6 Strategies to Get the Maximum Value from R&D and Drive Innovation

Investment in research and development has been on the rise for the past few years. In fact, global spending on R&D increased to 2,475 billion USD (PPP) in 2022. One key reason why transformational leaders invest in research and development is to get insights and technology that enable them to solve for the customers of tomorrow.

Investment in R&D is a way to foster innovation, which in turn, facilitates sustainability, agility and competitiveness. Top business leaders in India and across the globe know the pivotal role innovation plays in ensuring that they stay in the game for the long run. 

Among these is Sanjiv Bajaj, Chairman and Managing Director of Bajaj Finserv, who said, “…we have focused on building differentiation through innovation in the middle class, unsaturated segments of the market…rather than going after the commoditized mass-end of the market,” when asked about the differentiating factors for his success.

Considering Indian entrepreneurs like Sanjiv Bajaj, Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata, and others, it is clear that innovation is a crucial driver of growth. Moreover, the right strategy can enable leaders to leave an impact on micro and macro levels, facilitating impact on a larger scale. However, there’s more to it than just investing in R&D.

To become a growth enabler, businessmen and women need to ensure their R&D strategy is effective. Here are some strategies transformational leaders can use to extract the maximum value from their R&D efforts.

Refresh the Talent and Skills of the R&D Team

Reskilling or upskilling the team is crucial for the organisation to meet changing demands. However, doing this for the R&D becomes all the more crucial as they help the organisation solve for tomorrow.

To ensure that the skill of the R&D team stays on par with the times, there are a few things leaders can do. This includes setting up internal rotations through which team members can expand their skills and refine their current skill set. 

Leaders can also take cues from top business leaders in India, like Sanjiv Bajaj, who have made learning and development a part of company culture. Another thing that leaders can do is to get in new members with new talent and skills and combine that with the proven skills of the current members.  

Invest and Collaborate with other Organizations 

While collaboration within the team is crucial, leaders need to do that outside the company too. This can also mean investing in other companies and not just collaborating with them. This is crucial for R&D because it will enable the leaders to access new technology and specialized expertise.

By leveraging access to both, leaders can amp up their R&D team’s potential and deliver better results. An example of this is Samsung’s invitation to startups to collaborate to co-build solutions for their products and services.

However, there is one crucial aspect that leaders need to focus on while working with other companies, ensuring that it is mutually beneficial. Only then can they truly leverage the partnership that forms and make the most of it.

Choose the Right Ingredients 

For any strategy to succeed, the elements (ingredients) must align with the end goal. This is because they form the foundation for teams to build and work towards the organization’s main aim. This also applies to the R&D team and strategy as it drives the innovation happening within the organization.

To create the guiding strategy with the right elements, leaders need to answer three questions – what they want to do, what they need to do, and how they will do it. Doing this will help them understand their capabilities, choose the right models and operations, and ensure that they align with the company’s core values and aims.

Create a Dedicated Team

In a time when R&D is becoming increasingly important, companies must ensure that their R&D strategy is not an afterthought but a part of the core culture. One way to do that is by having a dedicated team that can help instil accountability. Moreover, they help create a clear vision of who is responsible for what when driving innovation. 

To become a growth enabler, businessmen and women also need to ensure that everyone in the R&D team knows their roles and responsibility and that the team has a clear structure. This will help them understand what is working and what isn’t and modify their approach accordingly.

Test the Solutions in the Right Space

Testing the solutions in the right space is crucial as it will help aspiring global and Indian entrepreneurs ensure that they take the right decision. A good testing environment allows them to truly understand if the solution/innovation is what the customers want and that it aligns with the company’s value.

To do this, there are a few things that leaders need to do. This includes looking at the marketing efforts and ensuring it gets promoted to the right audience. It is also essential to ensure that the team is trained in the product’s demonstration and deployment/implementation.

Beat the 3 Common Challenges of Implementing a Successful R&D Strategy

Every R&D strategy has its challenges; although some may be unique, some are common. While leaders may not be able to foresee the unique challenges, they can prepare for the common ones and get an edge over the competition. 

Some common challenges include: 

  • Sped-up cycles with increasing competition
  • Disconnects between the R&D team and customers
  • Difficulties in measuring success due to the complex nature of R&D

To overcome these challenges, leaders can have a robust team to keep up with the accelerating cycles, stay connected with the customers, and be accountable for their work.

With global competition and the ever-changing landscape of consumer needs, a sound R&D strategy that directs corporate strategy in the right direction is crucial. By leveraging the pointers above, transformational leaders are better poised to ensure long-term relevancy and success.

Leave a Comment