If it were possible to easily improve the chance of success in each of the gates of an R&D pipeline as shown in the “Number of Ideas that Succeed at each New Product Development Gate Review” figure, the issue of how to improve our product and service offerings and achieve much larger company growth rates would be pretty simple. With much work over the past decades organizations have in fact improved somewhat on this passing rate.
However, after lots of effort, the overall shape remains the same. Market research, technical research, and intellectual property research is all conducted because an organization is trying to do things that have never been done before, and therefore the probability of the idea having merit, unfortunately, diminishes as this plot shows. When companies have tried to improve the pass rates, most organizations achieve that goal, but in looking critically at what happened, those companies in retrospect understand that what they’ve sent down the pipeline were incremental projects versus the hoped-for next-generation or breakthrough programs that they were banking on. In later chapters, we will talk about how to improve the success rates but clearly, there is no silver bullet. The fact remains that just trying to run more projects down this pipeline with higher success rates does not allow us a simple solution to the problem of growing our company rapidly.