WIP Counting

Description WIP Counting+ refers to practices that count the number of projects or prototypes under development in R&D, with the idea that the greater the number, the greater the odds of success. This practice supports portfolio modeling, where the likelihood of success of projects is projected against the number of projects at each stage of development, in order to ensure enough is going into the front of the 'pipeline' to ensure a steady stream comes out the end of the pipeline. This is analogous thinking to perhaps the sales process, where the number of phone calls you make up front determines the number of successful sales you'll have at the end.
Weaknesses It's analogous thinking at its worst. There is nothing in common between the research effort and any activity that relies on volume to drive results. Whether you have one project in research or thirty does not determine your eventual success rate. If you compensate individuals on the basis of WIP volumes then you'll get WIP volumes. Surprisingly you can also get the volumes you want out at the end of the pipeline. You just won't see profitable revenues. Ask any insurance agent who has watched companies pump up customer volume by lowering prices or standards.
Appropriate Uses None. The concept of a pipeline, counting of projects by stage of development, and perhaps even the naming of projects in research should be discontinued.
Further Reading