Allen C. Ward, PhD
Al, an original pioneer into lean product development and how Toyota practiced it, was a leading U.S. researcher, practitioner, and thinker about lean product development. He developed a new design theory called set-based design that simultaneously explored multiple solutions for every subsystem of both product and manufacturing systems. He found engineers at Toyota practicing a form of set-based design and began years of researching the company’s development practices with Durward Sobek, PhD. Later, as assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan, Al’s paper on Toyota's development processes received a Shingo Research and Professional Publication Awardas did his breakthrough book, Lean Product and Process Development.
He was the president of Ward Synthesis, Inc., a company that designed and built electro-mechanical systems, design automation software; and provided training product and process design methods. He was a member of the executive committee of the National Academies of Science and Engineering's Board on Army Science and Technology. Al served for 10 years in the U.S. Army, reaching the rank of Captain, completing airborne and combat leadership training at the Army’s Ranger school in Ft. Benning, GA.
Al held bachelors’ degrees from the University of Oregon and University of Hawaii in history and mechanical engineering, respectively. He also held master’s and doctorate degrees from MIT. Sadly we lost Al in May of 2004.
Durward K. Sobek II, PhD
Durward is a professor and program coordinator of industrial engineering at Montana State University and co-founder of the nonprofit Lean Product and Process Development Exchange, Inc.
He is co-author with Allen C. Ward of Lean Product and Process Development, 2nd edition, and co-author of Understanding A3 Thinking: A Critical Component of Toyota's PDCA Management System, which received a Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award. For over a decade, Durward has researched lean product development and lean principles, focusing on how organizations can use them to increase performance capacity. A frequent conference presenter, he also has published numerous articles in publications such as Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, and IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management.
He holds a doctor's and master's degree in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor's degree in Engineering Sciences from Dartmouth College.
Many people think that Lean is primarily for production operations, but the same Lean thinking can be applied effectively to knowledge work such as product development. Though originally written for a traditional manufacturing product development context, this book contains many insights for rapid, breakthrough product development in high technology environments as well. In an era when rapid innovation is key to survival in many industries, this book is a must-read.