Who really wants to spend time and resources setting programmatic goals and principles? With tight budgets and tighter timelines to show measurable progress in R&D efforts, isn’t our time and resources better spent executing and doing R&D? Actually, no. A government R&D program without clearly defined goals and principles is a Congressional Inquiry in the making. Let’s explore 4 crucial benefits of taking the time and using the resources to clearly define R&D program goals and principles.

Clearly defined R&D program goals and principles:

1. Reveal the drivers behind programmatic and R&D concepts

One guaranteed way to fail at government R&D is to operate in a silo, not being fully aware of the larger R&D environment that undoubtedly surrounds your program. The goals and principles you set should take into account and clearly reflect an understanding of this larger context within which your R&D program is operating.

2. Reflect priorities of your program and of your stakeholders

Your stated goals and principles should resonate with your stakeholders. They should create a connection and interest in what you are doing and in how they could be involved. Similarly, your program leadership should see their priorities reflected in your goals and principles. Your program should be seen as an extension of and means through which your leadership is accomplishing the agency’s mission.

3. Create a vision for where the program is headed

Well-crafted goals and principles should set a long-term destination for your program. They should enable others to share in that vision and understand what and where they can contribute. A compelling vision of the future can go a long way to producing momentum for your R&D efforts.

4. Add clarity and weight to your messaging

Clearly defined goals and principles enable program managers to quickly communicate the value and importance of their R&D program both to their internal leadership and key external stakeholders. Well-constructed goals and principles should capture the essence of the R&D program in a way that can be communicated at the proverbial “drop of a hat”.

What other benefits do you see to taking the time and resources to creating clearly defined R&D program goals and principles? How have you seen R&D programs suffer without these?