Harvard Business Review. Jan/Feb1991, Vol. 69 Issue 1, p102-110. 9p. 3 Illustrations, 3 Cartoon or Caricatures.
INNOVATION adoption, RESEARCH & development, STRATEGIC planning, ORGANIZATIONAL effectiveness, MANAGEMENT styles, BUSINESS success, CREATIVE ability in business, INTERGROUP relations, CORPORATE culture, and CUSTOMER relations
The most important invention that will come out of the corporate research lab in the future will be the corporation itself. As companies try to keep pace with rapid changes in technology and cope with unstable business environments, the research department has to do more than simply innovate new products. It must design the new technological and organizational "architectures" that make a continuously innovating company possible. In this article, John Seely Brown, director of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), describes the business logic behind this distinctive vision of research's role and the ways PARC researchers are prototyping new work practices as well as new technologies and products. They are designing new uses of technology to support the naturally occurring "local innovation" that takes place at all levels of any big company. And they are experimenting with new techniques for "coproducing" technological and organizational innovations--not only with other departments at Xerox but with the company's customers as well. Xerox's business is technology, but Brown argues that any company, no matter what the business must eventually grapple with the issues he raises. The successful company of the future must understand how people really work and how technology can help them work more effectively. It must know how to create an environment for continual innovation on the part of all employees. It must rethink traditional business assumptions and tap needs that customers don't even know they have yet. It must use research to reinvent the corporation. INSET: How Xerox Redesigned Its Copiers. [ABSTRACT FROM PUBLISHER]