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Understanding Lean Product and Process Development: An LEI Explainer Video

by Lean Leaper
August 28, 2020

Understanding Lean Product and Process Development: An LEI Explainer Video

by Lean Leaper
August 28, 2020 | Comments (0)

Learn what Lean Product & Process Development (LPPD) is, why it's critical in developing successful value streams, why companies struggle to implement its practices and principles -- and where and how to learn more.

Josh Howell: Hello, everyone, and hello, panelists. My name is Josh Howell. I'm here on behalf of the Lean Enterprise Institute to host a discussion with a panel of distinguished thought leaders on the subject of Lean Product and Process Development, otherwise known as LPPD. I have a few questions that I'm going to toss out about LPPD overall, why it's important, and why organizations struggle to implement LPPD's practices and principles. So, without further ado, let's get the conversation started.

LEI Virtual Lean Learning ExperienceThe Virtual Lean Learning Experience 2020 (VLX), hosted by the nonprofit Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), features a two-week immersion into LPPD principles and practices. Register and hear from the foremost practitioners and coaches how you can design your company's future with LPPD. For more information about:

Why is LPPD so important to achieving a lean enterprise?

Jim Morgan: To start, maybe a little bit about what LPPD is. In my view, it's a set of principles and practices that we first identified at Toyota and have since evolved in a number of different industries that promote collaboration, transparency, rapid learning in the development of both process and product simultaneously, leading to the creation of really effective value streams. When you think about that and you think about where product development is in an organization, your degrees of freedom for designing that value stream for really designing your future state is much greater than it is in any other activity in organizations.

When you add the fact that product development, when done well, engages just about every function in the organization from not only engineering and marketing, which are obvious, but also manufacturing and supply chain and finance, it's really an opportunity to bring the organization together to design its future.

Jim Womack: So, if you have not designed the production process properly, well, we know we're going to be doing rework, and an awful lot of the kaizen that has taken place in the life of the lean community is in fact reworking a defective process that never should have been created that way to begin with.

Same thing with marketing and sales. If you get it wrong in terms of what the customer wants and you launch the product, well, then you're immediately into rework, known as discounting or all kinds of spiffs in the car industry and promos and so forth, which were actually avoidable if you had just listened to the customer and then through LPPD translated that into what the customer actually wanted. So, that's the negative. Let's avoid rework. Jim's already given the positive. You put those two together, and you've got some great reasons to do LPPD.

Why have so few companies applied LPPD principles successfully?

Jeff Liker: Product development is sort of invisible. You don't see anything until you actually get a product, and it's a big time delay so it requires thinking longterm, even though the benefits of lean product development of having a product or service that customers really want, they're excited about, they're better than their competitors that customers are even willing to pay extra for, even those benefits are huge compared to the benefit of saving a few cents here and there on cost. It's just not the way we think as humans. Normally, we want the immediate visible benefits.

What's important to LPPD success?

Jeff Liker: The leadership is very important. We talked about the chief engineer role who's an overall system architect, and that seems to be a very important intervention, and then having a strong cross-functional team that meets regularly and stays together is very important. We've sort of come to the conclusion that basically what you're doing is creating a high-performing team.

So, we've heard that LPPD is more than simply TPS for lean applied to engineering. But can you help us understand how it's different?

Eric Ethington: I think it's really important to know where you are, know where you're starting before you try and figure out where you're going to be going. One of the things that we've been able to work with multiple companies over the last few years in the LPPD initiative is to start with companies and map something real and recent.

Jim Womack: Well, we know the life of lean. I mean, I said this, but the life of lean is experiments. It's not abstract theory.

What are some of the highlights or takeaways that an attendee of the Virtual Lean Learning Experience's LPPD sessions, Designing the Future, can expect?

Eric Ethington: Last year, we had this really neat vibe of what I call just honest sharing, both organizations sharing their very significant achievements and what they managed to pull off and then also sharing their stumbles and what they learned from them and how they did some course correction from there. I heard a lot of comments about that. The other thing is, is I heard a lot of comments from other people and different folks that if you listen between the lines, maybe you did some exchange of nouns in your had, you can start to see how this LPPD is not just for people who have a physical product with parts that go together. It can apply to media. It can apply to health care. It can apply to services. What is the value you create? There was also a lot of those aha moments going on within the folks who attended.

Jim Morgan: We have a group of people who are in senior leadership positions who have been working with the LPPD principles and practices for a significant amount of time. They have, I think, just invaluable lessons that they can share from their industries. It's the level of sharing that's going on with just super knowledgeable and experienced people.

Jim Womack: I want to bring in the folks who are out there and say, "Gosh, you could learn some of this too. You could learn what's possible." I want to help people understand that help is possible, that people who do operational improvements, people who do improvements in sales and marketing, could also have a voice in the product and process development process. They might even learn enough that they could be useful with companies that have so far not come to the table. That's a big thing for me is getting folks who have had a fatalistic view to have an opportunistic view, "Hey, what could I do with this?" I think that would be a great thing. I'm hoping we're going to see those folks.

Eric Ethington: My recommendation to people coming to the summit is to come in with open eyes and really come in not to scrutinize the people who are presenting, but rather, to come in and really learn something from them. We've done a lot of work finding a really great mix of presenters, thought leaders, practitioners.

What advice do you have for those attending the VLX, so they can get the most out of the experience?

Eric Ethington: I'd say come in with a learning attitude. There's a lot of great speakers that we've selected for very specific reasons. Another thing is, maybe bring a set of questions. What are some of the things you're trying to learn, you want to understand better? What are some of the issues that you are having in this space?

Final thoughts?

Jeff Liker: What we're really talking about is creativity and innovation and getting groups of people to bring their best ideas and play off each other and really think about the customer and how they can create something really exciting for the customer. The process of creation in a team environment is just fun and exciting. It applies to almost every human endeavor.

Jim Womack: Those members of the lean community who have not been paying attention are saying, "I'll think about lean product and process development later," well, why don't you do it now?

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