Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Management 2023 International Annual Conference


11 pp.

Conference Name

American Society for Engineering Management 2023 International Annual Conference, October 25-28, Boulder, Colorado


Managing a research and development (R&D) portfolio presents numerous challenges, such as prioritizing research areas, remaining agile, strategic workforce planning, and measuring return on investment, impact, and innovation. One government R&D program is charged with producing a high degree of innovative, transformational breakthroughs in aviation technology. A practical, structured methodology for strategically prioritizing emerging aviation R&D in such an environment is lacking. The existing multi-criteria decision aid tools are primarily utilized at an enterprise level, take months to set up and collect data, require large teams of experts, are used on an infrequent basis, and are not conducive to a highly innovative, high-risk portfolio. Prior to audaciously creating a new portfolio prioritization process, the exact challenges with portfolio management for R&D projects were identified using the design thinking and lean start-up methods. A key part of this discovery process was interviewing stakeholders, as well as other managers of organizations charged with producing innovative portfolios. These interviews, as well as additional techniques, were used to develop a deeper understanding of the challenges and, subsequently, lay the foundation for development of an effective portfolio prioritization process. Four potential concepts that represent key findings emerged: carefully selected criteria for portfolio assessment and selection, targeted portfolio turnover rate, dynamic portfolio prioritization framework, and streamlined transition or commercialization of R&D. Acting on any one of the resulting portfolio management concepts will increase the transparency and confidence in portfolio decisions and, ideally, result in a greater degree of transformational breakthroughs in aviation technology.


Copyright © 2023. Reprinted with permission of the American Society for Engineering Management. International Annual Conference. All rights reserved.

Included with the kind written permission of the copyright holder.


0000-0003-4348-7798 (Pazos), 0000-0002-4798-003X (Handley)

Original Publication Citation

Aubuchon, V., Unal, R., Handley, H., & Daniels, C. (2023) Creating portfolio management concepts for highly agile and innovative government research programs using design thinking and lean startup methodologies [Conference Paper]. American Society for Engineering Management 2023 International Annual Conference, Boulder, Colorado.