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27 06, 2018

Winners vs. Whiners

By |2018-06-27T23:15:12-08:00June 27th, 2018|Blog|0 Comments

Are you picking winners in your product portfolio or picking whiners? What might sound like a silly question has a very serious foundation: in company after company we observe funding going to projects supported by the most vocal, politically-savvy, or persistent leaders. Meanwhile, those projects best aligned with strategy or those developing novel technologies, markets, and business models are left behind.

Here are three best practices that help companies make hard decisions that consistently bolster long-term growth prospects.

  1. Have an actionable strategy
  2. Collect more than metrics on each opportunity
  3. Practice transparent, data-driven decision making


24 06, 2012

To Fund or Not to Fund: Helping Executives Get to “No”

By |2017-05-23T15:42:04-08:00June 24th, 2012|Blog|0 Comments

Another striking—and often underappreciated—aspect of

[Steve] Jobs’ success was his ability to say no. At a company like Apple, thousands of ideas bubble up each year for new products and services that it could launch. The hardest thing for its leader is to decide which ones merit attention. Mr Jobs had an uncanny knack of winnowing out the wheat from the mountains of chaff.

The Economist, “A genius departs“, 10/8/11

To fund or not to fund...

To fund or not to fund…

Asking most executives which projects should be killed results in Hamlet-like levels of self-introspection and angst. Why is it so difficult to say “no”?

The excuse we hear is that they don’t trust the forecasts, and without sound data can’t make a decision. Even if you believe this in your soul, the reality is that you’ll never have the “right” numbers. For the sake of argument, let’s say that a company possesses the only working magic 8-ball in the world, allowing their forecasts to be perfectly accurate. There are still a number of departments that contribute forecasts to each project’s valuation, and all of them operate on their own cycles for refreshing the data. This means there is never a point in time that the data is “fresh” from all of these departments, so the numbers are never perfect anyway.


9 06, 2012

Is Your Innovation Strategy Actionable?

By |2017-05-23T15:42:04-08:00June 9th, 2012|Blog|0 Comments

Every firm we speak with talks about strategy, and yet for all the attention lavished upon the idea, few companies are able to craft a strategy that provides a clear path forward for the R&D organization. Why is it so hard? There are a wide range of statements that are interesting, useful, difficult to conceive, yet still fall far short of being considered a strategy. I cover a few of these below, and briefly outline a method we’ve seen capable of creating actionable strategies.

Mission and Vision Statements are Not a Strategy

“We will hire the best, qualified staff and reward them richly”
“We will provide a fun place to work and solve challenging problems”
“We will leave the world a better place and have fun doing it”
“We will lead the industry in mobile social networking platforms”

When written with care, mission and vision statements can set the tone for a subsequent definition of a strategy, but they are just the beginning. Statements like these make people feel good and have the illusion of bringing clarity to their jobs, but they don’t qualify as actionable strategy. Even the last one, stating a desire to dominate a product category, falls short of being actionable.


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