Tuesday, May 29, 2012

N-of-8 New Product Conception: Global R&D Leadership meeting

Several years ago, I was engaged for the Baxter Healthcare Global Senior R&D Leadership Meeting.

We were asked to support the free exchange of information at this forum. It was a terrific opportunity for us to interact with Baxter scientists, product developers, research consultants, and expert speakers – from every continent around the globe.

And it, of course, demanded the utmost in confidentiality. (Only recently did our secrecy agreement expire to allow me to even discuss our involvement in this important conference.)
This Global R&D Leadership meeting a two-day collaboration that brought together some 250 people to conceive health technologies for communities in the developing world. Norbert Riedel, Chief Scientific Officer, led the event.

It was a conference about innovation, and we shared the belief that innovation thrives in the intersections of disciplines that come from bringing together such an eclectic group. We applied our N-of-8 model and drew inspiration from other models of innovation, design, and community empowerment: co-creation, cross-disciplinary collaborations and crowd-sourcing.

Unlike a strictly academic conference, with papers and proceedings, the Global R&D Leadership meeting emphasized development of solutions, It capitalized on the revolution in product design that aims to create equity in the distribution of research and development resources by focusing on the needs of the world’s poor.

Specifically, here’s how N-of-8 contributed to the conference.

Working with our Baxter colleagues in the New Product Innovation department, a team of 12 Stinson “innovators” facilitated a series of breakout groups.
  • Each group had a specific definition of a problem
  • We gave a short description of our Action Shoes® activity
  • The participants were assigned N-of-8 working tables and captured new product ideas on color-coded index cards
  • Each N-of-8 table evaluated the ideas and added to their teammates notes
  • All the idea cards were posted by color
  • The full group did a “walk around” to comment and vote on most-promising ideas
  • The Stinson and Baxter facilitators led a discussion of key success factors
  • A team was selected to create a presentation to the general session
  • A follow-up survey captured further thinking and feedback

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