An alternative to Stage-Gate process?

As a NPD practitioner associated with Product Development Management Association (PDMA) of USA, I take a passionate interest in knowledge related to the practice of innovation in organizations. I recently bought a book titled – 8 steps to innovation – Going from Jugaad to Excellence by Mr.Vinay Dabholkar and Rishikesha T. Krishnan.

And, I will critic the author’s presentation on the topic of innovation (a little play as a Devil’s advocate included!) as they build an abstracted approach (8 steps) to innovation based on their observations related to innovations across organizations.

Please note that as a NPD practitioner, I am open to fresh thoughts and perceptions related to the field and in no way my criticism is presented in comparison to my existing knowledge learnt from PDMA (albeit a structured process like Stage-Gate is proven successfully across organizations in the world).

The 8 steps to innovation does not seem to be a structured and sequential process. And I believe, these steps are the result of insights that the authors have gained while understanding the process of innovation in various organizations.

This brings me to the question: What should be the basis or platform on which I can critic the authors work (insights) that defines 8 steps to innovation?

I picked the title of the book: 8 Steps to Innovation – Going from Jugaad to Excellence.

Excellence, as I understand, is the quality or state of superiority achieved by an organization by proving her ability to repeat success consistently across measurable performance indicators. And, Jugad implies an inexpensive and coarse solution to a problem.

And, I was wondering if the authors tried to hand-hold organizations in moving from Jugad to Excellence by building a systematic process of innovation by executing a sequence of 8 steps.

The authors seem to have made some headway by attempting to systematize “fuzzy front end” of innovation (building an idea pipeline). But, increasing the idea velocity and improving the batting average looked disconnected to be part of a systematic innovation. Here’s why:

- Once an organization has a net of ideas, there has to be a process to evaluate these ideas based on customer requirements/ market potential. This crucial step that evaluates if the idea has a market (or not), is implemented in Step 6 (iterate on the business model) AFTER development and incubation steps are completed (Steps 4 and 5)!

- Also, in the steps for improving batting average, authors borrow a phrase from one of the top 100 management thinkers in the world, Mr.C.K.Prahlad, “Innovation Sandbox”. Prof.Prahlad uses the phrase in the context of defining constraints WHILE designing the specifications for the product, that is, when the product is BEING developed (Step #4 as mentioned by the authors).

To me it is like the authors really do not mean that the steps should be executed in sequence! Hence, my observation of disconnect as noted above.

In conclusion, I feel that the authors have made a hotchpotch attempt to put together a set of seemingly disconnected processes that may not present a comprehensive or a structured process for taking organizations towards systematic innovation, which eventually helps them towards a path of excellence in innovating new products. On a positive note, I appreciate the case examples presented by the authors on innovations in various organizations.