Even old stage-gate dogs can learn some new tricks…


OldDogToday over 75% of US firms are using some flavor of the Stage-Gate process created by Dr. Robert G. Cooper over 25 years ago.  In that time it has been credited with positive accolades such as fueling US economic turnarounds and boosting new product success rates, as well as harshly criticized for increasing bureaucracy and creating roadblocks for innovation.  The truth of the matter is likely somewhere in the middle.

An age old business aphorism applies here: “A fool with a tool is still a fool.”  In R&D processes there simply is no one dimensional “Plug and Play” solution.  Schools of thought such as Stage-Gate, Concurrent Engineering, Lean, Agile, Spiral and Theory of Constraints are more similar than dissimilar and one would be best off borrowing what makes sense from all of them than following one plan’s instruction manual verbatim.

The biggest mistake people have made about Stage-Gate is thinking that it has not evolved.  The method’s creator, Dr. Robert G. Cooper, has spent a great deal of his career improving and refining his techniques to stay in tune with current technologies as well as business economics.  He travels the world visiting companies using his methods, studying their results and updating his toolset.  Understanding that time-based competition and speed-to-market are constants in the NPD formula, Dr. Cooper has focused primarily on methods for accelerating development processes to meet the demanding pace of today’s markets.

Dr. Cooper’s latest thinking focuses on a few critical aspects of product development, based on his research and hands-on experience with numerous global Fortune 500 firms.  He calls his latest augments the “Triple A Idea-to-Launch” system, which encompasses:

  • A1 – Adaptive and Flexible
    • Spiral development for rapid customer feedback
    • Scaling the Stage-Gate process to fit the scope of the project
    • Gates integrated with portfolio management
  • A2 – Agile
    • Using value stream analysis and removing unnecessary tasks
    • Integrating Agile techniques with Stage-Gate
  • A3 – Accelerated
    • Finding overlap opportunities for concurrent development
    • Proper assignment of resources and use of cross-functional teams
    • Robust system for defining product requirements on the “fuzzy front end”

If you would like to learn more about Dr. Cooper’s latest thoughts and augmentations to the Stage-Gate process and what it takes to set up your own “Triple A I2L” system, he will be speaking at a free webinar presented by Management Roundtable – see link below for details and online registration.

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