The decision management process related to “fail fast, fail early, fail often” is Stage-Gate Development.  The idea of Stage-Gate is that innovating work can be decomposed into “stages” of work which are evaluated at defined “gates” to decide whether to continue to the next stage or not.  Stage-Gate formalizes the “fail early” idea by prescribing a “go – no go” decision at each gate.  The belief is that as a solution idea passes each gate, the chances that the solution will be successful increase.  

Stage-Gate provides some necessary discipline to an innovating process.  But in practice, the Stage-Gate Process can broaden and deepen the moat due to structural and execution issues.

  • Stage-Gate processes tends to start with evaluating ideas, depending upon the Gates to eliminate solutions that won’t work.  This creates the same elapsed time and cost issues that “fail fast” programs have.
  • It’s not always obvious how to decompose a project’s work such that all stage activities converge and stop for the “go – no go” decision at a Gate.
    • Project work is often happening in different stages even though an embedded gate decision hasn’t been made.
  • Every project has a different work flow and activity sequence requiring the Stage-Gate process structure to be newly configured for each project.
  • The “gate” decision implies a comparison of current stage results against a target to make the “go – no go” decision.  The gate target is often poorly defined.
  • The Stage-Gate Process can over-emphasize NPD and under-emphasize the management of changing the status quo.  A good solution can fail at deployment because the dynamic friction generated during the project reinforces the status quo.

Having your innovating projects yield innovations is problematic for many businesses.  The stability moat that businesses create to prevent disruptive change to the status quo are necessary for short term performance.  But innovating becomes even more difficult when the processes you employ make the stability moat harder to cross.

Agile Innovating TM is an innovating business system that purposefully identifies and reduces the sources of uncertainty that reinforce the stability moat throughout the project.  Contact us to increase your innovating hit rate, yielding more innovation faster, making innovation the norm. 

Scroll to Top