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During my time at Bucknell I spent about 2 years working as a student consultant for the Engineering Development Services division of Bucknell’s Small Business Development Center. The projects that I was assigned varied over time but the process through which each one passed at the SBDC varied only slightly. The process of new product development at the SBDC (see Flexi-Trac in Sources below) is modeled after what is known as the Stage-Gate Product Innovation Process (S-G PIP):
The Stage-Gate® Product Innovation process is a carefully designed business process – the result of the world’s most comprehensive research into understanding what discriminates product success and failure. Pioneered and developed by Dr. Robert G. Cooper, it is the world’s most widely implemented and trusted product innovation process.
A Stage-Gate Process is a conceptual and operational roadmap for moving a new-product project from idea to launch. Stage-Gate divides the effort into distinct stages separated by management decision gates. Cross-functional teams must successfully complete a prescribed set of related cross-functional tasks in each stage prior to obtaining management approval to proceed to the next stage of product development.
Over time I grew more interested in the process and acquired a few books from the library and purchased others that dealt with the issues surrounding successful product development strategies. Without an exception, all these books explained the product development cycle using Stage-Gate, but each offered a somewhat differing account of how the process was to be implemented.
For my final paper, I would like to explore the Stage-Gate process in detail and to analyze the management and organization structures that enhance the chances of successful product development.I will also explore the ways in which the process can be optimized and what implications does such optimization have for the structure and environment of the organization within which product development is taking place.
While the Stage-Gate process and its optimization may be associated with certain changes in the organizational structure, it should be noted that the goal of my paper is not to discuss innovation of organizational structure, but to discuss the organizational structures that best support innovation of new products (and services).
The intended audience for my paper can be anyone from the curious student consultant to a product developer looking for a beginner’s guide to organizing for success in the field of product development. I believe that my work experience as a student consultant with the SBDC will go some way in helping me understand the material and presenting it in language that is easy to understand.
The biggest challenge will be to present a ‘most effective’ implementation strategy after studying various strategies for the use of S-G PIP.