Stage-and-gate processes are necessary, but not sufficient.

A new product development process with stages and gates provides helpful discipline. But most suffer from two limitations: 1) Internal focus… talking to ourselves instead of customers. 2) Analytical thinking… promoting a checklist mentality. You also need discovery thinking, with a focus on learning. Unlike analytical thinking, this is fragile and must be nurtured.

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When analytical and discovery thinking compete in NPD processes, expect the former to dominate.

Analysis looks for what has been done wrong; discovery for what could be done right. Failing to discover opportunities is a costly error. Paradoxically, it is most often forgiven. In fact, if your team fails to develop a blockbuster because it missed a critical customer need, no one will even notice. At least not until a competitor does a better job.

More in executive briefing, Should Your Stage-Gate® Get a No-Go?