The Problem With Stage-Gate Process With Experience Innovation

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by: Idris Mootee  

I have some interesting discussion on stage-gate process here in Chicago and the current paradigm of product design and development. A lot of people mixed product development process with innovation process. It is fundamentally two different things.


I remember in the early ‘90’s the stage-gate process became the standard framework for product development. This process provides rigor and defines the information flow, the decision flow, and the work flow for the requirements management of product development.

Stage-gate implementation involves cross-functional team, concurrent engineering, and periodic business reviews. When apply in as innovation process and that’s when it fails. There is already growing recognition that stage-gate, while still an important foundation for product development, does not adequately address the interrelated elements that promote successful innovation. Stage-gate focuses on the management of individual projects, which then have to compete for resources in the pipeline. Because stage-gate does not pay attention to links between technology and business opportunities, projects are often little more than extensions of existing products. The corporation’s development effort, lacking a strong connection to strategy, suffers from fragmentation and its resources are dissipated. It is limited by looking at a pre-defined market and is in nature market-driven and not market-driving. There is a need for a new framework that is broader in nature and is about apply design thinking in market exploration. When we use apply our (Idea Couture) innovation methodology we try to avoid any stage-gate approach and only bring them in later in the process.


Stage-gate approach works against innovation and a new framework is needed to bring in new language, processes, and tools for effective product nnovation. Another big problem is it does not include the service design component which combined with product innovation becomes experience innovation. The current stage-gate process is too product centric. It needs to be taken back to the drawing board. The question is whose job is it?

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