Sunday, May 12, 2013

Applying LEAN Principles to Product and Process Development

For the first 15 or 20 years of my career as a scientist and technical manager, I thought I was doing new PRODUCT development. It wasn't until I began my lean journey did I realize I should have been thinking about Value Stream development. 

Innovation can be defined as as the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, government, and society. Sounds quite a bit like the benefits of being a lean organization, right? In fact, the culture of a learning organization is PERFECT when the focus turns how to become more innovative. Innovation guru Doug Hall states in his book, "Jump start your Business Brain", "if you're not meaningfully unique, you'd better be cheap!". Becoming the fastest company in your marketplace is innovative. Being the easiest to do business with is also innovative. Offering new products or technologies no one else has is also very innovative. 

Lean and innovative thinking have one major thing in common. A laser-like focus on your customer. In the words of my longtime colleague and friend Mark Paggioli, innovation is the ability to anticipate and solve your customer's FUTURE problems. I developed 10 stages of value stream development at my company in 2007, based on the thinking of the late Allen Ward, a true pioneer in the discipline of lean product and process development. Each of the 10 stages is completed in A3 fashion, with involvement and consensus of people from all departments from "idea" to "commercialization". 

Using this approach, over 30% of all products sold in 2011 were less than 5 years old! Over 20% of all products sold were less than 3 years old. This was accomplished by leveraging the diversity of many people in the company. As always, the best result always comes from using as many brains as possible!

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog I'd love to appreciate this one dear author, well I'd like if you ever look for Lean Products,and share your opinion as well , thanks to sharing !