Continuous improvement

Young athlete jogging in underground garage
From the practice court to the research and development lab, hard work pays off

What separates the elite from the ordinary? What exactly is that ‘intangible’ thing that propels a select few to go farther and reach higher.

For sports teams, success is the result of a relentless dedication to practice. In business, the analog to practice is research and development (R&D). Let’s face it, we all want to be the best at what we do. Few, however, are willing to put in the continuous effort, endure the periodic frustration, and push through the occasional setbacks required to reach that pinnacle.

Every one of the 347 Division I men’s college basketball programs that participated in the 2020-21 season has talent. But to be one of the sixty-eight who are ultimately selected to participate in the NCAA® Tournament takes something more—a vision, a strategic focus and a drive to outwork their competitors. The same can be found in the 100 select companies chosen to comprise the Nasdaq-100.

Focused on continual improvement

Did you know that during Q1 of 2020—a tumultuous time when many businesses were hunkering down and hoarding cash in hopes of weathering the COVID pandemic—QQQ companies invested 76% more in R&D than the companies in the S&P 500?1

Just as great teams refuse to settle for ‘good enough,’ so too do great companies. They know that continual improvement through innovation is the fuel that separates the best from the rest. It takes a visionary commitment and focus to trust in your process; even though the world around you may be in turmoil. Yet that’s precisely what these corporate leaders have been able to accomplish. Adapting to present needs, while always keeping an eye on the future.

From a bottom-line perspective, R&D investments often serve as an earnings drag in the year they’re made. So it would have been completely understandable last March (with uncertainty on the horizon) for companies to rein in their R&D expenses. But that’s not how innovators think. From Jim Boeheim perfecting the 2-3 zone defense at Syracuse to Steve Jobs revolutionizing the music industry with the iPod and .99¢ digital music downloads, visionaries are far too driven by ‘what could be’ to allow ‘what is’ to slow them down.

Whether you’re celebrating excellence in the NCAA® over the coming weeks, or business excellence as exemplified by the leaders of the Invesco QQQ ETF, take some time to appreciate the tenacity, the perseverance, and the relentless pursuit of ‘better’ that separates the very best from the rest.

Innovation has always pushed the game forward, and with Invesco QQQ ETF, you can access some of the innovative companies revolutionizing sports today and into the future. Check out some of those game-changing companies.


  • 1 Bloomberg L.P., as of March 31, 2020 for the first quarter of 2020 (December 31, 2019 - March 31, 2020).

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