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Culture Wars

By: Marie Alice Dibon
Posted: January 5, 2010, from the January 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 7 of 12

The trick is really to understand those differences, to know where people are coming from and respect that background—keeping an open mind and remembering that to each rule there is an exception, and that those exceptions are what create the contacts points for better relations. When the ideas of marketing and R&D intersect, clashes can be transformed into true discoveries.

Different Time Lines, Different Time?

The concept of time can painfully divide those in R&D from those in marketing. Time just doesn’t have the same meaning on both sides of that fence. It stretches differently. For a researcher, time is most often counted in years. For a developer of formulas, a project takes months, at a minimum; never less than five or six. Just basic stability of a formula takes a minimum of three months—when that work is successful. To create new tools or develop new findings that can be used to develop the products takes years (real technological changes in this case—those that make a difference; not a moderately tweaked ingredient with dubious claims and poor substantiation). So with trial and error and packaging lead times, it takes a lot of time to go from idea to production, and that time cannot be compressed.

For a marketing department, when time is discussed for executing a product, it is never in terms of years—unless the discussion is in an overall strategic context. Marketing plans ahead, but executes quickly. Marketing will deploy, train and sell within months. Data will be assessed on a weekly basis.

Actions take place as a succession of operations. They are hardly ever contingent on the coming of age of a new technology. Even the technologies used to enhance those departments’ productivity are developed quickly. The markets’ demands change too quickly for anything much greater than an immediate response and action.

This is a phenomenon that is becoming even more obvious in today’s fast-changing landscape where social media brings about near-instant successes and failures and a wealth of very fast changing information.