Pipeline Accelerator Blog

You Know Your Pipeline Governance Sucks When… (and how to fix it)

Improving New Product Innovation Pipeline Governance
Photo by Kerem K

Improving new product innovation pipeline governance can be a heavy subject. So for a little change of pace, here’s some innovation pipeline humor.

Everyone’s heard the old one about losing money on every sale and then making it up in volume. Well, here’s my newly crowd-sourced list of some of the other questionable things seen in pipeline governance. 

Okay, a few are meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but many are real issues that plague companies every day. Some are even exaggerated for effect. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a kernel of truth worth considering in each.

Thanks to my good friends who contributed to the list. I hope it’s clear which ones are meant to be humorous and which ones should be cause for alarm 😱 

You know your pipeline governance sucks when:

  1. There are projects in your portfolio that are old enough to start kindergarten this year.
  2. The market size discussion starts with, “The overall market is estimated at $200,000,000. If we only captured 1% of that…”
  3. As the gate review presenter drones on reading PowerPoint bullets verbatim, you find yourself wondering, “Would any court actually convict me if I impaled him on that laser pointer?”
  4. New product forecasts should be accompanied by trumpets and a choir of angels proclaiming, “Then a miracle occurs…”
  5. Market need is considered proven because a competitor or one of the big brands has announced they are launching a similar product.
  6. Wait a minute. Is the project leader wearing tap shoes?
  7. Somehow every financial analysis predicts an ROI and gross margin just a few points above the minimum acceptable numbers.
  8. Teams know their projects were approved when puffs of white smoke appear outside of corporate headquarters.
  9. Questions about the market strategy and VOC are met with, “Our plan is to work on that after technical feasibility is proven.”
  10. The rationalization for not killing a questionable project is, “Well, we wanted to make sure we kept R&D busy…”
  11. New product ramp-up plans are such hockey sticks that they should come with NFL season tickets.
  12. Asked about the likelihood of success, marketing responds, “The customer asked for it, so obviously they’ll buy it.” 
  13. You notice that Project Beat a Dead Horse looks suspiciously like a project you killed last year. And the year before that…
  14. During after-launch reviews, you find yourself wondering if the team applied as much creativity in trying to hit their sales targets as they did in coming up with reasons for missing them.
  15. What is this strange new thing you speak of called after-launch reviews ;-) 
  16. You ask, “Why are we funding Project Fight Club?”, and everyone on Zoom whispers, “We don’t talk about Project Fight Club.”

How to Fix it

OK, that’s a little more jocularity too.  Because you already know the fix is more than we can fully unpack in a blog post. Of course,  I can recommend a good book :)  But one thing you can do now is to consider this question.

What can you do to turn your new product innovation governance from a PowerPoint-filling, box-checking exercise into a real live discussion? One that gets down to the essentials of:

  • Why the market really needs the product
  • Job to be done insights about what the product needs to do to be successful
  • Economics for you and the value chain
  • Right to win from a capabilities and market perspective
  • Potential obstacles you face
  • Plans for learning and overcoming those obstacles early
  • Realtime feedback so you can address problems early before they become fire drills

Free Resources That Can Help

If you could use some help around that assessment conversation, get our complimentary Clear Winner Accelerator tool to make sure the programs you work on have all the hallmarks of a winner. 

Get the Clear Winner Accelerator 

And if you’re rethinking your new product innovation pipeline governance, maybe it’s time for a demo of AcceleTrak. Software that gives B2B new product teams real-time visibility into the risks and rewards in their innovation pipeline. All without the hassle of spreadsheets and docs so they can focus on what really matters – delivering their new product revenue numbers.

Schedule Initial Conversation and Brief Demo




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