Stage-Gate (Cooper)

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Managing product development. Explanation of the Stage-Gate model of Robert G. Cooper. ('88)


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What is the Stage-Gate model? Description

The Stage-Gate method from Robert G. Cooper is an approach that can be used to make the product development process more effective. It is a blueprint for managing the new product process. From an idea to launching a product. In a number of predetermined steps, or stages. Each stage consists of a set of certain cross-functional and parallel activities which must be successfully completed prior to obtaining management approval to proceed to the next stage of product development. The entrance to each stage is called: a gate. These gates, which are normally meetings, control the process and serve as:

  1. Quality control
  2. Go / Kill check-points. Readiness-checks, Must-Meet criteria, and Should-Meet criteria.
  3. Marker for action plan for the next phase.

Stage-Gate is a registered trademark of Product Development Institute Inc.

Origin of the Stage-Gate methodology. History

The method is based on the experiences, suggestions and observations of a large number of managers and firms in over 60 cases as observed by Robert Cooper. The term "Stage-Gate" first appeared in an article by Cooper in The Journal of Marketing Management, 3, 3, Spring 1988. An even earlier version can be found in Cooper's book: "Winning at New Products", 1986.

Usage of Stage-Gate. Applications

  • Product Development, Innovation.
  • Component of Portfolio Management.

Steps (stages) in the Stage-Gate model. Process

The Stage-Gate process is preceded by a Discovery stage, which was added in a later version of the original model which had only 5 phases. It contains pre-work designed to discover opportunities and to generate new ideas.

  1. Scoping. A quick, preliminary investigation of each project. Provides inexpensive information by desk research to enable narrowing the number of projects.
  2. Build the Business Case. A much more detailed investigation by primary marketing and technical research. The business case must include a product definition, a product justification and a project plan.
  3. Development. A detailed design and development of the new product, along with some simple product tests. Also a production plan and a market launch plan are developed.
  4. Testing and Validation. Extensive product tests in both the marketplace, the lab and the plant.
  5. Launch. Beginning of full production, marketing and selling. Market launch, production / operations, distribution, quality assurance. Post-Launch Reviews are performed.

In reality, it is necessary to drill down further into the sub-activities to provide detailed and operational instructions for the innovation team.

Robert G. Cooper's Stage-Gate model

Strengths of Stage-Gate methodology. Benefits

  • Well-organized innovation can be a source of competitive advantage.
  • Accelerated product development. Necessary because of shortening product life cycles.
  • Increased success chance of new products. Prevents poor projects early and helps to redirect them.
  • The model breaks down the complex innovation process in large corporations in a number of smaller pieces.
  • Provides overview, which enables prioritization and focus.
  • Integrated market-orientation.
  • Cross-functional. Involves input and participation of employees from various functions in the organization. No separate R&D or Marketing Stage. But see above Discovery.
  • Can be combined with various performance metrics, such as Net Present Value, etc.

Limitations of Stage-Gate. Disadvantages

  • Although within a stage activities can be conducted in parallel, the Stage-Gate approach is basically sequential (waterfall). Some innovation experts believe that product development should actually be organized in parallel, using loops.
  • The original Stage-Gate framework did not deal with the Discovery process and the activities to create new ideas.
  • A tension exists between organizing and creativity. Both are very important within innovation.

Book: Robert G. Cooper - Product Leadership - Pathways to Profitable Innovation -

Stage-Gate Forum
  Stage Gate Revisited
Whereas most Stage Gate models have a qualitative, non-financial orientation, Strat/Assess is a funnel innovation model, that can be used as a version of and in combination with the Robert G. Cooper Stage-Gate Model. Also it aligns as a more c...
  Stage Gate Models Need to Be Quantified and Be Made Measurable
Stage gate model results are too qualitative: what gets measured, gets done!
Strat/Assess can be used as a version of and in combination with the Robert G.Cooper Stage-Gate Model and aligns with the Bell-Mason Diagnostic for:
1. New busines...
  Iteration in Stage-Gate Model (Dr Cooper)
This model is good for new product development but its execution appears to be sequential in nature.
(How) is the idea of iteration incorporated in the model?...
  Stage-Gates are Not Limitative
The stage gate model is a widely used model, not only for product innovation but also for all projects. It is part of the Prince2 project management method.
Note that the the phases and number of gates are...
  Stage-Gate Process for Quality
Has anyone applied the stage-gate process in an actual new product development for the specific purpose of improving product quality and customer satisfaction? What were the results?...
  My Views on Innovation in Countries
1. The political leadership has the major say to promote innovation since it controls the environment, and environment is the first thing which gives scope for development of innovation.
2. Depending on the political leadership the drive for inn...
  A Good Time to Innovate
I am not surprised that innovation has become a dominant buzzword in the world of business today. The time to try out new ideas and new and simplified ways of doing things cheaper, faster and better is now. Now that we are faced with world eco...
  Students' Lack of Innovation
Many students simply study study study.
Many students coming out of school have simply done what the instructor told them to do; none of them are given a chance to show any initiative; many of them cannot do anything without specific instruction...
  Innovation in Emerging Economies
How do we create an enabling environment for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship in emerging economies?...
  Innovation versus Improvisation
What separates innovation from improvisation?...
  Estabish a Distributed Innovation Group
In an article entitled "Teaming Up to Crack Innovation and Enterprise Integration, James Cash, Michael Earl and Robert Morison suggest to establish a Distributed Innovation Group (DIG) to deal with the problems of harvesting innovations, alloc...
  Ten Commandments for Intrapreneurs
Besides a staged innovation process, intrapreneurs are also important in successful innovation. Norman Macrae used the term intrapreneur for the first time (in a survey called “The coming entrepreneurial revolution” in the Economist, December 25, 197...
  Agenda for Stage-Gate Meeting?
What is the draft process for a Stage-Gate meeting?...

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Best Practices - Stage-Gate Premium
  Involving End Users in the Innovation Process
Is it reasonable to involve end users in the innovation process within the company (during product development) at all the stages of the Stage-Gate model?...
  Innovation Leadership
The main challenge to improve innovation is how to develop leaders which stimulate and sustain innovation instead of just looking at the bottom line figures.
An innovative culture is the consequence of the behaviour and decisions of the l...
  Tip: 10 Red Flags for Innovation
Interesting statement for discussion in Business Week:
"There's no surefire way to guarantee success in innovation".
Stefan Lindegaard offers 10 helpful suggestions or common pitfalls to avoid." Very recognizable I think:

Expert Tips - Stage-Gate Premium

Success Factors for Stage-Gate Implementation

In his article “Implementing a Stage-Gate Process: A Multi-Company Perspective”, O’ Connor analyzed several cases in which the Stage-Gate proce...
Usage (application): Imlementing Stage-Gate Processes

How to Find Good Product Ideas? List of 10 Approaches

In his book “Product Leadership: Creating and Launching Superior New Products”, Robert Cooper suggests following ten ways to great new-product ...
Usage (application): Discovering New-Product Ideas, Creative Approaches

Stage-Gate Implementation CSFs

So far Stage-Gate method has been widely recognized as the best New Product Development Process, although there can be significant difference among co...
Usage (application): Implementing the Stage-Gate Process

Innovation Pitfalls

Note that Stage Gate is focused mainly on the innovation PROCESS. Harvard Professor R. Moss Kanter describes 4 common innovation mistakes and correspo...
Usage (application): Avoiding Innovation Traps

Advantages and Disadvantages of Stages and Gates

+ Stage - Gate processes have been highly appreciated as they tend to confine investment in the next stage until management is...
Usage (application): Innovation Management, Stage-Gate Implementation

Benefits of Outsourcing Innovation

Michael A. Stanko, Jonathan D. Bohlmann and Roger J. Calantone (“Outsourcing Innovation”, Executive Adviser, November 2009) argue that outsourcing inn...
Usage (application): Improving Innovation Performance

Setting up a Stage-Gate Organization. Best Practices

To obtain successful outcomes from Stage-Gate it is essential to define roles and responsibilities of all people involved. It is necessary to s...
Usage (application): Stage-Gate Roles and Responsibilities

Key Challenges of Internet Age for Management and for Product and Service Development

The Internet age represents a huge challenge for most businesses. Why?
  1. Because the Internet, wireless devices such as mobile phones in co...
    Usage (application): R&D, Product Development, Service Development, Strategy, Marketing, Innovation, Visioning

Recent Innovation Trends | New Innovation Types

Roland Bel (2012) outlines and explains four types of innovations that have become more and more important since the last decade. These recent inno...
Usage (application): Open innovation, User Innovation, Value Innovation, Bottom-up Innovation

Innovating Bottom-up or Top-down

Check out 2 recent articles by professor Deschamps on ...
Usage (application): Corporate Innovation Approaches

How to Detect Consumer Needs that are Unmet?

In their article New Business Models in Emerging Markets" (Harvard Business Review, January-February 2011), Matthew J. Eyring, Mark W. Johnson, and Ha...
Usage (application): Product Innovation, New Product Development, Innovation Strategy

Cooper's Innovation Diamond (tm)

Also look at Cooper's Innovation Diamond (2005) with (besides the Stage-Gate System) three more factors leading to succesful product innovation:
Usage (application): More Factors Leading to Succesful Product Innovation

Another Product Launch Method: 4 I's

I use a Process of 4 I's when coaching planning processes. The process is similar to S/G above but the 4-I's are easier to remember:
Usage (application): Stage-Gate Alternatives

When Should a Firm Consider to Outsource Innovation?

According to Michael A. Stanko, Jonathan D. Bohlmann and Roger J. Calantone in the article “Outsourcing Innovation” (Executive Adviser, November 2009)...
Usage (application): Outsourcing Best Practices, Innovation

Innovating Under the Radar

If somewhere below in a large corporation an innovator has a very bright, daring, promising but for some perhaps also threatening idea, the traditiona...
Usage (application): Avoiding 5 Obstacles to Major Innovation

Alternatives to Stage-Gate Approach

An alternative product development technique called "The Bounding Box" has been recently pionereed by Phd Laura Doyle. This is a management ...
Usage (application): Innvation Management

Pitfalls and Obstacles in Product Development Strategy

Although product development can be an important growth strategy, it is necessary to keep in mind that several factors tend to hinder this strategy: Usage (application): Product Development, Product Portfolio Management

Control and Measurement Method

To deeply understand performance and effects of Stage-Gate as NPD Process on an organization, an effective measurement and control system should be se...
Usage (application): Tracking Stage-Gate Performance

The Mandate of NPD and the Degree of Change that is Required

When using the Stage-Gate process, a strategic implementation plan is advisable to avoid stakeholders’ disappointment regarding the New Product Develo...
Usage (application): New Product Development, NPD Process Improvement

Alternate Product Launch Method

Steelcase CEO James P. Hackett describes the following product launch stages:
- THINK (Ponder, Query, Read and research, Network, Document),
Usage (application): Stage-Gate Alternatives

How Culture Levels Explain Failures in Organizational Learning and Innovation

Schein (as cited by Bertagni et al., 2010) tries to elaborate on the question why organizational innovations often fail or are only successful in the ...
Usage (application): Improving Organizational Learning, Organizational Innovation, Changing Organization Cultures

How to Lead an Innovation Team

In order to become a great innovation team leader, Ram Charan suggests in the article "P&G's Innovation Culture" (strategy+business, Autumn 2008, Issu...
Usage (application): Best Practices, Innovation Team Management

Characteristics of Organizations with an IT-driven Business Transformation Strategy

Today organizations need to move quickly through a wide range of business transformations, often caused by new and complex technologies. These technol...
Usage (application): IT-driven Strategy, IT-led Strategy, Competitive Potential, Innovation Accelerators, Disruptive Innovation

Creating Organizations to Produce Breakthrough Innovations

Since 50 years, the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been very successful in producing an incredible amount of breakth...
Usage (application): Best Practices, Critical Factors, Creating an Organization to lead Radical Innovation

How to Design Experiments to Support Decision-making on Strategic Innovations

The probability of success of a major innovation is difficult to assess. Statistics and other datasets only provide information about past beha...
Usage (application): Strategic Innovation, Strategic Decision-making, Strategic Experimenting, Experiments, Strategic Testing, Innovation Tes

The Role of Diversity in Personal Traits on Innovation and Innovativeness

New research by Hewlett, Marshall and Sherbin proves that diversity (of personal and team traits) drives innovation and fuels market growth, although ...
Usage (application): Innovation, Increasing Organizational Innovativeness

Three Critical Capabilities in Developing a Strategic Corporate Disruptive Innovation Competence

Skarzynski and Rufat-Latre (2011) discovered that the successes of disruptive innovators are driven by 3 critical capabilities, which are important le...
Usage (application): (Disruptive) Innovation Competence, Strategic Innovation Capability, Corporate Strategy, Innovation Leadership

A Closer Look at How Change and Innovation Decisions are Made

Kim, T (2015) elaborates on decision making on "non-routines" or innovations. According to him, non-routines can be seen as innovation in the sense th...
Usage (application): Decision-making on Organizational Change, Innovation Decision-making, Contingent, Participative Decision-making

What Makes a Company Innovative?

A Futurethink Innovation Tracker Survey (2006) mentions:
- Ability to create a climate that continuously fosters innovation
- Creative thi...
Usage (application): Innovation Best Practices, R&D Best Practices, Corporate Innovation

Resources - Stage-Gate Premium

Improving Product Development Processes to Manage Development Risk

To create new products, firms employ a product development process (PDP) to generate new product concepts, to translate the best of these concepts int...
Usage (application): Innovation of Product Development Processes

How to Manage Creativity in Organizations

This presentation elaborates on the management of creativity in organizations, and includes the following sections:
1. Objectives
2. Innovat...
Usage (application): Innovation Management, Managing Creativity, Managing Creative People, Fostering Creativity in Organizations, Creativity

3 Key Benefits of Cross-Functional Teams for Innovation

In innovation you need a team of people with the right mix: the members should come from different departments like Marketing, R&D, Engineering, Custo...
Usage (application): Innovation, Team Work, Multicultural Teams, Bureaucracy, Multi-Functional Teams

Introduction to Managing Creativity and Innovation

Presentation about Innovation and Creativity, thereby mainly focusing on creativity in organizations. The presentation includes the following sections...
Usage (application): Innovation Management, Managing Innovation, Managing Innovative Employees, Managing Creative Employees

Concept Testing and Conjoint Analysis for New Products

Presentation about concept testing and conjoint analysis, including the following sections:
1. Evaluating with Customers
Usage (application): Concept Test, Concept Statement, Conjoint Analysis, Product Design, Product Innovation

Stage-Gate Diagram

Download and edit this 12manage PowerPoint graphic for limited personal, educational and business use. Republishing in intranets, websites, books, ma...
Usage (application): Innovation Management


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Stage-gate Cooper


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