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The Six Departments of Innovation (.PDF Download)

May 23, 2017
The Six Departments of Innovation (.PDF Download)

For the past decade, which translates into two to five product cycles for most industries, broad-based innovation has been on the decline. The research of Dr. Robert Cooper, the creator of Stage-Gate, indicates that companies typically spent almost 60% of R&D funds on New-to-the-World, New-to-the-Market, and New Product Lines. The remaining 40% went to Additions to Existing Product Lines and Improvements to Existing Products. These figures are now inverted. Most companies now focus on extending the life of existing products and assets, and they will until GDP clearly outpaces inflation again. There are now indications that top-line pressures may lessen in a year. Let’s get a jump on likely good news by revisiting the alternatives companies have to spur innovation.

Just about everything companies do to innovate falls into six groups: Basic Research, Applied Research, Advanced Development, Product Development, Product Enhancement, and Product Invention. The first five categories are a continuum of capabilities and/or technologies progressing from the nascent to the mature. Product Invention, aka Skunk Works and other names, spans nascent to mature by itself.

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