What sets the top performers apart is their relentless commitment to achieve and maintain alignment where it counts. Whereas average performers share a common belief that the work involved in gaining alignment ‘slows everything down’. Frankly, for them, it feels good to get something (anything) done and fast. These organizations tend to permit small teams to work in isolation or ‘off the grid’ so they can work quickly (fast sprints) iterating until they unveil an innovative product. The problem isn’t the small project team, sprints or iterations. The problem is the isolation, the lack of purposeful engagement and commitment with the business leaders who serve to help cross- functional teams navigate the journey and access the needed resources for the next Stage of work. The downside to choosing speed over alignment, is that these ‘unveilings’ often fail to gain traction inside the organization and worse, broadly in the market. Why?
Managing innovation is synonymous to managing change. When you innovate, you are introducing change. Ideally this change positively impacts your customers, but it also impacts the way a wide range of people in various functions within your organization perform their work to sell and support the new innovation. Increasingly, as solutions become more integrated, it also impacts the way a wide range of value stream partners perform their work to sell and support your innovation. If the innovation process is not systematically building alignment across and beyond your organization, you are not readying it to drive a successful launch. When done well via Stage-Gate, this need not be a slow or painful approach. In fact, alignment is a proven speed enabler. Focus on alignment and speed will come. My mentor Dr. Robert Cooper coined a phrase that rings true with many innovation business leaders, “Pay now, or pay more later, but you are going to pay”.
The Stage-Gate® Innovation Performance Framework produces consistent performance results because it is a business process that is designed to incrementally drive risk down while building alignment up on the best ideas as they progressively shape and survive their way through the funnel, from idea to launch. It proactively manages the process of change that is external (i.e. your customers and trade partners), and that is internal (i.e. people in different functions and levels of accountability preparing to support the innovation), progressively one Stage and Gate at a time. Achieving alignment cross-functionally and across accountability levels (via leaders making Go/Kill decisions at Gates and teams executing priority projects through the Stages), is one aspect of alignment we have proven to be critical to performance success. The Stage-Gate® Innovation Performance Framework highlights three additional aspects of building and maintaining alignment that are proven to drive success:
- On the direction, pace, focus, and performance goals for innovation (your Product + Technology Strategy)
- On what the ideal portfolio of projects represents by way of sufficiency, balance, value and fit to resource capacity and capability (Portfolio Optimization)
- On what represents the ideal work environment to foster an innovation strategy (Culture Leadership)
Is lack of alignment in your organization blocking your path to better innovation performance? We can help. We have developed an easy-to-use, reliable tool to measure innovation alignment where it counts in your organization. Pinpoint your problem area and introduce a sustainable fix. Let’s talk. Contact email@example.com to discuss how your organization can achieve better alignment.
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