result these different types require
    different management approaches. The
    management for strategic innovation need to
    combine the organizational elements of staff,
    structure, systems, and culture in different ways.
  2. site admin Says:


    Intrapreneur’s Commandments (selective)


    - come to work willing to be fired.
    - circumvent rules aimed at stopping your dream.
    - perform any job needed to make your project
    succeed, regardless of your job description.
    - find people to help you, and ask for help.
    - follow your intuition about people you
    choose and work with only the best.
    - work “underground” as long as you can;
    publicity triggers the “corporate immune mechanism.”
    - it is generally easier to ask for
    forgiveness than for permission.
    - honor your sponsors.


    taken from Gifford Pinchot’s “Intrapreneuring…”
  3. site admin Says:



    An organizational code enables people to

    excel at turning breakthrough ideas into
    breakthrough growth. It can be compared
    to a military code aiming at conformity and
    efficiency:

    MILITARY                     STRATEGIC
                                            INNOVATION
    stick to your knitting   think outside the box

    exploit what you         explore what you don’t
    know                         know


    meet current              anticipate future
    customers’ needs        customer needs

    plan                          let things emerge

    demand                     allow freedom and
    accountability             flexibility


    impose structure         encourage unstructured
    and process                interaction



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