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Moving Beyond Stage-Gate Project Management

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Rainbow Gallery Tunnel, Rotterdam, The Netherland

Scripted approaches struggle with the challenge of changing human behavior.

Credit: Getty Images

German automaker BMW and European airline Air France have developed new approaches to managing large projects aimed at creating fundamentally new products or ideas that profoundly alter human behaviors. Traditional approaches, such as the stage-gate process, while effective at incremental improvements, don't work as well when it comes to breakthrough innovations or attempts to change established behaviors.

Some of the new approaches harken back to the Manhattan and Polaris projects, with their reliance on iteration and experimentation, while others rely heavily on the principles of fair process.

Whenever novel and change projects are funneled through a stage-gate process, they risk getting destroyed because they seem to violate the discipline and tightness of the stage-gate process. Sooner or later every company is going to have to learn new approaches, and be able to apply them.

From Harvard Business Review
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