For several weeks, we have been posting about the Wagile innovation process.
Wagile is a hybrid new product development (NPD) process that brings together the best of waterfall (“w‑”)project management systems with Agile systems used for software development (“‑agile”). The outcome is an innovation process that has a deep focus on customer needs while managing risk (investment) through a disciplined approach.
Product Innovation Tools
Most innovation processes include checklists of what has to be done and when. In a traditional staged-and-gated process, the business case must be completed in order to pass a certain gate. Market testing must be completed before going to market with a new product, etc. (Read more about product innovation tools here.)
Likewise, Scrum specifies a checklist of features (known as the “product backlog”) to complete during a sprint. Sprints are short periods of time in which the project team works on the list of tasks provided by the business. Tasks that are not finished in the prescribed two- to four-week period are added to the “sprint backlog” and rollover to the next sprint – akin to a never ending “To Do” list.
What’s missing in both the traditional waterfall and Agile processes is the “How To.” Of course, every project is unique and different. The fun and beauty of working in innovation is the variety and diversity of tasks, activities, and projects. Yet, each time we encounter a new situation, we can (and should) follow a given process to understand the situation (such as risk analysis) and to design solutions. In Wagile, we deploy a set of innovation tools to tackle the “how to” of each stage of work.
Wagile Stages and Gates
Wagile Stages and Wagile Gates are designed to involve the customer. After all, no innovation is valuable unless it meets a need in the marketplace and is saleable. Wagile tools use Design Thinking methods to gather customer insights and couple those inputs with measurable decision and performance standards. As a reminder the Wagile Stages and Gates are indicated here.
- 1: Opportunity Identification (Idea Gate)
- 2: Business Case (Functional Gate)
- 3: Technology Development (Technology Gate)
- 4: Scale-Up (Constructability Gate)
- 5: Production (Launch Gate)
Design Thinking Tools
To learn more about Design Thinking tools, read our previous post Tools for Product Innovation based on the work of Carlos Rodriguez (Delaware State University). Design Thinking is a customer-focused methodology to creatively and collaboratively solve customer problems. We involve the customer in defining problems and in creating solutions. We work collaboratively with cross-functional teams, both internally and externally. We ask questions and we listen.
Early in the Wagile product innovation process, we use observation and interviewing to gather customer insights. The Design Thinking tools of customer empathy map and customer journey map are deployed in Stage 1 (Opportunity Identification) to discover and define the customer problem. Download information on these tools here. An important outcome of the tools and activities in this stage is to determine if the gain for the customer is greater than the pain of acquiring and learning a new product.
I try to maintain a high level of fitness. I swim, bike, and lift weights. Recently, my husband got me a new Fitbit that allows me to track all exercises instead of just counting steps. It’s very convenient as I only have to select the correct icon, push start, and then press finish for each activity. And if I forget, the device automatically senses that I am cycling instead of running and tracks the calories burned.
However, I do not wear my new Fitbit when I go swimming. The pain is greater than the gain. Since swimming is still under the arbitrary restrictions of corona-panic, the pool is only open for 45 minutes at a time. My existing swim tracker records the number of laps, strokes per lap, efficiency, and calories burned. I would incur a transaction cost (lost time in the water) to calibrate my swim watch with the Fitbit. Right now, I view that cost as higher than the benefit (one device for all activities). Your customers will also weigh costs and benefits as they consider purchasing a new or updated upgraded product.
Design Tools in Wagile
Each stage in Wagile is defined to include specific tools to evaluate cost/benefit of an innovation. Design Thinking tools take the perspective of the customer. Later stages in Wagile use financial assessment tools (coupled with customer satisfaction measures) to determine cost/benefit from the company’s perspective. Remember organizations are in business to make money and deliver value to shareholders. Join me on 11 November for a Wagile tutorial and learn to apply Design Thinking tools in your innovation process! Register here.
- Check out where I’m speaking next (click here) and book me for your next event.
- Get your copy of The Innovation ANSWER Book available at Amazon (now available on Kindle).
- Vote on the cover of my next book, The Innovation QUESTION Book here.
- Reference the new PDMA Body of Knowledge, available at Amazon.
- Get your NPDP Certification! Join our October online class (Thursdays) following the brand new, 2nd edition PDMA Body of Knowledge. REGISTER HERE!
I am inspired by writing, teaching, and speaking at great professional events. I tackle life with an infusion of rigor, zeal, and faith. It brings me joy to help you build innovation leaders. Teresa Jurgens-Kowal is an experienced innovation professional with a passion for lifelong learning with a PhD in Chemical Engineering and an MBA in Computer and Information Decision Making. My credentials include PE (State of Louisiana), NPDP, PMP®, and CPEM, and I am a DiSC® certified facilitator. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or area code 281 + phone 787-3979 for more information on coaching for entrepreneurs and innovators.
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