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Development is a Team Sport

by Jim Morgan
March 26, 2021

Development is a Team Sport

by Jim Morgan
March 26, 2021 | Comments (1)

Be among the first to get the latest insights from LEI's Lean Product and Process Development (LPPD) thought leaders and practitioners. This article was delivered on March 16 to subscribers of The Design Brief, LEI's newsletter devoted to improving organizations' innovation capability. Subscribe now.


The LPPD Guiding Principles

Part one of a six-part series exploring the LPPD Guiding Principles. Read a Post and watch a video introducing the six guiding principles. 

The opportunity to work in and lead teams of experts in product design, process engineering, tooling, and operations over the past 30 plus years has given me a unique perspective on product and process development. One thing this experience has made clear to me is that product development is a team sport. No one person or even a single department can create great products on its own. Great products are created by diverse and talented teams of people from across the organization bringing their skills and experiences together to achieve a common and compelling goal. While working this way is powerful, this approach to product and process creation comes with many challenges.

Fairly early in my career, a Lexus Chief Engineer told me, “it takes a lot of conflict to make a great product.” And in the subsequent years, I have experienced the truth of those words. People from various disciplines,perspectives, and backgrounds who care passionately about creating great products are bound to clash. In fact, a lack of this creative tension in your development system is, for me, a cause for grave concern.

Compromise to “keep the peace” is not the path to great products – you actually need to embrace the tension. What’s required is a way to focus this tremendous creative energy and enable these passionate individuals to operate like a team. That’s where LPPD principles and practices come in.

LPPD tools and methods help people from across the organization to communicate, collaborate, coordinate, and make decisions more effectively. The obeya system, well-designed integration events, design reviews, decision mapping, and the concept paper are just a few practices that enhance teamwork and improve development performance.

This month’s video, the first of six we will be releasing -- one for each of the Lean
Product and Process Development Guiding Principles -- shares the stories of
three teams
who’ve used and benefitted by adopting these practices.


This month’s video, the first of six we will be releasing, shares the stories of three teams who’ve used and benefitted by adopting these practices.

Development is a Team SportFirst, the team from Schilling Robotics, a division of TechnipFMC, shares how the obeya system and other LPPD practices helped them bring together people from across the organization into an aligned team. Together, they developed and launched the most advanced deep-water remotely operated vehicle ever created.

Second, Susan DeSandre, a former Ford and Apple supply chain executive, describes how these two very different organizational cultures worked to build better relationships internally and with supplier partners to improve both development performance and the working environment.

What to Do Next:

Learn to lead new product, process, and service development directly from the foremost lean development thought leaders, coaches, and practitioners. Join us at LEI's Virtual Lean Learning Experience (VLX) for "Designing the Future: How to Execute on Innovation by Putting the Customer First," September 20 to 24. Learn more and register.


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1 Comment | Post a Comment
James Curcio March 31, 2021

As soon as I read the title of this article I was intrigued. "No one person or a single department can create great products on their own." Although at first many people may find the tension bewteen teams or individuals to be intimidating, once it is embraced, the passion and perspectives of different individuals can lead to the production of an outstanding product. 

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