New product processes—formal “stage‐gate” systems for driving new product projects from idea through to launch—have been widely adopted in the last decade, and have generally had a strong and positive impact on firms' new product efforts. While these Second‐Generation roadmaps represent a major improvement over the NASA‐based first generation process of the 1960s, they too have weaknesses: too time consuming and too many time wasters, too bureaucratic, and no provision for focus. Here, Robert Cooper speculates about the nature of an emerging next generation of new product processes. He proposes fundamental changes to today's “stage‐gate” systems that revolve around four Fs: they will be fluid and adaptable; they will incorporate fuzzy gates which are both situational and conditional; they will provide for much sharper focus of resources and management of the portfolio of projects; and they will be much more flexible than today's process. The end results should provide companies with a much more efficient road‐map, bringing products to market faster and improving their use of scarce resources. But pitfalls are never far away in our evolution towards these Third‐Generation Processes.
The Journal of Product Innovation Management – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 1994
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