The secrets of successful R&D

As with all business decisions there is an element of ‘gut feeling’ with innovation. While many of the most successful R&D directors are those that have clear sense of vision, there is a role for a systematic approach to underpin that vision and ensure that the right resources are available to deliver against performance targets.

It is not uncommon for R&D departments to grow organically and this creates a legacy structure that might no longer be appropriate for the business today. It is often only after a period of acquisition that it is realised that a radical re-think is required and that is when the R&D director may be tasked with restructuring the department to meet the needs of new product development.

Common issues facing R&D directors include:

  • Is my R&D performing as well as it could be?
  • Is the R&D leadership as good as it could be?
  • What is the right direction for the R&D?
  • Would external input create a more robust technology?
  • Why are we not generating many smart new products?
  • Why can’t we generate the right quality new products within the right time frame?
  • Are the Stage Gates right in our Product Development Process?
  • Are we using the right external experts?

A good structural design, built upon sound objective data and benchmarked against objectives, can be used to address these issues.

nu Angle has developed a good practice framework for thinking about R&D design based on our analysis of companies with high performing R&D departments. This is based on 7 areas of management attention.

We have found that these high-flyers share key operational attributes and strategies. At the core, they focus on generating sustainable and scalable product pipelines. They also look outside of their own organization for solutions, particularly in the face of increased regulation, where there is heightened M&A activity, or where the technology is complex.

By aligning the R&D structure with strategic objectives, we have been able to help companies simplify their R&D organization and enhance their R&D culture.

A common problem that we often see is that the R&D director sets out to restructure the research function, based on intuition without first defining and agreeing the R&D strategy.

A systematic approach not only complements the skills of an experienced R&D director but it also ensures that the priorities and resourcing of the department are aligned with the organization’s mission and vision. Making it easier to justify decisions and measure performance.

To read more about this subject please have a look at our white paper:

Developing a strong R&D structure to drive company growth