Can We Speedup R&D?

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Welcome to my blog.

Can we speed up R&D?

Socrates, says: "Our life is full of unexamined assumptions."

Here are a few we make about R&D. 

  • "R&D is difficult."
  • "R&D is sophisticated."
  • "I have chosen R&D because I am very intelligent."
  • "Intelligent people do not make mistakes. So I will strive to be right all the time."
  • "I will mimic the R&D scientists around me."
  • "I will be careful and test one hypothesis at a time."

Notice the booby traps we are unconsciously setting up?

We are not asking the question: How do I make R&D Fast? Faster? Easier?

Many years ago Reinertsen asked that question, "How do I run an experiment to learn the fastest?" and answered it with a really simple, elegant, theoretical proof.  

Malcolm Gladwell, says "look at the outliers,"  the real extreme data points that show markedly different behavior. For example, watch a 10-12 month old baby, trying to walk, LEARN.

And yes there is solid hardcore science. Neuroplasticity. "... involving a neural insulator called myelin, which some neurologists now consider to be the holy grail of acquiring a skill." When you learn, your brain produces myelin and uses it as an insulation sheath to connect the neurons involved in your current learning task. More myelin you make, stronger the insulation, faster the electronic connection, faster the recall.

But how do you use better science, produce more myelin and make a better, thicker insulation covering? How?

Josh Kaufman , The first 20 hours -- how to learn anything, Ted Talk says you may need up to 10,000 hours to become an expert in a chosen field( think of the time to acquire a PhD degree), however you can become reasonably productive in 20 hours. 

I have already done all the front-end research work for you.

Daniel Coyne, in his excellent book,  Talent Code,  says Start Slow. 

Yes, Start Slow.

And Start small, like 4-5 minutes per day or even smaller!

In a Chemical R&D Lab setting, start small may mean 4-8 experiments per day or per week. 

Most chemists/scientists start with a belief, conceive an idea and start working on that concept. Unfortunately most of the scientists do not formally identify, list and create a set of Falsifiable Hypotheses.  Falsifiable hypotheses is the very foundation of science. And since the R&D scientists do not create a set of falsifiable hypotheses, they miss out on a BIG improvement/speed-up opportunity. I will cover this idea extensively in future blog posts.

"Do it." Observe. Identify the mistakes, correct them, improve if possible. Repeat. 

Repeat the process, daily during the first week. This is important for new habit formation,  early memorization of new steps, new learning and getting the fundamentals right. And then Repeat every other day. Reduce frequency over time. Memorization becomes efficient over time and you no longer need to spend as much time after the first week.

If you can keep a journal, a hand written notebook, like an R&D scientist, so much the better.

For now, pick a new topic, like "Learn FastR&D." Start Small and Repeat. Repeat again and again.

Learn Faster, Innovate Faster.

Questions? Comments? Share them with me in Comments section below and I will get back to you.

References:

  1. Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success, Little Brown and Company, 2008.
  2. Daniel Coyle, The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How,  Arrow Books Ltd.; 2nd Edition, 2010.
  3. Falsifiability, Karl Popper's Basic Scientific Principle.

Mukul Mehta

Chef, Cook, Bottle_washer and Founder

FastR&D Software

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