frame typically identified as 3 to 5 to 10 years. A meaningful strategic plan is consistent with the mission statement of the organization. An effective strategic plan defines in detail the path by which the organization will attain its goals.

An operations plan includes the specific functions required to execute the strategic plan. The operations plan may focus on administrative, managerial, and production processes within the organization that enhance efficiency and effectiveness. An effective operations plan responds to gaps existing between resources and needs, including personnel and facilities. An effective operations plan is situation-sensitive. The operations plan is linked to the business of the parent organization.

The resources of an R&D organization include its personnel, facilities, finances, real estate, and the distribution and interrelationship of these elements. Resources drive the operations plan that binds the strategic plan that enables the mission within the vision.

Appendix B presents a summary of the presentation by Dr. John Sommerer, Head, Space Sector, and Johns Hopkins University Gilman Scholar, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, delivered March 19, 2012, at the National Research Council’s Workshop on Best Practices in Assessment of Research and Development organizations.4 The presentation highlighted the importance of alignment between an organization’s vision and its people, especially in an R&D laboratory.

So that an assessment can be appropriately tailored to achieve its purpose for a given organization, it is important to consider the factors relating to different types of R&D organizations, detailed below.

Types of Organization

In setting the context for an assessment, it is helpful to identify four types of R&D organizations (detailed discussion of the different forms of impact expected of these organizational types is presented in Chapter 5). Although no organization is a perfect match with a single type (e.g., federally funded research and development centers [FFRDCs]), the following general statements can be made:

1. Mission-specific organizations (e.g., National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST], Army Research Laboratory [ARL]): The mission is clearly defined by the stakeholder, who is often responsible for commissioning external assessments that supplement the organization’s own self-assessment practices.

2. Industrial organizations (e.g., IBM, Microsoft Research, Dow Chemical Company), research institutes, and contract organizations: The mission is clearly defined by the organization, and assessment is typically internal.

3. Product-driven organizations (e.g., National laboratories [e.g., Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory): The key missions are defined by a stakeholder, with considerable discretion available to the organization’s management to define or seek new mission space. These R&D organizations are typically subject to all types of assessments.


4 National Research Council, 2012. Best Practices in Assessment of Research and Development Organizations: Summary of a Workshop. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.

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