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What’s Next After Stage-Gate

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Referring to the Lego case and the Lego article, how does Lego’s approach to innovation align/contrast with Cooper’s thoughts in his article, What’s Next After Stage-Gate?

Does your company have an Innovation System? Why or why not? Could it benefit from one?

In the Cooper article What’s Next After Stage-Gate we learn of the transformation of the state gate concept to one called the triple-A strategy which more closely follows Agile methodologies as used by software developers. One of the key differences between state-gate and triple-A methods is the spiral or iteration concept, where at each stage of the development some aspect of the design is built and the customer is engaged to try it and provide testing and feedback early on before the finished product1. Lego adapted some of this approach through the development of their Future Lab. Lego employees do customer research then go to the Future Lab to develop new ways to play based on their knowledge of the customer. This follows the model by studying user wants and building it into the business case using design thinking techniques2.

At Colgate, I work in the Information Technologies department and have been using an agile innovation system in our software development for several years now. Only recently we have begun to build our innovation systems in other areas as well such as product development. One of the concepts Legos used with crowdsourcing ideas we also tried on toothbrushes. However, we found cases as discussed in this week’s lectures that customers do not always know how to iterate what they want3. For example, a surprising amount of idea responses from the customer was to make toothbrushes more “sexy.” However, there is no indicator of what they meant by this. So, we have reeled in the crowdsourcing ideas to instead try to understand and know the customer better through building customer profiles and basing knowledge on this. This is a similar concept to Lego’s ability to profile that young boys prefer to have a narrative in their play while young girls tend to prefer role playing2. In Colgate, there is a database of profiles we can pull up that would show us many traits of the average person so that we can study wants and needs. We also have an engagement center to collect feedback on different products or packaging way before it has hit the market. Many studies I also participate in as if a customer to give feedback on a certain aspect of a product before it has hit the market, in exchange for company store credit. Employees also are a good and cheaper panel for products though likely come with biases as well. We still are working out the kinks to implement this further in areas and recently have really begun to apply it to packaging. It will be interesting to see how it evolves.

Cooper, R. G. (2014, January/February). What’s Next?: After Stage‐Gate. Retrieved from https://www.stage-gate.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/wp_52.pdf



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