I believe it’s good to articulate personal preferences, wishes and goals clearly and, if possible, publicly. It can help foster serendipity, but mostly it keeps one honest. So as a note to myself, a reminder of something I’d love to do at some point in my life: Run an R&D lab.
More concretely, one that outputs products, services, and insights and works on a project mix spanning the commercially interesting, the purely explorational and the primarily socially valuable. In other words, prototyping tomorrow with business savvy and a moral compass.
The rough organizational framework would look something like this:
- a serious budget
- full autonomy in how things are run and what the teams work on
- a mission statement to work on a mix of commercially interesting, purely explorational and primarily socially valuable projects
And with this, I’d set out to gather a team of kick-ass developers, designers and tinkerers who could have a crack of lots of thorny, challenging issues, fascinating ideas or just inspired whims.
I’m almost sure it’d be much cooler to do this outside the corporate context, more like a self-sustainable autonomous R&D/exploration thing. (Needless to say, initial funding might turn out to be somewhat tricky, but that’s not what this post is about.) But even if it’d happen within a corporation, I don’t assume anyone would just walk up to me with this kind of a job description. More likely, it’s a job I’ll rather have to invent for myself at some point in my life.
Until then, I’ll just work bits and pieces of this mental framework into the way I work whenever I can. After all, to some degree (and minus the big budget) it’s something that’s really quite compatible with how I work. Anyway, I’m pretty sure that would be quite fun.