In a recent article in Harvard Business Review, “Real Innovation Requires More Than an R&D Budget,” Dr. Gina O’Connor makes the case for having three capabilities for any innovation initiative: Discovery, Incubation, and Acceleration (DIA), in which R&D is only a portion of Discovery. In my experience with multiple companies, Discovery was allowed as long as Senior Management didn’t know about it, Incubation had a zero-dollar budget, and Acceleration only happened by chance. But since a few ideas made it out of the so-called “innovation pipeline”, there was the appearance that innovation was working. And I admit, the few ideas that made it into products were pretty good. Ours was a haphazard process at best, however. O’Connor further attempts to connect R&D to market value, which is admittedly difficult for those that have tried. It is nearly impossible from a third-party perspective, using only publicly available data. She asserts that the best third-party correlation occurs when there are dedicated innovation teams, and when the company goes public with their innovation efforts. But from my experience, connecting R&D to market value is much more complex.
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