Innovation Workflow

Teresa Kowal
4 min readOct 22, 2020

Watch the 37-second video summary and then read on for more details.

For several weeks we have been discussing the Wagile product development process.

· Wagile Philosophy

· Wagile Roles

· Wagile Stages

· Wagile Gates

· Wagile Tools

· Wagile Activities

Wagile is a hybrid project management process that blends the discipline of a waterfall system (“W-”) with the adaptability of an agile process (“-agile”). Customer orientation is a key component of Wagile.

Like all project management approaches, Wagile follows four primary steps that link to team behaviors. You can learn more about Wagile in our upcoming 2-hour course on 10 November (2–4 pm CST) and you can learn more about team behaviors in an article here. The innovation workflow is described below.

Generate Ideas

The first step in any project is to define and describe the purpose of the effort. It may be as simple as “freshen up the garden at my house” to as complex as “build a new petrochemical plant”. Regardless of the scale of the project, we always start with defining the scope of work. In innovation, we must also discover customer needs and identify potential product functions and concepts to address those needs.

When you look around your organization, who is best suited to help generate ideas? In the language of Team Dimensions, we call these folks “Creators”. Creators enjoy coming up with new ideas and can formulate concepts that are interesting and creative. Successful innovation teams balance Creators with other work styles to ensure they capture disruptive ideas.

Build Support

Once we have generated an attractive product concept, the innovation workflow moves to gathering support for the idea. This includes negotiating resources and investing in preliminary testing. Other activities at this stage involve concept testing with potential customers to refine the idea. A set of tools and an approach called Design Thinking is extremely beneficial at this stage. You can learn about Design Thinking at our complimentary Q&A webinar on 11 November 2020. Register here — spaces are limited so we can ensure an interactive discussion!

Team members called “Advancers” are skilled at generating product support at this phase. Advancers split behaviors of capturing new ideas and putting them into a familiar context. This is why we want to have team members that are exceptional at listening and promoting as part of the innovation team.

Create the Project Plan

Some people are really good at planning. Of course, we want these folks, who we call “Refiners” in Team Dimensions language, to layout the required work to accomplish project goals.

As history teaches us, no project plan is perfect. However, we do need to plan the work and convert customer needs into actionable tasks. That is the real purpose in creating a project plan. An added bonus of planning is that we are able to better anticipate risks and building quality to both the process and the product. (Read more about Risk Analysis in a special download for the University of Houston Sustainable Energy Development course materials here.)

Execute the Work

We only earn revenue when we complete a project and commercialize the new product innovation. We need to do the work of the project! Team members will build and test the product at scale during the execution stage.

Folks that are good at executing are usually good at troubleshooting. Their behaviors are methodical and normative. They can convert 2D drawings into functional, working equipment. In Team Dimensions, we call the people that love to get their hands dirty “Executors”.

Work Styles and Workflow

Successful innovation teams match the preferred work style of team members with the phase of the innovation workflow. Employees are happiest — and most productive — when they are working on tasks they enjoy. Each of us can stretch beyond our preferred work style (Creator, Advancer, Refiner, Executor) to do other tasks. Yet we can accelerate the innovation process the most when we match preferences of work styles with workflows.

Learn More

Recently, I discussed the benefits of the Team Dimensions model at the Texas ACMP Conference this year and with Chad McAllister on the Everyday Innovator podcast. You can listen to the podcast here (about 30 minutes).

When you join the Life Design Master Mind group, we will review your work style assessment in a confidential one-on-one coaching session and you will learn to apply Design Thinking skills to personal and professional decisions. Register for the complimentary introductory session here (11 November 2020 at 11 am CST).


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About Me

I am inspired by writing, teaching, and coaching. I tackle life with an infusion of rigor, zeal, and faith. It brings me joy to help you build innovation leaders. Teresa Jurgens-Kowal is an experienced innovation professional with a passion for lifelong learning with a PhD in Chemical Engineering and an MBA in Computer and Information Decision Making. My credentials include PE (State of Louisiana), NPDP, PMP®, and CPEM, and I am a DiSC® certified facilitator. Contact me at or area code 281 + phone 787–3979 for more information on coaching for entrepreneurs and innovators.

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Teresa Kowal

I tackle life with an infusion of rigor, zeal, and faith. My passion is innovation and helping others improve their new product development ecosystems.