SANTA FE, N.M--Jumping from a 165-foot cliff wasn’t in their job descriptions. So there was some grumbling when Hewlett-Packard lab director Frank Carrubba asked 20 of his scientists to attend an “adventure-learning” program in the wilds of New Mexico.

One year later, the Palo Alto, Calif., researchers talk fondly about their four days at LEAP (Leaders Experiential Adventure Program). The experience brought people from different areas together "in a bonding way,"Carrubba said. He said, the staff learned to look "at the emotional side of managing research."

Carrubba and other R&D administrators believe that a successful research facility requires more than a technically proficient staff. Managers must be able to create an environment that stimulates imagination and risk-taking. With the increasing emphasis on multi-disciplinary projects, they also need to build networks among researchers from different fields.

Managers also need to motivate their staffs. Unlike workers who are inspired by salaries,...

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