Opening up the Stage Gates to let the new innovating world in?

Stage Gate hurdlesThere is no question the Stage-Gate process has had a significant impact on the conception, development and launch of new products. Yet there have been consistent criticisms of it, as the world of innovation has moved on. Today it is faster-paced, far more competitive and global and become less predictable.

The cries of the Stage-Gate process as being too linear, too rigid and far too planned, bordering on prescriptive have often been heard. The gates are too structured and the constant ‘creep’ of the controlling bureaucracy surrounding it in paperwork, checklists and justification has simply led to so much non-value-added work add to the moans and groans.

Surprisingly, the Stage-Gate concept was created in the 1980’s and led to Robert G Cooper’s different evolutions of this evolving and absorbing many new practices and experiences gained by different organizations across this time.

I’ve written previously on this blog site about the concerns within this Stage Gate system if organizations allow the ‘controllers’ to dominate over the ‘creators’ of innovation what can happen. We end up with “self-inflicted wounds caused by jumping hurdles and closing gates on innovation”.

The idea-to-launch gating system is under more threat today than ever before.

Continue reading

Navigating the future landscape by developing adaptive innovation skills

So where are we focusing upon to make sure we are developing the right proficiencies and abilities we will need to manage our innovations of the future?  For me innovation capabilities and competencies needs to be far more adaptive and aligned to the different emerging skills we should be bringing to bear, so we are able to find better innovating solutions for our collective futures.

The issue is this: if we do want to reshape much of what we are struggling with today – poor growth, diminishing futures, disconnected communities, stagnating economies or ones struggling to emerge from devastated and austerity measures inflicted upon them – we do need to change our skill sets to reflect a more realistic and up to date need to navigate and transform knowledge to tackle these. Often our present skills are not equipped to manage in these more “disruptive” environments. Continue reading

Innovation Job Chasing – A Race Needed To Win

There are times when we all have to “up our game”. We are entering one of those periods where we have to relearn how to compete, how to win. The world is in the throes of some dramatic changes and the innovation gloves have to come off. Innovation capacity in many countries needs a new, more robust solution.

I wrote about “The present jobless innovation era we face” raising up the theory that Professor Christensen points towards, that we are working on the wrong types of innovation to create jobs. We are measuring our businesses in financial metrics that were more designed for periods of scarce money supply and not what most of our companies have today, cash in abundance, sitting on their books and a world ‘awash’ of cheap money. Professor Christensen calls this theory of his “the Capitalists Dilemma.”

Risk-aversion is dominating our Western thinking

The present situation is that we are in a period of risk-aversion where the innovation ‘bets’ are more incremental, more short-term pushing for greater utilization of existing assets that are designated by Professor Christensen as “sustaining or efficiency” innovations. He believes we need more “empowering innovation” – those that create jobs and invest capital across longer-term horizons than today. Continue reading

The Present Jobless Innovation Era We Face

Over the last few months I have kept going back and forth on Professor Clayton Christensen’s paradox he has named “The Capitalist’s Dilemma.” This ‘hit the world’ when he wrote a piece in the New York Times last November, 2012. I gather this has been one of his best, if not his best read article ever.

As I’m sure you are aware Professor Christensen must be regarded as if not the top, then one of the top experts, on innovation. For me he sits at the top, so when he explores a theory, you stop to think about what he is trying to explain. It takes some of us mere mortal awhile to grasp and relate to these ideas and theories.

Theories into solutions sometimes is a long wait for wrong reasons

Firstly an aside, I need to get this off my chest. Although I suspect a book will eventually emerge, perhaps only next year 2014, far too often this is a little later than preferred or when really needed. The ‘currency’ or present day relevance often suffers from this parallel world of academics, moving on a much slower level. They are still working within the publishing strictures and structures where a book has to be firstly written, reworked, proofed by editors, printed, bounded and distributed.

As you might guess here, I just wish some of these breaking theories that emerge from the academics could be sped up, they are seemingly just caught up in the dogma of rigour, validation and peer review. Weighed down in this legacy they often fail to provide the valuable insights that can alter the present day where the theory or dilemma has arisen. That valuable thinking to address the very problem we need a solution too is today not having even further debate after a book comes out, sometime in the future. We need to begin to travel the road, not just survey it! Continue reading

Self-inflicted wounds caused by jumping hurdles and closing gates on innovation

Many organizations have made Stage-Gate or a mutation of it, their ‘go-to’ innovation process that all innovation must ‘somehow’ pass through. Squeezing all types of innovation through this, for whatever people claim is a linear process, is simply wrong.

You can simply say: “we destroyed much to get sometimes so little out as the final outcome, when initially it was seen to be so promising.

The difficulty is that we are still struggling to find a real alternative, although there have been some recent noteworthy attempts, firstly by Jose A Briones and his Spiro-Level 3D approach and then by Paul R Williams, of the American Institute for Innovation Excellence, to move the discussions beyond the Stage-Gate process from this linear into more spiral concepts and beyond.

There has been an awful lot written on Stage-Gate, some people attacking it and suggesting it “guarantees mediocrity for your business”. Clayton Christensen has suggested “the Stage-gate system is not suited to the task of assessing innovation whose purpose is to build new growth businesses, but most companies continue to follow it simply because they see no alternative”

Stage-Gate has certainly earned its place for product management. Continue reading

We seem to pass over distinctive innovation, why?

I see so many suggestions on the types of innovation, actually I’ve offered a few myself, just go and take a look at http://cirf.pbworks.com for a different slant on this . For me, one ‘type’ of innovation that seems always to be often passed over is distinctive innovation in discussions. Why is that?

Most people work away in the trenches of incremental improvements and these outputs make up the vast substance of innovation activity.  Many working in these trenches of innovation on a daily basis would love to be part of a breakthrough but tend to find this is always ring-fenced for a few others to work upon. All they can often do is gaze over the fence or quietly accept this divide simply goes on.

I believe many who work within innovation simply do not share in this delineation of innovation activity, as it divides talent into separate teams, often pitting scarce innovation resource against each other, often in many unseen ways.  This divide of activities is often a real pity but perhaps another story for another day we can explore.

Disruptive innovation is seen, partly by the way it has its effect on us and our lives. Many of us are always happy to discuss disruptive as long as it does not have an impact on ourselves, on the receiving end. As long as we are the ones doing the disrupting, or just wanting to show off the status as being early adopters or within the early majority of the innovation adoption curve, then we love disruption. Otherwise it is a very uncomfortable space many are not prepared to travel too. Continue reading