Wednesday 30 June 2021

Work in private, and reveal everything (2021)


Way back in 2011 Robin Sloan had a brilliant insight into what was good about good blogging (HERE). His idea is that the secret to blogging is to work in public, but reveal nothing

But that can't be all of it. In my opinion another great thing to do is to find a way to share with readers what you have learnt through both public and private work. So it is also great to work in private, and reveal everything.  

Recently I have published a new book with my long term collaborator Joss Langford (HERE). It explains pretty much everything that Joss and I have learnt over the years about how to build strategic research relationships with universities. The book has been written for practitioners, and is designed to help innovators develop more effective approaches to benefitting from early stage university research.

In my experience, I have found that the knowledge of how to successfully partner with universities was held by individuals as part of their personal skill set. They knew what to do, but it was hard to figure out how they did what they did. This knowledge was quite volatile as most companies didn’t have the equivalent of a Tech Transfer Office.

This means that the individuals who were given the task of extracting value from university projects often needed to learn through their own experience and mistakes. Even if you have been successful at running small PhD projects with universities it doesn’t mean that you will be successful at larger strategic collaborations. There are published case studies in the academic literature that people can read, but many of these are complicated by explanations of a theoretical framework. There are also edited volumes of case studies on successful academic-company partnerships, these explain the What, When and Why of the partnerships, but they do not generally address the How.  

What Joss and I thought was missing was a cheap, plain English guide for practitioners. A PlayBook is by construction not academic, so our definition of success is that the books become well thumbed working tools - they are kept on the desks of practitioners, and end up full of highlighted passages and annotations.