Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Zequn Wang

Advisor 2

John Gershenson

Committee Member 1

Junhong Min

Committee Member 2

Andre Laplume

DOI

10.37099/mtu.edu/dc.etdr/747

Abstract

Stage Gate Management (SGM) has been used successfully by global organizations to direct the New Product Development process (NPD) for years, recently a new variant of this venerable approach has emerged. Researchers and firms have begun to intersperse elements of Agile, as popularized for the development of software, to create an Agile – Stage Gate Management (ASGM) hybrid NPD framework. Agile practitioners believe in process waste reduction, an intense focus on customers, and the creation of nimble entrepreneurial project teams, which, for software products, has positively impacted development time to market, resource utilization, and market success, more generally, improved business outcomes. For NPD professionals responsible for physical products, not solely software, do these Agile tenets continue to produce results? With minimal available research, a Grounded Theory study was conducted to inductively create theory from the implementation of ASGM, specifically for firms that design, develop, and manufacture physical products. Twenty-nine experienced industry professionals were interviewed from four global companies which represented five distinct Business Units (BU) which competed in a variety of markets and industries around the world. From these interviews, a Content Analysis approach was employed to organize primary and secondary themes which illustrated NPD team practices. Additionally, a comparative multi-case study method further developed specific Agile/Scrum techniques implemented, the measures of business success realized, as well as, a new ASGM model for like firms. From this research, firms which developed physical products did not implement all Agile practices, only Team Interface, Product Demonstrations, and Specification Flexibility were uncovered. The cases did, however, subjectively realize an improved time to market, as well as, greater product success for projects commercialized using ASGM. Lastly, a new framework emerged which highlighted the unique practice of Agile behaviors earlier in the development process, but rigid, or SGM-like, activities closer towards product launch.

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