Internationally recognized expert in the field of innovation management


1. Agile Development in Manufacturing Companies: Best Practices and Pitfalls

Seeking to get the best of both worlds, leading manufacturers have borrowed agile development from the software world and integrated it with their Stage-Gate method. The resulting hybrid Agile–Stage-Gate (A-SG) model delivers very positive performance results: faster response to change, higher customer satisfaction, and increased team motivation. Based on the input from leading firms, the article describes a consensus A-SG model that physical-product firms have crafted, including a number of major differences from the “pure agile” model. But no system is perfect, and pitfalls to watch out for are identified for users.

2. Podcast: Doing Projects Right, Doing the Right Projects 

From: Product Mastery Now:

With Dr. Bob Cooper, special guest

The host Chad McAllister poses tough questions to Bob. Topics include:

·      The toughest issues faction product development leaguers in thse uncertain times – a look of strategic issues in in novation

·      Doing projects right includes ways it makes the new product Stage-Gate process better. Most new-product processes are outdated and overly boreoarctic, and need an overhaul. The Lean methodology using Value Stream applied to the new-product process with dramatics results, Iterative development, including a series of “build-and-test” iterations is a vital way to get the product right.

·      A second topic is doing the right projects, which is about Portfolio Management. Most firms have too many projects underway for the available resources. Bob outlines ways to force-rank and prioritize projects: the Productivity Index and Strategic Buckets. Dealing with uncertainty and risk in the valuation of projects is also a topic, including the Expected Commercial Value (ECV)

·      Finally, Bob discusses some of the success factors in NPD which are highlighted in Ch 1 of the PDMA Handbook of New Product Development..

A lively and entertaining 35 minutes.

Click the link to listen:

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3. The 5-th Generation Stage-Gate Idea-to-Launch Process                     

This Engineering Management Review article probes how leading firms have made major improvements to their NPD Stage-Gate systems. Some changes are relatively simple, such as using Value Steam Mapping to remove bureaucracy and waste, or adopting concurrency and parallel processing, but have major impacts. Building iterations in throughout the development process – a series of build-and-test steps – gets both customer and technical validation of the product. More focus on the development pipeline by toughening the gates — making them gates with teeth or investment decision points — leads to fewer but better projects. Finally, integrating Agile into your gating system has yielded very positive results for some physical-product firms.

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4. Accelerating Innovation: Some Lessons From the Pandemic

Awarded "Top Article for 2021-2022". The Pandemic taught us that accelerated new-product development is more important than ever, and provided examples of firms developing breakthrough products in record time. Five approaches to accelerated development are outlined here: The first two deal with adequately resourcing new-product projects, namely the use of focused teams; and effective portfolio management to prioritize projects and reallocate resources. Newer digital tools are outlined that speed new-products developments. Finally, two development methods are described that move development projects faster: Lean development and Agile development. Accelerated development also has hidden costs: undertaking less innovative projects and cutting too many corners.

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5. Agile Development for Manufacturers: The Emergent Gating Model

Agile is employed within Stage-Gate for new-product development by manufacturers with positive performance results; but must be adjusted from the software version of Agile – the result: the emergent Agile-Stage-Gate hybrid model. Agile Development emerged from the software industry through the 1990s, a time when the industry needed new ways to overcome many deficiencies. By 2013 - 2015, a few manufacturers of physical products – notably those with software embedded in their products – were applying Agile to their hardware developments. Now we have years of experiences from many manufacturers using the new model, so the time is ripe to integrate these findings into a proven consensus, dominant or recommended model – Agile-Stage-Gate as of 2020 – and thus help to eliminate the “paradigm perplexity” between Agile methods and classic approaches.

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6. Evaluating the Agile-Stage-Gate Hybrid Model: Experiences From Three SME Manufacturing Firms 

Agile-Stage-Gate is a hybrid product development model that integrates elements of both Agile and Stage-Gate to help companies realize the strengths of both. Recent studies show positive results in manufacturing companies, although SMEs are notably absent despite being the majority. This paper reports results of a test of the model in three deliberately chosen manufacturing SMEs. Results were improved: time to market, overall new product process, higher success rate. Agile required adaptations, and novel solutions were found by the test firms. The positive results suggest that Agile-Stage-Gate must be considered as a recommended product development approach in SME manufacturers. 

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7. VIDEO: How to Drive New Products to Market

Faster, Better, Smarter: Next Generation Stage-Gate Framework

Video provides insights into why new products fail, what separates the winners from the losers, and how to build these success drivers into your next new-product project. Then an introduction to his Stage-Gate system is given: how Stage-Gate works, what the Stages are, how Gates work, and how they help you select the best projects for development. Cooper then outlines the latest versions of Stage-Gate, including Iterative Development and Lean Development. Finally he  spends time on Agile-Stage-Gate, and how it integrates concepts from software development with tried-and-proven gating methods to achieve faster and more productive new-product development.

Recorded originally with, and made available from: Disruptive Innovation Hub, The Lassonde School of Engineering

York University, Toronto ON, Canada

Approx. 90 mins with Q&A

8. Digital Transformation and Its Impact on New-Product Management for Manufacturers

For the manufacturer undertaking new-product development, Digital Transformation means smart new products with embedded software. It also means combining software development methods with the more traditional gating process that manufacturers use. The result is a new more agile gating approach, called Agile-Stage-Gate®, already adopted by some leading manufacturers with very positive results. Digital platforms will also be needed to support the embedded software, thus requiring manufacturers to significantly modify their technology development methods. Finally, Digital Transformation offers new tools for product developers – from testing via simulations, to AI to invent or design the product – that greatly accelerate or enhance the new-product process.

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9. How Agile Development Works for Manufacturers – Parts I & 2

This two-part article series addresses the questions: Does this new Agile-Stage-Gate® approach really work for manufacturers? And what adjustments have those manufacturers made to ensure that Agile really does work for them? The article outlines the emerging dominant model for Agile-Stage-Gate®, including the details of the process and Agile procedures that manufacturers typically adopt; the organization and team structure they elect; and even the Agile mindset, suitably modified to best suit manufacturers. A must read for anyone attempting to implement this Agile-Stage-Gate® system in physical products company.   

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10. New-Product Portfolio Management with Agile: Challenges and Solutions for Manufacturers Using Agile Development Methods

When Agile Development and the traditional way of measuring, evaluating, and managing projects clash, companies must reassess how their new-product portfolios are managed, how go/kill and prioritization decisions are made, and how project performance is measured. This article explores the new solutions and emerging challenges at the boundary between Agile project management and portfolio management, and suggests tools and approaches to deal with these new challenges.   

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11. Agile–Stage-Gate for Manufacturers: Changing the Way New Products Are Developed

Agile development methods borrowed from the software industry are now being used by a handful of manufacturing firms for the development of physical products. This article presents six case studies from major firms, and shows that early outcomes are positive, with firms reporting significant improvements in time to market and development productivity. However, they also identified many challenges in implementing Agile–Stage-Gate hybrids.

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12. Determining the Value of Ambiguous Agile Projects With Multiple Iterations Using Expected Commercial Value

Agile Development provides benefits to manufacturers, but also creates new challenges. One is how to place an economic value on Agile projects, which are ambiguous, uncertain, and fluid. The Expected Commercial Value (ECV) is outlined as a tool to gauge the economic value of highly ambiguous Agile projects with multiple iterations. The mathematical derivation of the ECV equations is described in detail.

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13. Meeting the Challenges of Agile-Stage-Gate—Part II

This second in this two-part series (see Part I above) outlines more of these Agile-Stage-Gate implementation challenges, and how some companies are finding solutions.

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14. Meeting the Challenges of Agile-Stage-Gate—Part I

In previous articles (above), Cooper, who introduced Stage-Gate®, reported that “reborn” Stage-Gate systems are integrating Agile methods with traditional gating approaches to yield an Agile-Stage-Gate hybrid model that can be adapted to manufactured new products—and with dramatic results. But there are also major challenges to making this happen—it’s not as easy as simply parachuting Agile methods into Stage-Gate! This first in his two-part series outlines these challenges, and how some companies are finding solutions.

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15. Idea-to-Launch Gating Systems: Better, Faster, and More Agile

This article provides the latest insights into how leading firms are rethinking and reinventing their idea-to-launch gating systems. They are adding elements of Agile to traditional Stage-Gate to add flexibility and speed while retaining structure and rigor. They’re also building in methods to make the process faster, less bureaucratic and also more adaptive and flexible.

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16. Next in New Product Development: Agile-Stage-Gate Hybrids

This article in the CIMS Innovation Management Report summaries the three articles above – a quick look at Agile-Stage-Gate, how it works, the results achieved, and some of the challenges. Although a good summary and introduction, you really need to get into the three articles above for real understanding.

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17. We’ve Come a Long Way Baby and A Collection of Cooper’s Articles

This two-part article series begins with the introductory article “We’ve Come a Long Way Baby”, and is followed by “Collecting Cooper’s Articles”, which contains the other 17 articles Cooper has published in the Journal of Product Innovation Management.

When research into product innovation management began in earnest in the late 1970s, nobody knew much of anything about how to succeed in product innovation. Thus, the theme of much of the research in the years that followed was to probe the “drivers of success”. Some research looked at why new products win or fail; other studies lowered the microscope on businesses and their innovation performance, and sought reasons for their results, both positive or negative; and some focused on particular strategies and methodologies and their impact on performance. Read the complete file on this research and conclusions about what makes a winner in new-product development.

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18. Agile-Stage-Gate: New Idea-to-Launch Method for Manufactured New Products Is Faster, More Responsive

This is the third in the series on the Agile-Stage-Gate approach to product development manufactured or physical new products. Here the emphasis is on B2B firms. New case studies are included to illustrate more details of how the new model works. An important section deals with ten tough issues faced in its implementation, and the solutions that early adopters have tried with success. The article ends with a look at why the new Agile-Stage-Gate model works so well for manufacturing firms... why it delivers what it does!

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19. The Agile–Stage-Gate Hybrid Model: A Promising New Approach

Continues from the RTM article above, but gets into more detail. This article provides insights into the dramatic performance results achieved from Agile-Stage-Gate from a sample of European manufacturing firms, and then into the details of how the new hybrid model works. The article also introduces the “Power of Nine” –- the three new artefacts, three new roles, and three new tools in Agile-Stage-Gate. A case study from LEGO outlies the approach.

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20. Agile–Stage-Gate Hybrids: The Next Stage for Product Development

Provides insight into how leading firms are now beginning to integrate elements of the Agile IT product development method into their traditional gating processes to develop physical products. The trend began first in the IT industry, where Agile and Stage-Gate methods were found to complement each other, and only recently has been seen in manufacturing firms. The benefits of the hybrid model include much faster product releases, better response to changing customer requirements, and improved team communication and morale.

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21. Next Stage for Stage-Gate?

This is a shorter version of the article above, namely “What’s Next After Stage-Gate” -- at look at what cutting edge firms are doing to take their idea-to-launch systems to the next level. The result is what Cooper calls the Triple A System: Adaptive and flexible; Agile; and Accelerated.

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22. What’s Next After Stage-Gate?

As the creator of the Stage-Gate® process, Cooper is often asked, “What’s next after Stage-Gate?” For years, no answers. Now, we’re seeing new approaches emerging from progressive companies that represent a new generation of idea-to-launch processes – systems designed to handle bolder and bigger innovations, and to overcome some of the deficiencies of the traditional gating model. For some firms, the changes are evolutionary, but some are revolutionary. The result is what Cooper calls the Triple A System: Adaptive and flexible; Agile; and Accelerated.

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