R&D: Achieving success together with intrinsic motivation

R&D: Achieving success together with intrinsic motivation

  • Posted by Gerhard Pramhas
  • On 16. September 2019


Managing people is a very exciting and multifaceted task in itself. It seems like 1,000 books have already been written on that topic. But what makes it even more exciting for me is when an innovation process joins into the mix, prompting the question: How can I manage and lead my R&D team successfully? One key to success is intrinsic motivation – but what exactly does that term mean?

In one of my earlier blogs I explored the literal meaning of the German word “entwickeln” or “develop”. Technological problems can be solved in a multitude of ways – the engineer “simply” has to find them. In other words, it involves “unwrapping” (the literal German interpretation of “developing”) the real solution, which is packaged in a host of possibilities. The process behind this cannot be measured. It is very difficult to determine how much time an engineer is allowed to take to find a solution. Tools for generating ideas, such as the design methodology VDI 2222, are designed to support this process. But how often is a radically new solution – a radical innovation – required? More often than not, the task is a matter of putting scientific engineering expertise into practice in the capacity of a design engineer. In contrast to radical innovation, which cannot be generated from existing solutions, the developer has to choose from existing physical principles and solutions. But he shouldn’t require an infinite amount of time to do this. On top of that, the solution has to be both practicable and cost-effective, and it has to help the company generate more revenue and more profit.

The magic formula for R&D: Intrinsic motivation

A magic formula in this context is intrinsic motivation. If you succeed in inspiring your employees to perform their job in line with the ideas in my last blog – in other words – enthusiastically, and driven by their own inner desire, while still keeping an eye on efficiency and profitability – then you’ve won! Then you can spare yourself the hassle of rigid specifications and elaborate time and cost schedules. If that’s not the case, it will be more difficult. In that event, you will have to take the path of having precise and detailed specifications that must be adhered to with equal precision and thus require stringent, cost-intensive, and time-consuming controlling.
The path to success
In order to move from the latter option to the former one, the only thing that works is having a face-to-face conversation. Try to find out what it would take to accelerate design engineering output without the need for extensive controlling. Are there any structural problems? Is the IT not running smoothly? Are employees afraid of jeopardising their jobs if they finish the task too quickly? Are there follow-up projects? These questions and many others often result in an open dialogue, which helps you to recognise the potential for optimisation and to work together to create a common vision.

Reaching the goal together

Would you like to identify how you can boost the performance of your development and design department, ideally before starting the project, so that your innovation can succeed as quickly as possible? I would be happy to contribute my experience and expertise as Interim Chief Innovation Officer! Let’s start by discussing your possibilities online.
Feel free to write to me at gerhard@pramhas.eu or use the contact form.