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What Did the Pandemic Teach Us About New Product Development?

What Did the Pandemic Teach Us About New Product Development?

In this post, you will find questions and answers from an incredibly timely and informative webinar that provided crucial new product development best practices based on lessons learned from the pandemic. The information collected in these Q&As will act as valuable assets for anyone wanting to make clear the real need for more adaptive product development and to show that an accelerated process is still highly possible, even in the face of consistent disruptions.

The bulk of the webinar is based on a recent research paper—Accelerating innovation: some lessons from the pandemic—published by Dr. Robert Cooper in the Journal of Product Innovation Management. The paper outlines six key practices for accelerating new product development and innovations based on examples from companies representing various industries. However, our discussion with Dr. Cooper mainly focuses on three of those six practices:

  1. Effective Portfolio Management
  2. Lean Development
  3. Agile Stage-Gate

After the presentation, to our happy surprise, attendees posed a ton of questions to the panel. The Q&A session resulted in close to 45-minutes of additional discussion, some of which had to take place outside of the live event.

Because the Q&A portion of this webinar was so comprehensive, covering key accelerated product development topics, we are providing this short post that arranges this valuable information into bite-sized pieces.

The questions have been split into two broader categories below.

Q&A from Accelerating Innovation: Lessons Learned from the Pandemic

Click the headings to go directly to that category, where you can download a PDF containing the specific Q&As addressing these topics, along with some helpful data points you can share with your team.

In each answer, Dr. Cooper presents various perspectives with actionable guidance concerning common new product development and innovation struggles product development leaders are dealing with today, such as:

  • How to breach new ideas around resource management and capacity planning with leadership
  • Best practices for organizing and scoring the products and innovations
  • Tips on value stream mapping in a virtual setting
  • Where to begin with an agile-stage-gate approach to innovations
  • Timelines for implementing software that supports an agile-stage-gate approach to product development

Addressing Agile-Stage-Gate PPM Implementation Challenges

In his paper on Accelerating innovation, Dr. Cooper makes the case that “firms can respond quickly and pivot with innovations.” Still, the key is not just to compress the time it takes to get from point A to point B but to “re-think the firm’s innovation process and methods.”

Enabling cross-functional teams to visualize work in their preferred methodology can lead to greater efficiency and collaboration.

Rethinking the pathway to product development often means approaching things from multiple perspectives and combining different production methodologies. Dr. Cooper suggests combining elements from Lean methodologies (value stream mapping) and Agile methods (incremental and iterative) in his paper.

However, implementing such change and getting people onboard with approaching their work in a new way can be challenging. The questions covered in this download talk about getting started with Agile-Stage-Gate and how to get a team to buy-in.


Resource Allocation, Capacity, Planning Best Practices

A global view of your entire product development ecosystem is critical to accelerating innovation from a position of strength and intelligence. In addition, organizations also need to rank and prioritize projects with intention—based on value, resources, and other vital factors.

There are many ways to accomplish this within an Agile-Stage-Gate methodology, meaning there are many questions on execution. The majority of our questions feel into this download here. 


Almost three-quarters of executives stated that they believe changes brought about by the pandemic will lead to greater opportunities for growth and innovation.

McKinsey Innovation through Crisis Survey, April 2020

Based on the responses gathered in McKinsey’s survey on innovation during a crisis, the lessons conveyed in this webinar could not be more relevant. The lessons shared in these Q&As, the webinar, and the Dr. Cooper paper also mirror what some of the most successful organizations are doing to respond to change according to our own insights.

Consider an Adaptive New Product Development Strategy

As opposed to knee-jerk reactions or relying on the status quo, based on a TechRuum benchmark report, organizations that successfully execute on a strategy of adaptation:

  1. Replan continuously
  2. Employ lean and agile practices broadly
  3. Generate actionable data to inform decisions
  4. Invest in technology to understand the impact of change

One prevailing theme that came out of the Q&A seemed to be that, while leaders acknowledge the pandemic and other related changes have brought about opportunities to innovate, the path forward for some is still unclear. What is abundantly clear is that doing things the same way for new and innovative product development is not the key to acceleration.

Watch the full webinar on-demand to find out how your organization can use these lessons to light a pathway to choosing the right innovations and delivering them quickly and efficiently.

About Dr. Robert G. Cooper

Creator of the Stage-Gate® Process

BOB COOPER, One of the most influential innovation thought-leaders in the business world today. He pioneered many ground-breaking discoveries in product innovation, including the Stage-Gate® Idea-to-Launch Process, now implemented by almost 80% of North American companies. Having spent 40+ years studying the practices and pitfalls of 3000+ new product projects in thousands of companies, he has assembled the world’s most comprehensive research in the field of product innovation management.

A prolific author, Dr. Cooper has published 130+ academic articles and thirteen books, including the best-selling Winning at New Products, now in its 5th edition. He is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards including the Crawford Fellow from the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) and the Maurice Holland Award from the Industrial Research Institute (IRI). He is also Professor Emeritus of Marketing and Technology Management at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University, and a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for the Study. (From:

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TechRuum Inc is a world class information technology company committed to use the best business practices to help companies develop the capabilities needed to compete in the global market. TechRuum partners with its clients to achieve success in the global markets with its specialized expertise in providing Onsite, Offsite and Offshore IT services and solutions. TechRuum’ core competency lies in enabling its clients to reduce the cost and complexity of deploying information technology while ensuring reliability, scalability, and manageability.

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