If your R&D looks like a black box to management, you’ve probably noticed that their patience can run out rather quickly. But when you de-risk projects transparently with management, they are much more tolerant of unavoidable delays and setbacks.
You do this in three steps: 1) Generate assumptions… possible landmines that could “blow up” your project. 2) Rate assumptions… for likely impact and certainty. 3) Investigate assumptions… especially high-impact, low-certainty assumptions. This 2-minute video explains the process: How to pursue transformational projects.
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1) Everyone on the leadership team—HR, Finance, Legal—understands your project de-risking plan and progress. 2) Because you’ve explained potential landmines early, management is confident you aren’t “hiding something.” 3) Management sees you’re investigating critical assumptions fast and cheaply, so they don’t second-guess or micro-manage. 4) When it’s time for investment decisions, they are made quickly and wisely… because these leaders have been on the journey with you. (See 2-minute video, How to manage transformational projects.)
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Imagine two new-product project teams have gate reviews on the same day, and both projects are stopped. The first is stopped for the right reasons, e.g. smaller-than-expected market size or low customer interest… as evidenced by tiny Market Satisfaction Gaps. This is low Opportunity Quality. The second team is stopped due to sloppy work: skimpy customer interviews and much confirmation bias. This is low Execution Quality. Celebrate the first team. Train the second. For every project, make sure you know which is which.
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