By transforming their R&D functions, companies can reap a number of benefits. Meghan Shehorn, a partner with Bain's Chemicals practice, outlines the three areas in which companies fall short in driving change and innovation.
Read the Bain Brief: Demystifying R&D Performance in Chemicals
Read the transcript below.
MEGHAN SHEHORN: The role of innovation in chemicals companies has really changed over time, and that's necessitating a change in the way that companies manage their innovation portfolio. It used to be that one breakthrough could drive a company's success for years, when now it's all about adapting and changing existing products, and thinking about new customers and new markets.
To improve R&D, you really need to make sure that you understand the drivers of success in your industry, and then adapting your R&D approach and portfolio accordingly. When R&D fails to deliver against their priorities, it's typically because they're operating in one of three different failure modes.
The first is that you have a strong team, but they're running in too many different directions. And what you need to do is really clarify the priorities, make sure they know about where to invest, where not to, so they can stay focused on what matters.
The second failure mode is that they're often focused on engineering problems rather than customer needs. So really making sure that you're bringing the customer point of view in early in the process and making sure that you're driving innovations that the market cares about.
The last is that the operating model actually hinders execution, both in terms of decision rights but also about the stage-gate process. As the types of innovation that drive growth for a company changes, you need to modify your stage gate process to align with those priorities.
By transforming your R&D function, you can reap a number of benefits, including increased organic growth. However, it's important to know that this is a journey that will take time and commitment, but it's one that we believe is well worth it.
A robust assessment of R&D can help companies understand how their performance compares to others and focus investment where it matters most.