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Innovative Book on Lean Product Development Updated by the Lean Enterprise Institute

For 25 years, the lean management movement focused mostly on how to continuously improve factory floor operations, not on the processes that created them in design, engineering, and product development functions. The just-published Lean Product and Process Development, second edition, from the nonprofit Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI) corrects that emphasis by showing how to use lean principles to create a fundamentally different and dramatically better way to develop products and services.

“This book is like no other in the product development literature,” said LEI CEO John Shook, former general manager of administration and strategy at Toyota’s North American engineering, research, and development center in Ann Arbor, MI. “With its publication, we are refocusing lean management on product development. Now is the time for these ideas to take the forefront.”

“Product development means more than having the right product,” said James Morgan, PhD, who used lean product and process development concepts while serving as a global engineering director at Ford Motor Company during its product-led revitalization under CEO Alan Mulally.

“In Lean Product and Process Development, Al Ward explains how to create profitable value streams,” said Morgan, recently named LEI’s senior advisor on product and process development. “What that means is you have to develop not only the product but your product delivery system, and it all that has to happen up front.”

“After reading the book you’ll not think about product development the same way again,” said author Durward K. Sobek II, PhD, who revised and updated the first edition by the late Allen C. Ward, PhD.

This new edition builds on the first one by:

  • Adding five in-depth and inspiring case studies:Scania’s R&D Factory; Ford Body, Safety and Stamping Engineering; The PING Story; Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.
  • Including insightful new examples and illustrations.
  • Updating concepts and tools based on recent developments in product development.
  • Adding a more detailed table of contents and an index to make the book more accessible and user-friendly.
  • Expanding the discussion around the critical concept of set-based innovation.

Product Development Problems

Traditional product and process development treats design as iterative in nature. Product development teams generate ideas, zero in what’s thought to be the best one, analyze it to find weaknesses, make changes, analyze it again, and so on until they have an acceptable design.

One of the problems with this approach is that the original idea may be fundamentally flawed or limited which may not be discovered until the development process is far along. The results are quality problems, long lead times, and high development costs due to design rework.

In contrast, Lean Product and Process Development, expounds the breakthrough idea of set-based innovation. Instead of zeroing in on a single possible solution that appears to work well from just one perspective, developers use trade-off curves and other techniques to explore sets of alternatives to the product, its subsystems, and manufacturing process. They work quickly and in parallel in the early stages of development when it’s relatively inexpensive to explore ideas.  This enables the team to incorporate multiple perspectives in design decision-making to arrive at solutions that work well for the customer as well as the broader enterprise, and without the rework.

“It’s a completely different ways of thinking,” said Sobek, professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Montana State University, who was one of Ward’s premier graduate students.

Lean Product and Process Development, second edition

ISBN:  978-1-934109-43-4

Publisher: Lean Enterprise Institute

Author: Allen C. Ward; Durward K. Sobek, II

Publication date: March 31, 2014

Hardcover: 349 pages (ebook versions available)

List Price: $70.00
Discount: 20% discount for 10 or more copies, 30% on 100 or more

Lean Product and Process Development is on sale at the LEI web site at https://www.lean.org/Bookstore/ProductDetails.cfm?SelectedProductId=383&ProductCategoryId=viewAll or by calling 617 871-2900.


For review copies or to arrange interviews, contact Chet Marchwinski at the Lean Enterprise Institute: cmarchwinski@lean.org or 617-871-2930. For background about lean management, visit the LEI web site at: www.lean.org.

About the Lean Enterprise Institute

Lean Enterprise Institute Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Cambridge, MA, makes things better through lean research, education, publishing, and conferences. Founded in 1997 by management expert James P. Womack, PhD, LEI supports other lean initiatives such as the Lean Global Network, the Lean Education Academic Network, and the Healthcare Value Network. Visit LEI at https://www.lean.org for more information.