Born in heavy
manufacturing, the traditional phase-gate approach is the
oldest and by far the most common innovation paradigm in the world.
It breaks innovation into a series of sequential phases, with gates
that must be cleared before you can proceed to the next phase.
Ideally, the criteria for passing through each gate and the person
(“gatekeeper”) who decides whether the criteria have been met are
clearly defined beforehand. The project progressively gains
maturity, which is tested at each gate until completion. The gates
provide a clear and distinct mechanism to ask and answer the
question, should we continue? Driven by the need to reduce the risk
of change when ordering expensive tools with long lead times, the
phase-gate model’s hallmark is an early “design freeze” that creates
a stable target for the reminder of the innovation process.