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R & D – Is Your Company Actually Moving from R to D?

I attended a seminar this week and a brilliant and accomplished innovator – Dean Kamen – made the point that there is a distinct difference between the R and the D phases of business - if a company is in R phase – you are spending money; and when you achieve D phase – you actually make money. Company leadership must make the decision as to the planned destiny of your company – either R or D, and whether an execution problem exists in making the transition is due to founderitis. (when a founder of a company can't make a decision.)

This is not suggesting that research is bad……rather, that it is expensive. If you want to be a researcher, write grants, be patient, and try your hardest, with success as measured by you. If this is where you want your company to grow up and be – then you have likely achieved success and your R results – have become somebody’s else’s D and sales success. They will be the people living in the big houses and driving the expensive cars and having many employees.

Development is turning all of this research into a product that the market actually wants to purchase. Once a company has achieved that sales foothold, continued product development and refinement to meet market needs will continue to drive sales growth and success. D is not for the faint of heart, because it may even encompass the need for a product / market pivot…but those are sometimes brilliant wake up calls. Sales can be a cold and cruel world, but a lucrative one, and not fit for most researchers.

So, be prepared to make a decision – but make a decision and move forward. That decision may be as simple as an awakening that the founder is in fact a researcher and will never be a Developer and needs to turn over the reigns to a more capable D type person. If you want to run a company and have employees – make the best decision for all concerned and not just for you.

Mr. Kamen also mentioned that he believes that through science almost anything can be engineered over time – with a picture on the screen behind him of a white rat with the shape of a human ear on its back………’we can even engineer a tie on a rat and create a better lawyer. All the while he pursues 3D printing a replacement pancreas for humans…..quite a talk


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