A stage-gate process, is a project management technique in which an initiative or project (e.g. new product development, process improvement, business change) is divided into stages or phases, separated by gates. Once the project goes through a gate, it is locked and can’t go back.
Stage-gate software enhances this process by allowing electronic sign off and visibility.
In markets with long product lives and low speed to market such processes can be effective.
In markets with short product lives and high speed to market such sequential processes are typically too slow.
In todays rapidly moving and uncertain world it is easy to see within organisations the friction created by the need to be quick versus the need to control.
In practice, the majority of organisations with a formal stage-gate process also operate an underground process where they work out of phase on an ad hoc basis.
But who decides to go rogue on a project?
How does this make the people who operate by the book feel?
Well they don’t feel like helping and generally raise issues so the project team has to deal with lots of negative energy?
How does this make the underground team feel?
Frustrated, unsupported and looking for another job?
What if you enabled everyone to use a system that had the speed and informality of the underground process and used stage-gate to make the project death threats real and visible?
What if everyone could see how the project was aligned with the organisation’s strategy, why it was Very Important and what success looked like for them and the organisation?
What if everyone used their energy positively to remove the project death threats?
This is how Innovation Engineering dovetails with Stage-gate enabling an organisation to dismantle silos, work smarter and ultimately increase speed to market and decrease risk.