The Advisory Board, an external evaluation committee for NTT Basic Research Laboratories (BRL), convened for the first time for two days, February 15 and 16, 2001. The Advisory Board seeks to (1) evaluate research plans and achievements objectively and in a timely manner, (2) dispatch information effectively to the world through board members, and (3) reinforce systematic research cooperation with the board-member organizations.
On the first day, executive managers and group leaders outlined the research activities of BRL to give board member a grasp of the progress of BRL's research and its research strategy. After that, board members were given a guided tour of the facilities. On the second day, they held discussions on the basis of the information obtained on the first day in a closed session. Then, the advisory board committee reported on the management of BRL.
The board evaluated us very well, commenting that the research level is generally high, the research environment exceeds international standards, and equipment is maintained well. However, they pointed out that certain research fields are getting weak due to the departure of senior researchers. Regarding management, we received many unsparing but constructive suggestions. Among them, technical engineers are required because of technical succession, continuous reservation of young talent is important, and laboratories should be activated more through more internal competition and cooperation between groups.
Because this was our first experience with an external evaluation, we spent much time for preparation. Meanwhile, this was a very precious opportunity: we received an objective evaluation of our research level and many suggestions, which may serve as indicators of future directions. About the Advisory Board itself, although board members were favorably impressed, they commented that the contents should not be selected beforehand and all actual conditions should be shown. For this purpose, the program is too short. Furthermore, they commented that the evaluation be done every year. We decided that next board committee will convene in a year and half. This interval is shorter than we had planed.
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