Increased scientific capability is critical to future competitiveness

Koen Deryckere | LinkedIn

Are you leading with science at the center of your organization?

If you are a sci-fi fan, a technology geek or a leader who nurtures your inner Elon Musk, I urge you to read about “The New Scientific Method” in Accenture’s report, Business Futures 2021: Signals of Change.

Many companies are embracing science to transform their businesses and tackle the world’s fundamental challenges. U.S.-based Biomason, which uses microorganisms to grow ultra-strong bio-cement-based construction materials with zero COemissions, is just one such “scientific” company creating better, cheaper and more sustainable products.

I’d like to bring the notion of becoming “a scientific company” down to earth. And explain why “The New Scientific Method” is applicable—and in fact, essential—to every organization in every industry. 

The key word in “The New Scientific Method” is method.

Here’s why: We are living in an era of unprecedented disruption and convergence of industries. We already see it everywhere: Pharmaceutical companies are using artificial intelligence to develop mRNA vaccines against the world’s worst diseases. Hardware manufacturers are using biologics to print circuit boards. Consumer packaged goods companies are employing new breeds of scientific talent to develop DNA-based foods. New cars are essentially computers on wheels, as automakers morph into digital mappers of global mobility services.

Just as every company has had to become a digital company, tomorrow’s best-positioned organizations will necessarily be scientific companies.

If you’re not disrupting and converging yet, The New Scientific Method will help you get there. The method is the opposite of scientific wizardry. It is a three-step process to equip any organization to adapt and seize the future:

  1. Reimagine your design-build-test-learn cycle.
  2. Open up to drive your ecosystem forward.
  3. De-risk through alternative investment vehicles.

On a practical level, taking these steps will likely evolve your organization’s culture. You need employees who are eager to use data analytics and AI to “Learn from the Future” (another Signal from our report), are comfortable drawing on ideas across many different fields, and are willing to work with partners outside your organization’s discipline. Partnerships can enable you to speed up your innovation and spread your capital risk.

Just as every company has had to become a digital company, tomorrow’s best-positioned organizations will necessarily be scientific companies. Making this transition will likely be even more challenging than going digital. Particularly in an era of global pandemic, biological threats and genetic engineering, science is a polarizing concern across the globe. So, the onus is on every leader to build understanding and trust of the company and the mission.

One expert who offers wise advice is Peter Ronco, Head of Global Development at The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. Talking about “The New Scientific Method” at Accenture’s recent Future-Ready Forum, he cited three elements essential

to success: transparency (of data and methods), collaboration (across companies and industries) and communication.

“Communicate directly and consistently with the skeptics, with the underserved populations, with the people who disagree with you,” Ronco advised, adding, “We all need to play the long game.”