A modern approach to Stage-Gate: Innovation and risk management for Scale-ups

The Framework: Agile + Lean + Stage-Gate

The idea behind this framework is very simple: leveraging best practices we have accumulated in recent years of digital product management (Agile & Lean) within a more traditional and standardized process. A “framework of frameworks”, in reality.

Balancing Cost, Risk and Time — also, this would not be a Product-related article without a Venn diagram

Initiatives, Stages, Gates and Review Committee

As in a traditional waterfall Stage-Gate process, our framework is composed by Stages (a specific phase of the initiative) and Gates (the formal review point that decides which initiatives will go to the next Stage); Initiatives start as simple ideas and eventually evolve into a full working new feature or product as they go through each Stage and Gate.

Stages

Each stage is trying to answer a very specific question:

Concept (“convince me”)

This is the most important stage of the overall process: in this phase we are trying to make some order between exciting yet somehow confusing ideas for a new product/feature: by “forcing” the proposing teams/individuals to use a standard, extremely simple template, we homogenize the initiatives, make them comparable, and also extremely readable, by eliminating the bull**it and focusing on the content.

Prototype (“show me evidence”)

Once an initiative makes it to the Prototype stage, the real fun starts: teams will have a limited amount of Time and Resources to validate the most critical hypothesis of the Initiative.

MVP (“show me results”)

At this Stage teams have been able to collect enough evidence to support the Initiative — which eventually can be quite different from the initial idea, thanks to the cumulated learnings. It’s time to allocate more resources and time and take on some more Risk; time to build a first Minimum Viable (or Lovable) Product and focusing on proving product/market fit.

ROI (“show me the money”)

We are almost there: MVP proved to be successful against the initial success metrics; now it’s time to prove that the MVP can evolve into a fully fledged Product/feature that can be successful at scale.

Growth (“make me rich”)

When the Initiative reaches this Stage, we are now at the end: we have proven the problem/solution and product/market fit, validated financial viability, now it’s time to focus on growth: the Product is now part of the company portfolio, resources will be allocated permanently; growth, consolidation and/or international expansion are the topics at hand for the Product team. Normal operations and processes are now built around the product.

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Gino Micacchi

Gino Micacchi

VP Product at Brainly | ProductTank BCN organizer