I agree with HBR blogger Navi Radjou that the technically skewed innovation model is not appropriate for emerging markets. However, I would go a step further to say that this model is not and has not been appropriate for developed markets, either. As a product researcher, I have seen many products produced by these so called R&D teams fail because a market did not exist for the product or the product was not suited for the target customer. Do not get me wrong. I think that R&D teams can accomplish great things. I have seen R&D teams produce very clever and elegant solutions, but R&D teams should not work in a vacuum. The trendy work spaces of R&D teams is often missing an important ingredient: customers. As Radjou states, R&D teams should not only consist of engineers and scientists but also professionals who are well versed in the process of observing and understanding people and the contexts in which they live and work. These “people” professionals should begin their research before the scientists and engineers so that the design and technical work is framed by the needs of the customer, and not by the needs of scientists and engineers who are working in a vacuum.
For more information on Navi Radjou’s post “R&D 2.0: Fewer Engineers, More Anthropologists”, go here