Robert G. Cooper
Stage-Gate has become a popular system for driving new products to market; but there are many misconceptions and challenges in using Stage-Gate. Challenges faced in employing Stage-Gate are identified including governance issues, over-bureaucratizing the process, and misapplying cost cutting measures such as Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing in product innovation. Solutions are offered, including better governance methods: “gates with teeth”, clearly defined gatekeepers and gatekeeper rules of engagement; and ways to deal with bureaucracy, including leaner gates.
In this article, some misconceptions about Stage-Gate are debunked and next generation versions of Stage-Gate are introduced. Stage-Gate now incorporates better decision-making practices including scorecards, success criteria, self managed gates, electronic and virtual gates, and integration with portfolio management; and progressive companies are reinventing Stage-Gate for use with “open innovation”, while others are applying the principles of value stream analysis to yield a leaner version of Stage-Gate.