Specialty Food Magazine

Summer 2018

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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The Stage-Gate methodology involves the following six principles: Principle 1: Optimize the Entire Innovation Process Look at your process from where you start to generate ideas all the way through to when you begin to generate money. "Far too many organizations only deal at the very front or very back end or just with development," said Jones. "As a leader in your organization you'll have to help bring people who are involved in developing projects at least to an understanding of how ideas are generated and how to take them through to commercial success. They need to see that big picture. Unless they have that, they're not able to perform to their fullest potential." Principle 2: Embrace Risk by Managing It The easiest way to manage a big complicated project is to break it into pieces that can be more effectively managed, hence the word "stages," said Jones. Each stage represents an increasing commitment of dollars and/or resources. After the discovery phase, the stages and their purpose are as follows: 1. Scope. The purpose of this stage is a quick and inexpensive assessment to size-up the opportunity. 2. Design. Feasibility of options and recommended product definition, customer desirability and business viability. 3. Develop. Rapid iterations of design prototypes to confirm customer desirability and business viability. 4. Scale Up. Pilot scale up of the winning prototype for field trials and early customer adoption to confirm value. 5. Launch. Ramp up to full production and scale up sales and distribution capability. Each of the stages is purpose-built and goal-driven, rather than time- driven. And process rigor is "right-sized" to the risk and context of each project. "You don't have to apply a lot of rigor to a small project, but if it's brand new and kind of risky, you're going to want to apply rigor in every single step," explained Jones. Principle 3: Accelerate the Creative Process Take an idea from a partially defined to a fully defined state. "Most of us aren't expert communicators and if people aren't seeing your vision it's because you've not fully defined it yet," said Jones. "If it doesn't exist, you can't very well describe it at the beginning so use the process to help add clarity to the idea. The idea is to take a partially defined idea and find ways to add pixels [to the picture] as quickly as you can. That's the trick with speed to market. How few pixels can we put into the picture before we know what it is and then we're off to the races." Principle 4: Options-Based Decisions " The concept of Stage-Gate is whenever you say 'yes' to the project, you're not saying 'yes' to the entirety of the project," said Jones. " The top performers learn to check in on the projects at critical points and ask 'should we do this?' 'does this make sense?' Separating the emotion from a good, relevant decision is important. The best per- formers evaluate these opportunities on merit alone, not emotion. The idea is if it's weak and not continuing to improve, we kill it." "Gates" or stopping points at which the decision to proceed or not is made, precede each of the five stages. At these gates, busi- ness merit and the potential to make money are evaluated. "The concept of options-based decision making is you want the right to continue [with a project] but not the obligation to. Separating the emotion from a good, relevant decision is important. The best performers evaluate these opportunities on merit alone, not emotion. The idea is if it's weak and not continuing to improve, we kill it." FALL 2017 141 article bug SUMMER 2018

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