Helping R&D and marketing get along

Relationships between a company’s R&D and marketing departments aren’t always cordial — but they can be improved, according to a new article.

Relationships between a company's R&D and marketing departments aren't always cordial.  According to a survey conducted by Philip Kotler, Robert C. Wolcott and Suj Chandrasekhar, only 34% of mid-level managers describe the relationship between their company's R&D & marketing departments as collegial.

The researchers describe their findings in their  article "Playing Well With Others," which is part of the new edition of Business Insight, a collaboration between MIT Sloan Management Review and The Wall Street Journal.

What are the complaints? Among other things, Kotler, Wolcott and Chandrasekhar found that R&D employees complained about poor data from marketing, while marketing folks felt the R&D people did not include them in the early stages of product development. To address the problem, the authors suggest a number of approaches:

  • Make sure people understand each department's value -- and how they complement one another.
  • Prevent one group or the other from dominating the company's new product development process.
  • Develop a common language for both groups to use.
  • Avoid having people stay strictly in their silos.
  • And, finally, stay focused on the customer.

"When engagement and thinking in terms of customer needs becomes routine, everyone has a common vision for what is being developed and why," the authors note.