R&D Planning or R&D Direction

Guest post by Robert Cantrell

R&D planning is a misnomer given the truth that no plan survives first contact with adversity.  R&D involved experimentation, which essentially means to try something and see what happens because you don’t already know for sure.  So really you do not plan R&D much beyond setting a budget and a commercial direction on which to orient some of that experimentation.  To illustrate, one of 3Ms commercial directions is to build superior adhesives.  There will be considerable thought put into how to do this inclusive of adhesive characteristics that management would like to have and sell.  There will then be some deviation on the actual results obtained during experiments, but it will likely align with the direction of superior adhesives.  What the company wants is superior adhesives with differentiators at the point of sale that make a product better, faster, or less expensive.  How specifically R&D delivers on that is not necessarily the most important part as long as commercially valuable differentiators exist and the results generally carry the company along toward where innovation in the field will go in the future.  Differentiators at the point of sale, the innovative path, and commercial viability all work together in a product solution that enhances the customer experience on receiving given benefits, all of which are protected by a network of IP to secure the rational and emotional elements of the product solution that matter.

Image credit: B Tal

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