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A R&D team broadens its creative thinking

Creative thinking

The client

A business unit of a multi-national company wanted to develop a long-term global R&D plan for an emerging need in the marketplace.


  • Meeting participants were senior executive leaders with strong opinions; all had science backgrounds.

  • It was critical to ensure the group did not eliminate possibilities or narrow their focus too quickly at the first stage.

  • First meeting of a series.


  • Made the distinction between creativity and innovation:

  • Creativity focuses on brainstorming, where the goal is the generation of novel, useful ideas.  At this stage, the “quality” of the ideas takes a back seat to “quantity”.

  • Innovation is the process of putting the best ideas into practice.  There is a culling of the laundry list of potential ideas to identify the ones with the most promise, based on a pre-determined set of criteria.  This is the commercialization phase and usually entails a “gated” development process.

  • Some exercises and analyses used:

  • Visioning:  This exercise answers the question, “How would the world be a better place with a new approach to solving the problem?"

  • Geographic priorities (in-scope / out-of-scope) and why – different protocols of standard-of-care around the world.

  • Target patient populations

  • Assumption-busting:  What assumptions are being made? Are these too limiting?


  • Many new questions arose – and adjacent areas deserving of further investigation.

  • The group was energized and immediately began planning follow-up meetings.

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