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"Innovations in Drumming - New Product Development with DuPont"


At the annual DuPont-Tejin Technology Forum in Williamsburg, VA, a new groove could be heard as the 150 engineers from fourty-five companies around the world discovered an insightful meaning of "new product development." Because Remo drum company manufactures drums using DuPont mylar, there was a natural connection between engineering and drumming - but only from a materials perspective. The organizers of the Forum were concerned that there would be a great resistance to the drums. Constant complaints that no one had drummed before were met with continued reminders that the program was not really about drumming. It was really about finding a common language between their participants and demonstrating the impact of working together - the basic theme of the Forum.

After a day of seminars and meetings, the engineers filed into a room set in concentric circles. The walls were lined with drums, which, like children in a candy store, no one could keep their hands off. Asking questions about everything from the material composition of the instruments to the method of playing, the conference attendees slowly began to make noise.

Within 5 minutes, they were picking up their favorite drum and bringing it into the circle to play. Within 15 minutes, they were clamoring for the last available instruments. The organizers looked on with stunned faces.

After bringing the community jam down into a calming, quiet rhythm, we used the drumming experience as a metaphor for "new product development." Individuals from various disciplines stood up and began a rhythm, as innovators, with the rest of the group listening and adding on to the beat. The exercise demonstrated the power of collaboration. The overall theme was as loud as the volume of 150 people in a room with drums - there is strength in collaboration.

As a surprise finale, the Williamsburg Fife and Bugle Corp, led by Lance Pedigo, marched into the middle of the circle. The engineers howled and joined in the rhythm of the colonial ensemble.

The message was loud and clear - sometimes innovation requires integrating the wisdom of the past with the knowledge of the future.

 

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