Project Management

R&D: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Research is an activity that has always fascinated me. Systematically investigating problems to increase your understanding and knowledge. If it weren't for research, I wouldn't be working from a home office through a VPN connection, and you certainly wouldn't be reading this article over the Internet. But putting my personal interests aside, how much research should your organization do? And how much should be spent on development?

If you're a small company hoping for an eventual IPO or eager to be acquired through an M&A deal, you should focus on development and let other organizations such as universities and government-sponsored agencies perform research. Research, especially basic research, will not make you successful overnight. Actually, it may not make you successful this decennial.

Because research in and of itself does not produce a commercially viable product, smaller companies struggling to reach profitability or break even shouldn't invest too much time on it. You should instead focus on development: building solutions to solve your customer's needs.

Generally speaking, the market doesn't compensate organizations that can't bring a solution to their problems. The high-tech industry is not a horse-shoe game. You don't get points for coming close to the pin. You only get compensated if you hit the pin--and you better be the first to hit it, or hit it better …


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"Let us be thankful for fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed."

- Mark Twain