Category Archives: Analytics

R&D Spending Formula

R&D SpendingAccording to Anne Marie Knott’s article, The Trillion-Dollar R&D Fix, R&D Spending alone is not a good indicator of profitability, growth or innovation.  R&D spending is merely one of inputs into an organization’s innovation growth engine.  Instead she uses a new formula called the RQ, or Research Quotient to determine how much R&D spending improves an organization’s market value.  (You can look up any public company’s RQ using this tool.)

The formula is straight-forward:  Output = Capitalα * Laborβ * R&Dγ, with the exponents showing the percentage increase in a firm’s revenues resulting from a 1% increase in capital (alpha), labor (beta), or R&D (gamma).

But the article states that organizations need innovation (which is related to R&D) to be successful.  But what is innovation?  According to the article it is “generating a continuous supply of additional value and delivering it sooner so as to delight customers.”

So how do you create additional value?  Build/improve your products, services, and processes

How do you know how to make these improvements?  Listen to your customers

What is the best way to listen to your customers?  Ask the employees who talk with them

How do you ask your employees?  Get them to focus on your organization’s competitive differentiators and ask them how they’d make it better.

Employee Engagement and Creativity

In research published in the Psychological Bulletin from the American Psychological Association, the question of whether employee engagement leads to success was addressed. The authors examined over 200 previous studies looking specifically for this correlation. In their research, success was defined across a variety of areas, including marriage, friendship, income, work performance, and health. They defined happiness and/or employee engagement as “the frequent experience of positive emotions.”

Shawn Achor suggests several ways to boost or enhance employee engagement in the business environment, and he tested it by asking tax preparers (during one of the most stressful times of the year–tax season) to perform these activities. The bottom line is that it worked, not only in the short-term, but also months after these activities were stopped.

    Jot down three things they were grateful for.
    Write a positive message to someone in their social support network.
    Meditate at their desk for two minutes.
    Exercise for 10 minutes.
    Take two minutes to describe in a journal the most meaningful experience of the past 24 hours.

The researchers also tested whether positive employee engagement was linked with creativity, and found many positive correlations. While they acknowledged that creativity at times requires deliberate negativity or a single-minded focus, there were still benefits to working to make sure that your organization is at least supporting “positive emotions.”

Research Towards Innovation

Using research to breed innovation can be essential for your business. It is said that the more that you know, the more that you can do with what you know.

Research, unlike R&D (research and development) is more like a long term commitment whereas with R&D it focuses on the short term. Looking beyond your business current practices, research can produce slow and steady growth for your business.

Unfortunately, research comes with costs involved. Many companies in this economy have cut spending in all departments of their business and this may have affected or axed their budget on research. This can be a very shortsighted decision as this may save money right now but has the potential for your business to come out the loser in the long run.

Research does not have to been a huge expense. If you use customer feedback to your advantage, it is a form of research. By tapping into a consumers wants and needs, you can find out a great deal of knowledge that can be practically applied to your business. Acquiring feedback can be as simple as a meeting with your customer, picking up the phone to call them or by sending them an email. What you learn from these interactions can help grow your business.

Changing with the Times

Recently there have been signs of an improving economy. While this is good news for us all, it can especially be good for U.S. companies. In these times it is important for a business to have the ability to be innovative by focusing on their future rather than focusing on what is going on at this very moment.

Global growth in the future will be found in emerging markets of the developing world. Businesses who do not recognize this could find that their success may be limited by their shortsightedness. Rather than focusing on where they are right now, businesses need to change with the times by focusing on where they are going.

Since the emerging markets will have a lower GDP (Gross Domestic Product) than westernized countries, it you may need to tailor your products or services to their needs. In doing so, you may find that this tailoring may offer new ideas and help in the creation of new products or services that can be applied here in the U.S.

An important thing to consider is that developing countries cannot be simply considered for the marketing of your current business products or services. They can be the springboard that launches your business into the future.

Innovation through Customization

The word custom when used as an adjective gives the connotation of exclusivity and that it is special. If you have something customized for you, it has a stamp on it that says that it is you. This is why customization can be very appealing as a business innovation.

What if you started with a very good, basic product and asked your clients what they would like to add to it or how they would like to change it? This would open a dialog between you and your consumer that can help develop your products and services to fit their needs exactly and therefore ensuring future business.

A past slogan of Chryslers was If you can dream it, we can build it.” Given the state of the car manufacturers right now, that slogan might not have really worked for them, however the sentiment is viable.

If you present consumers with a can do attitude and can offer them the ability to tell you what they would really want, it can increase your products or services desirability. Additionally, by making your customers feel like their needs are met and that what they have purchased from you is customized to their needs, you can get more business from their referrals.

Problems Can be a Good Thing

You know that ah-ha moment that Oprah is always talking about? In business innovation, that is exactly what you are looking for. Finding the best way to evaluate your problem can bring that moment of clarity to life for you.

In your business, the very nature of the problems that you encounter requires the ability to consider many different points of view, opinions and personalities. Your customer, employees and the marketplace all have different considerations such as what they want, needs or simply desire and the constraints that come along with all of those things. If you are dealing with complex problems, your solutions will come to you when you have found the right way of looking at the problem. Finding the proper balance is the key to any problem solution.

It is important to gather the right information before moving towards a solution. This information can complement what you have already learned and can help you make the decisions needed. It can come from the outside in the form of experts in a particular field, your suppliers and sometimes learning from what your competitors have done or are doing with a similar situation. And learning from others mistakes can be your best innovation.

Its All About the Customer

A driving force behind innovation is the customer. They are clearly in control of the buying and selling process. How can your business adapt to their needs and provide solutions for them?

If you simply listen to your existing and potential customers, you can get good insight as to if your product or service will be a success or a failure. You can also find out how much they want to pay, if they will give you repeat business and if they will recommend it to their friends. Their likes and dislikes can help us shape what we offer into what they really want.

If you take customer feedback seriously, we can adapt our business to fit their needs more closely. Their feedback can also help in the development of new goods or services or may offer new ideas on how to use or adapt your existing products.

Customer feedback can be acquired through face to face meetings, phone calls, emails or online surveys. A customer feedback form can also be included in your products packaging for them to fill out and mail to you. (It is recommended that postage should be prepaid so that they will be more likely to send it in.)

Failures Help Businesses Stay Innovative

Try and try again, so the saying goes. The simple question is, if we do not know what does not work, then how will we know what will?

Thomas Edison worked long and hard to create the light bulb. In the course of his work, he tried 10,000 times to no avail. However, he did not see the 10,000 times as failures. He said Ive found 10,000 ways that dont work. If we approach each failed attempt at innovation with the mindset that we are not getting anywhere, we will not.

With each of our attempts, it is important to have a system of rapid decision making that helps the project along quickly while learning each step of the way. Each attempt should be evaluated and then is either accepted or discarded. From there, you can develop the accepted attempt or move on to trying something new.

According to author and motivational speaker John C. Maxwell, we fail forward towards success. We can try and try and fail one time after another, but it can take just one win to spell success. It is in the act of the attempt to reach the goal that moves us forward towards accomplishment.

Keep It Simple

Sometimes all it takes is a little simplicity. Take Apple for example. According to Business Week, the iPhones voice control option began with simply wanting to create a way for disabled people to better use their computers. They took an idea with practical applications for the disabled and discovered that it could have broader appeal. They found another way for voice control to be used that would be appealing to everyone and, it would be a valuable feature for the iPhone.

Each business should take a second look at their existing product lines and services. What else can they be used for and by whom? Answer these questions and you can see opportunities for your business to grow.

Another good example of adaption and keeping things simple are ski schools that give access to snow sports to anyone who has a disability. They adapted and enhanced existing skiing equipment to make it easy for someone who is paralyzed to go down the mountain safely and just as fast as an able bodied skier.

As a business, if you can adapt your existing products or services to fit different needs, it can further your reach in the marketplace and increase your bottom line.

A Change of Approach

It is all about supply and demand. You just need to figure out how to best fit the right markets demand with your supply. This is sometimes not the easiest thing to accomplish, but perhaps if you change your approach and think differently, you may be able to do just that.

Emerging global markets can be the key in growing your business. If you make your product or service highly desirable to them, and you address their unique needs and problems, you can succeed.
It may take a simple tweaking of your product line or a slight change in the services you provide that can make all of the difference. You can add features to increase value or to appeal to lower income markets you can have a simpler version of your product or service on offer.

Succeeding in emerging markets is about a broader scope of thinking. In the U.S., we are all about what is new and different. In other markets, it could be simply the manner that you solve their problems and fit their needs that will be successful.

If you truly understand your market and change your approach to adapt to that market, you can reach your goals on a global scale.