Wagile is a hybrid product innovation process using a combination of features from traditional staged-and-gated processes and the Agile philosophy. We take the “W-” from the waterfall systems that emphasize structure and planning, and the “-agile” from software development systems that are iterative and adaptable. The key elements of Wagile are:
- Move Fast,
- Practice Discipline,
- Understand Risks,
- Engage Customers, and
- Provide Autonomy.
Read more on the Wagile philosophy here.
We have discussed the idea of moving fast to learn in a recent post on Wagile stages. We’ve also discussed the importance of discipline to manage risk in an article on Wagile gates. Last week we began a deeper dive into Wagile tools that both empower teams and engage customers.
Product innovation is only successful when you ensure your customers are satisfied and their needs are met through product delivery. Customers purchase products when the perceived value is greater than the price they pay for the goods or services they acquire. Of course, value is determined through the eyes of the customer which is why an effective new product development (NPD) system requires active customer engagement.
Let’s take an example of running shoes. I have paid anywhere from $35 to $125 for running shoes. Unfortunately, my favorite sporting goods store went out of business. I often could purchase a great pair of shoes there at a bargain price because they were not the trendy color for the season. Other people, however, would never buy a pair of white shoes if black was in fashion.
My perceived value of the running shoe was composed of the longevity and comfort in the shoe. The other person’s value was in the look of the shoe. Still other people buy Michael Jordan shoes for hundreds or thousands of dollars, and never intend to wear them or even take them out of the box. Their value in ownership is completely different.
When you are investigating a new product, you must understand your customers’ perspective of value. You must interact with customers to know what drives their purchasing decision. And, different segments of the market will seek different variations of a product to meet their needs (shoes to run in, shoes to look good in, shoes to collect and display).
Wagile Activities are Customer-Focused
In each stage of the wagile process, customer engagement is a focus. Every gate approval includes a plan for gathering, analyzing, and verifying customer feedback for the new product or service. As a reminder, the Wagile Stages and Gates include:
- Opportunity Identification (Idea Gate),
- Business Case (Functional Gate),
- Technical Development (Technology Gate),
- Scale-Up (Constructability Gate), and
- Production (Launch).
Trial and Validate
In Stage 1, Opportunity Identification, customers are exposed to new ideas and the product innovation team tests various features for product development. The main purpose of Stage 1 is to validate customer problems and to gauge the value (or benefit) that they perceive in a new product solution.
The project passes Gate 2 only if a feasible business case is presented and the technical development plan is attainable. Customers are exposed to concepts of the new product, whether as a narrative or as a prototype, in order to gauge their long-term interest. At this stage, it is important to understand the value drivers for a person in the target market. Will they buy the new product and at what price point?
Build and Test
In Stage 3, Technology Development is in full swing of the Wagile process. While small scale, qualitative testing is completed during earlier stages, the technology is fleshed out in Stage 3. As the engineering design and market parameters are established, customer feedback is crucial to gauge profitability. Pilot tests of both process and product provide information from vendors, suppliers, and customers. Large-scale, quantitative testing validates earlier stage research. If not, the product may be recycled to find a more cost-effective production method. And if it still does not yield an attractive cost-to-benefit ratio, the idea is killed.
As the product innovation process moves from Technology Development to Constructability Reviews at Gate 4, prototypes are tested for functionality, reliability, and manufacturability. Customer interactions are varied from those that initially tested ideas and concepts to (perhaps) new segments that have been identified during the development process testing. At this stage, data is quantitative and often uses statistical analysis applied for decision-making.
Measure and Manage
Finally, as new products are launched into the marketplace (Stage 5 of Wagile), the Product Leader takes the leading gathering customer satisfaction metrics. (See Wagile Role Descriptions here.) Products must not only satisfy the target market but also bring in expected income, gain market share, and be adapted for future growth. Continuous customer engagement, for instance via customer panels or social media surveys, allows the organization to monitor new product development success.
Are your product launches ho-hum or are you struggling to keep up with the pace of change in industry today? Wagile is the answer!! Join us on 10 November (2-4 pm CST) for a deep-dive in Wagile Product Development Process. All participants receive an evaluation of their current innovation system maturity and a personalized work style assessment. Space is filling fast for this interactive virtual course – register now (https://simple-pdh.com/product/wagile-prod-dev/).
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I am inspired by writing, teaching, and coaching. 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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