Ken Huskins, Principal, Stage-Gate International
During periods of economic uncertainty, the top performers are often the ones who retain or accelerate their focus on New Product Development (NPD). It is during these times two common thoughts could become top of mind for successful leadership teams:
- Although necessary in the short term, we can’t cost-cut ourselves to greatness, and
- We must innovate to survive.
When your CEO’s make statements like “our business needs to make its Product Innovation program a top performer”, there is an urgency to drive business benefit from NPD as soon as possible. However, there is a limited amount of time to make improvements in performance. And, there are multiple other constraints, such as people, funds, competing business initiatives, and a need to balance both the short and long term.
If your Product Innovation program is not a top performer today, where do you focus your improvement efforts first to get the biggest improvement in the shortest timeframe? Look no further than the foundation or “backbone” of all successful Product Innovation programs: the Idea-to-Launch Process.
Is it possible to implement (or re-build) a top-performing Idea-to-Launch process rapidly and without sacrificing quality? The answer is YES. And, can a rapidly-implemented process have ‘staying power’, meaning that it is scalable for different project types, has a high adoption rate, and continuously drives positive outcomes? Again the answer is YES. How? Internalize these 5 tips:
- ‘Go back to basics’. What is a top-performing Idea-to-Launch process and what does it take to ‘win’ with all types of new products, services and solutions? As Dr. Cooper and Dr. Edgett’s 35 years of research have revealed, top-performing Product Innovators:
- Use a formal Stage-Gate system to guide all cross-functional project team activities, make tough Go/Kill, prioritization and resource allocation decisions and make sure that ‘the right projects are being managed right’ throughout the entire Idea-to-Launch process
- Make it mandatory; all NPD projects go through the Stage-Gate process, with no exceptions
- Front-end load all projects with quality market and customer needs analyses that clearly define the product, service or solution and create the business case prior to development
- Have scalable and flexible Stage-Gate process frameworks to control different types of projects according to their level of investment and complexity
- Utilize a Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic Timeframe (SMART) process metrics to know how and when to make process improvements
If your team doesn’t know what ‘the basics’ are or why they are critical to winning at new product development, then educate and train them. You can only make rapid improvements if you have alignment on the fundamentals.
Our experience has shown that the first 90 days of Idea-to-Launch process design and implementation are critical to determining whether or not it will succeed. When time and resources are limited and you need the right combination of expertise, advice, facilitation and education to succeed.
About Stage-Gate International
Stage-Gate International’s highly knowledgeable and experienced team of advisors have guided hundreds of organizations to successfully implement a best-practice Stage-Gate Idea-to-Launch process in as little as 4-8 weeks. We accelerate time-to-benefit with an extremely attractive return on investment by:
- Crafting a balanced Idea-to-Launch Process Solution of expertise, advice, facilitation and best practices that fits your company’s situation, sense of urgency, and budget.
- Collaborating with you so that your Idea-to-Launch process is implemented rapidly and your organization is equipped to ‘own’ and manage the process as quickly as possible.
- Leveraging our market-leading accelerators, Benchmarker™ and SG Navigator™, to not only deliver all of the foundational elements straightaway, and ‘clear the path’ for rapid achievement of a best-practice Idea-to-Launch process.
Ken Huskins is a Principal in the Global Consulting Services practice of Stage-Gate International (SGI), providing product innovation performance improvement solutions to clients globally and across a wide range of sizes and types of organizations. Huskins has expertise in new product and service innovation, strategic planning and product portfolio management, and has extensive experience facilitating the buy-in required to make innovation change successful.
Ken has worked with innovation leaders in over 75 organizations around the world and across multiple industries, including Aerospace, Medical Products, Automotive, Chemicals, Consumer Packaged Goods, Electronics, Food, Software Development, Financial Services and Industrial Products. Prior to joining Stage-Gate International, Ken gained over 11 years of new product development and portfolio management consulting experience in multiple industries. Ken is certified by the Product Development and Management Association as a New Product Development Professional (NPDP).