Do Something You Love and Money Will Follow

February 13, 2007

The most important consideration of the world’s most innovative companies is how to develop and maintain a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.  One of the issues that should be addressed is the need to stimulate innovation.

Departments such as marketing and manufacturing are known as the money-generators, while R&D is one of the departments known to soak up funds fast, with no realized return of investment.

Due to this fact, companies need to ensure the continuous productivity of the employees. If this is not done, the very purpose of the nature of R&D is defeated. R&D is basically set up for the development and discovery of technologies useful for the company, with the ultimate goal of raising their status in the industry and eventually boost sales for the company.

Most other professionals deal with an existing knowledge base or known technology. This is not the case for scientists. They are either developing a new understanding of a natural phenomenon, developing new analytical techniques, or solving a problem for which there is no known solution.

Scientists tend to be different from the other employees of the company, as their orientation are more toward things, not people. For one, they are characterized as introverts, having a poor grasp of social skills and not making friends easily. They are more comfortable working with things that they can objectively measure and control. They usually do not seek out promotion to the ranks of the management.

These people do not usually profess loyalty to their employing organization. They are more committed to advancing knowledge in their field, and is more interested in garnering rewards and recognition from their peers.

Due to these characteristics, different motivation is needed for these employees. Still, being human beings, the strategy for motivating them can still go with Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of basic needs. Maslow is known for establishing the theory of a hierarchy of needs, writing that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs, and that certain lower needs need to be satisfied before higher needs can be satisfied.

Basic physiological needs

Scientists are not inexpensive to employ. Their advanced education and expertise in their respective fields, their collective knowledge and potential contributions to the company are what makes them important and valuable. To address this, firms need to invest in acquiring the best. High technology companies are known to pirate the best people, offering them double or triple the current compensation. This ensures the scientists that they will be well taken cared of.

Security needs

Most of them preferring to work alone and undisturbed, management should ensure privacy and a safe working environment for their prized employees. Often, most of R&D personnel feel most productive at night when there are the least distractions. Only then will they be able to express their ideas effectively, when they do not feel threatened in any way.

Social needs

Humans have a desire to belong to groups: clubs, work groups, religious groups, family, gangs, etc. We need to feel and be accepted by others. Performers appreciate applause. Give recognition to where it is due. Reward systems and the company’s expressed support for the international publication of the scientists’ articles are most useful here. Social needs are also fulfilled in a way when they are sent to represent the company in seminars, workshops and talks. Interaction with their peers is also important.

Esteem needs

This is similar to the belongingness level; however, wanting admiration has to do with the need for power. People who have all of their lower needs satisfied, often drive very expensive cars because doing so raises their level of esteem. Although they may not seem interested by it, promotion and the corresponding increase of remuneration will do wonders in motivating them. They yearn for the recognition of the company for the very valuable discovery that will bring them and the firm much praise.

Need for self-fulfillment and actualization

The need for self-actualization is “the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.” People who have everything can maximize their potential. They will seek knowledge more, trying to outdo themselves every time. Maslow explains that when a person is in this last stage, he sees everything in fresh perspective, therefore ideas are freely flowing.

In line with these arguments, motivation is simply tapping into a person’s potential. R&D is all about ideas, creativity, and resourcefulness. Management of R&D personnel is basically finding ways to keep the employees happy with what they are doing, and the inventions will keep on coming.


5 Responses to “Do Something You Love and Money Will Follow”

  1. Mark Says:

    Thought I’d point you to the direction of the 2006 IBM Global CEO Study that shows internal R&D is no longer regarded as the top source of innovation. 🙂

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