Is Your Innovation Process Curtailing Agility in Today’s Environment?

Innovation occurs when something new to you is implemented that adds value. Innovation is a process that is adapted to the culture of your organisation and the current climate of the market that you are experiencing. Most of our members have successfully utilised various forms of a Stage-Gate® Process developed by Robert Cooper and adapted in the ideation phase by Allan Ryan (as below).

Zero Gate

What I’m hearing of late is that marketers and technical people are resisting using this process as they find it too rigid with too many documents to fill out. Hence it is too cumbersome to be of use in today’s agile environment. Yet the reality is the opposite as the process can be customised to your requirements and should aid an organisation to be agile in response to the market and not be held back through bureaucratic paperwork and endless approvals.

Hargraves Institute has worked with many of our members in optimising their gate process and some of our findings are briefly outlined as follows:

  • The process becomes overly cumbersome when the Executive sits in on every gate meeting and challenge every aspect of the project. This is addressed by the executives utilising a Gate Zero® concept developed by Allan Ryan where the direction, strategy and where the organisation will operate is clearly defined.
    Gate 3 onwards follows the same process as Coopers Stage-Gate® Process.
    This Gate Zero® is complemented at a Business Plan Review where the executives agree as to the kind of projects and resources to be allocated for the forthcoming business cycle to reflect the climate and challenges faced.
  • The Executive then trusts their employees to follow these directions and come back at Gate 3 when the decision is made to commercialise, and at Gate 5 when the decision is made to launch.
  • Rather than being rigid in the process, the ideation phase is allowed to be driven by those with the skills to do so i.e. Subject Matter Experts through Stage 1 and Stage 2, with the business case being developed in Stage 2.
  • Expecting the same people to drive the ideation (Gate 1 to 3) and the commercialisation (Gate 3 to 5) and undertake post-launch review does not always work. The skills and passion to ideate (Kirton’s¹ innovators) are generally not those that have the discipline to commercialise (Kirton’s adaptors). A handover from innovator to adaptor should occur at Gate 3 but the originator of the idea should remain as they provide the passion etc that is often required when things get tough.
  • Having multiple entry points throughout the Stage-Gate® Process depending on the complexity and resources required to take the project to market. This speeds up the agility and enables the organisation to get projects to market without having to go through the full blown process.

The limitations of this blog prevents me from going into more detail but if you’d like a critique of your current innovation process then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Note 1: Kirton developed a KAI Scale (Kirton’s Adaptors and Innovators) where the personalities, skills and personal preference for working style is identified through a 32 questionnaire survey. Kirton’s Characteristics of Adaptors and Innovators.

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