Blog 5: Define Success Now, Enjoy Success Later

[This is the 4th blog in the series on ‘Exploring Government R&D Program Fundamentals’. Visit Blog 1: Keys to a Successful R&D Program, Blog 2: Setting R&D Program Goals & PrinciplesBlog 3: Establish a Stakeholder Input Process, and Blog 4: When You're Making an Investment/R&D Decision, Know Your Criteria] It’s a scene that is played out thousands of times every day. Does this conversation sound at all familiar to you?

Parent to Kid: “I thought I told you to clean your room?”

Kid to Parent: “I did clean my room.”

Parent to Kid: “Then why isn’t your bed made up?”

Kid to Parent: “You didn’t tell me to make my bed, you said ‘clean your room!’.”

Parent to Kid: “Making your bed is part of cleaning your room.”

Kid to Parent: “Well why didn’t you say so?”

Aside from kids inherently not wanting to clean their room, you probably know from experience that you have to be as explicit as possible in your instructions in order for their room to be truly ‘cleaned.’

And it’s no different when preparing to launch Federal R&D programs. Step 4 in our series on “Exploring Government R&D Program Fundamentals” is “Refine Prioritized Concepts into Discrete Initiatives.” The key to any successful R&D project or program is having a clear definition what success looks like from the very beginning. But don’t be fooled, coming to this definition of success isn’t as simple as sitting in a conference room, throwing some ideas up on a whiteboard and calling it a day.

At Corner Alliance, we’ve seen from experience that how internal stakeholders define success may vary greatly from how external stakeholders would define it. Engaging both groups of stakeholders will help unearth where there may be a difference, but even more impactful, get both groups of stakeholders in a room together to co-define success. We have seen this work time and again whether leading in-person, facilitated sessions or hosting conference calls with all stakeholders involved.

In addition to establishing the definition of success before the R&D project begins, we have found success in defining milestones as well as documenting both internal and external resources needed for successful implementation.

So think back on your own experience running or being involved in projects that may not have started with a clear definition of success. How did it impact the end result? How engaged did all stakeholders remain in the project? Chime in with some comments below!