Are there any methods or tools available to facilitate the creation of a R&D technology roadmap that will fulfill the vision of a company, in a sense, create links between vision and roadmap(s)

  • Oh Absolutely! It's called results chains...look it up for now. I'll post a response soon - in my morning :) – PhD Jan 18 '12 at 7:46

Okay, so here goes: This technique is called results chains and you'll at least need to have a 'list' of the strategic goals of your company - so you know what all to link to ;)

Let's say you have an R&D Project 'A' say. Write down: 'implement/design/research... Project A'. Now, start by asking the question 'so-what?' - you'll get an answer. Ask 'so-what?' again and you'll get some answer. Note down these answers and connect them with arrows. Keep repeating this process till you hit a strategic goal like 'increase growth' or 'increase loyalty' or 'increase brand value' etc., (let's assume the graph goes left to right, i.e., initiative on the left and strategic goals on the right)

Everything in between the initiative i.e., 'implement Project A' and the strategic goal are called intermediate outcomes. Now, for each intermediate outcome ask 'so-what?' (or what else?). You may/will get another 'branch' to follow.

Continue the above process for each such intermediate outcome and make the relevant connections. It's okay for one intermediate outcome to feed into an existing intermediate outcome or strategic goal, so don't worry about whether it's legal or not. Everything is legal as long as it makes sense in your context :)

Now all the nodes on the right-most end of the graph should be your strategic goals (they won't have any outgoing edges). This will give you a very holistic view of what are the intermediate outcomes through which the R&D project will help contribute to the overall strategic goal(s).

But that's not all. For each intermediate outcome identified you must also identify the key initiatives that need to be undertaken to realize those benefits i.e., what concrete actions need to be taken to help bring the intermediate outcomes to fruition - it may be advertising or word-of-mouth publicity or training or outsourcing or door-to-door selling or seeking early buy-in etc., - a good heuristic is initiatives start with a 'verb' so that you can associate some action with it (English grammar IS useful :P)

As before, one initiative may help realize multiple possible outcomes (or feed into other initiatives). There will not be any initiative linked to a strategic goal (quite rare, but if there is one it's usually questionable, since you should just do that to achieve the end goal :)

Now, for each initiative you should also identify who are the key stakeholders who'd be responsible/accountable to help deliver on the corresponding benefits. Note, this is NOT for playing a blame-game - it's only to acknowledge accountability - developers are responsible for delivering the project with directly correlated benefits. They can't be held accountable for not contributing to overall profit margins (unless that is indeed true). Get the drift?

Here are few things you could add on:

  • Risks: For each benefit you could identify the risks or you could write them down 'on the side' of the graph if it's getting too clutterd
  • Assumptions: These are the 'business' assumptions on which you are basing the 'confidence' of the project. E.g.: Time to delivery is a key criterion for increasing number of orders (i.e., the project has something to do with helping decrease time to delivery - could be researching algorithms, or increasing speed etc.,). Having a set of these assumptions ensures that they need to be validated throughout the way so that the project stays on track.

Now, given this 'model' you can either choose 'the best path' through the graph and decide which path(s) to take, if they can be executed mutually exclusively. For each benefit you can associate a corresponding metric of how to track it (a form of KPI). For each initiative you can peg a cost (since it's an action, it will be done over time and since time = money you can estimate a cost).

This 'model' should be revisited at every milestone to see how much of each benefit has been realized and the assumptions still hold and risks are mitigated or if any new benefits have been identified.

Show this to your management and trust me they'll kiss your hands and feet - more so if you can supplement everything with numerical estimates!

(FYI - this is similar to the 5-WHY's technique - you may also ask 'why' continually till you hit a strategic goal :)

The graphical layout shows the causality between the nodes and helps understand how they link together. So if you are failing to deliver on the end goal, traverse the graph backwards and see which benefit is not being fulfilled - so you know where to look :)

Hope this helps!

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