As a researcher, Prof. Aravind Chandrasekaran doesn’t hang his hat in one particular industry.

In the 12 years he’s been contributing to our knowledge on issues such as innovation, knowledge creation and health-care delivery, he’s walked the floor in manufacturing plants, chased high-tech electronics as they move through the R&D pipeline, and scrutinized discharge instructions for kidney transplant recipients.

At the heart of his research is the question of handoffs: How can we move information more efficiently? How can we bring products to market more rapidly? How can we discharge patients and ensure they won’t be readmitted days later?

Prof. Chandrasekaran is bringing key insights from his research across this variety of industries to the Center for Operational Excellence’s Dec. 2 seminar, where managers can learn how they can collaborate across departments – even across their supply chains – and avoid common roadblocks such as employee burnout, intellectual property leaks, and scope creep. His 10:30 a.m. presentation is followed by a 1 p.m. keynote from Pete Buca, a top executive at manufacturer Parker Hannifin who’s giving an inside look at the company’s remarkable collaboration with Cleveland Clinic.

COE spoke to Prof. Chandrasekaran about his research and what attendees can expect at his Dec. 2 keynote.

COE: This summer, you led a three-part “Innovation Summer” series for COE. How does your upcoming keynote build on that?

AC: We focused this summer specifically on product and process innovation by looking at companies such as 3M and Johnson & Johnson. This keynote is meant for the R&D folks that attended this summer but a much broader audience, as well. I’ll be sharing keys to the “perfect handoff” by looking at examples in manufacturing, health care and IT services, not just R&D. There’s not a single COE member that wouldn’t benefit from it.

COE: Let’s talk about health care, specifically what non-health care companies can learn from your extensive research in that field.

AC: A lot of discussion in recent years has centered on what health care can learn from other industries, particularly manufacturing. I think the reverse is true, too: In health care, you have specialists – physicians, nurses – who are extremely skilled at what they do. At the same time, you have a complex ecosystem with tons of variation across patients, even caregivers. Those two components are present in just about any industry. As a result, many of the tools and processes I’ve worked with caregivers to apply in health care can be easily transferred to other settings.

COE: Speaking of handoffs, what are some of the biggest mistakes companies make when collaborating across departments or the supply chain?

AC: I think a really common one is that departments or companies take for granted that the other party has a clear understanding of the process. This is at the root of so many problems I’ve seen in R&D and health care. There’s also a misconception that the rules and requirements established at the beginning of a process don’t change. They can, sometimes in a way that can take us by surprise. I’ll be sharing insights in my keynote that can help managers address both of these common missteps.

COE: What's causing more of these surprises?

AC: The increasingly global nature of business plays a not insignificant role here.  More than ever, companies are dealing with language and cultural barriers, regulations and political risks - and the stakes for success have never been higher.

To register for Prof. Chandrasekaran’s keynote and the entire Dec. 2 seminar, click here.