What is it?
R&D consulting is a cross-service discipline that targets
the innovation strategy and product development operations that together furnish companies’ organic growth
engines. Inasmuch as this discipline sets the pace of core
business growth and builds the business of the future, it
is a critical determinant of company value. The performance of this engine depends on the ability of companies to identify and deliver new ways to create value and
the system of strategies, operations, and governance that
enable that value creation.
Improving this performance hinges on managing
unique complexities in the system engendered by:
• The need for intensive collaboration across
internal functions and with external business
partners and customers;
• The distinct mindsets and ways of working
required to deliver incremental changes to the
core business versus radical innovations that
implicate the business model
To support their performance improvement initiatives
in the context of these challenges, companies seek two
types of consulting services:
1. Innovation strategy: Aligning innovation to strategies, furthering technology development, structuring
and managing an innovation portfolio, and injecting
user-centric and nonlinear design thinking that fosters
more collaborative, cross disciplinary innovation.
2. Product development operations: Developing
products and services that succeed in the marketplace
by effectively coordinating upstream with sourcing and
production engineering and downstream with commercial execution, increasing efficiency by streamlining
and accelerating R&D activities across locations and
functions, and maximizing the return on the development and IP portfolio.
How can providers create impact for clients?
Both components of the discipline are undergoing
significant change. Innovation strategy, a relatively
young competency, is evolving rapidly in response to
client demand shifting away from generic strategies
toward the launch of new ideas in the marketplace on
tight time frames. Rapidly delivering outcomes without overburdening clients increasingly depends on
the ability to bring divergent, design thinking to bear
and enlist external parties (“ecosystems”) in generating ideas, flattening the learning curve, and bringing
ideas to fruition. Product development operations, a
more mature competency, is moving out of the lab
and up the list of corporate priorities.
This is happening as companies exhaust opportunities for productivity improvements elsewhere and seek
better performance from a function that is both essential to their success in the marketplace and, in many
sectors, a substantial contributor to costs. But pro-
BY NATHAN SIMON
The Management Consulting Landscape