If R&D is essential to your company’s strategy, then technology intelligence for strategic planning and decision-making is probably clearly identified as part of the mission for your R&D employees. The success and usefulness of scientific and technical monitoring in the company are essentially based on the circulation of information, its use in collaborative mode, and its analysis. However, many of my clients find it difficult to communicate this information beyond the “borders” of corporate R&D.
What are these difficulties and how can the communication of scientific information analysis be improved?
Simplify scientific discourse
Probably the most widespread problem and yet one that is essential you solve is the communication of overly complex, overly scientificinformation. This pitfall generally leads to misinterpretation. It can also cause non-scientists to ignore what they don’t understand. In any case, this can lead to frustrations within R&D who feel ignored and misunderstood, and to decision-making based on a partial, inaccurate view of the competitive environment.
Why is “translating” science into everyday language complex and how can it be improved?
Take a step back and work together
First of all, scientific or not, we are all faced with the difficulty of taking a step back in our field of expertise, and the subjects we work on every day. It is important to be able to discuss and analyze the informationresulting from scientific and technical monitoring within a collaborative community. Although the stages of collecting and selecting information are rather individual, monitoring is above all a collective intellectual activity.
Assess the maturity of technologies
Secondly, we must recognize that certain scientific fields are extremely complex. Is the information collected too ‘academic’, too theoretical? So, is it the right time to communicate outside of R&D? There are different phases in the development of technologies. If these are not mature enough, then the lack of data, the absence of “real life” applications for a product or a technique, the lack of references on the performance of these new technologies, etc., make the information unadapted for the other teams than the R&D or Innovation teams.
Speak the same language
This could be a tricky one. Obviously, it is not about writing a sales speech. Or is it?! Well, there is a bit of that somehow. not more. Try and speak the same language or at least, adapt your language to your stakeholders is always a good way to get them on board. Avoid any scientific jargon. As much as we value the accuracy of the information we communicate, the way we convey it matters as much if not more.
Tip: Reading popular science articles provides a benchmark for researchers to adjust their communication with non-scientists
Communicate in a ‘synthetic’ way
Synthesis is a difficult exercise. You have to know how to select the most relevant elements to simplify an often complex subject and make the information accessible to everyone in the company, without losing its substance or changing its meaning.
Why is scientific information not more synthetic and how can you optimize synthesis writing?
Clarify the monitoring objectives
In the context of technology intelligence, you must always ask yourself why are you monitoring these topics? What are the features, what are the end markets that interest your company? If the answers to these questions are not obvious, it is difficult to focus on the relevant elements to be communicated and therefore it’s quite common to drown them in complexity. If that is the case, then you may need to review the very first step of the information/monitoring cycle: the ‘needs analysis’ step. Without it, your employees act like radars without sonar.
If the information/monitoring cycle and its different steps are unknown to you or if you struggle to clarify your technology monitoring needs, have a look at our strategic intelligence workshops.
And the role of personality in all of this?
It is a sensitive subject, but our communication style is intimately linked to our personality. Although researchers are renowned for their pragmatism and their ability to structure, it would be a mistake to generalize. However, the idea is certainly not to ask your employees to change their personality, but perhaps to work on their self-awareness and to help them to adapt their communication. This aspect shouldn’t be neglected because a good analyst is also good at communicating.
Gain experience and skills
Even if we have all written summaries during our studies, some have done so with varying degrees of success. And after all, it is about academic study. We all know that our work environment requires other skills than when we were students. Fortunately, there are training courses on how to better synthesize written information, whether scientific or not. There are also best practices and booksabout methods of synthesizing information. Certain tools such as the SWOT matrix (Strengths / Weaknesses / Opportunities / Threats) or mind maps (also called heuristic mapping) can also help structure your ideas, the analysis of information, and its rendering into a synthetic format.
Tip: Whether it concerns scientific information or not, synthesis is above all a technique. I myself trained in journalistic writing early in my professional career. It has helped me improve both my analytical skills and my communication with non-scientists.
Simplifying and synthesizing scientific information are essential ingredients for good communications within your company. But there are other key elements that contribute to the success of your technology intelligence activities. If you and/or your team need some support with technology intelligence methods and tools, Defoort Consultant can advise you, work alongside you and train you to access the knowledge you need to develop your business.