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Katrina Appell

Katrina Appell

Lean Coach

Katrina Appell is a Lean Product and Process Development Coach at the Lean Enterprise Institute. She is passionate about supporting organizations in improvement and transformation with 10+ years of coaching, facilitating, training, and team development experience.

Katrina has experience as a Senior Lean Consultant at Liker Lean Advisors focusing on supporting organizations in lean product and process development and as a Lean Coach at the University of Michigan Health System. Working with Jeff Liker, PhD and Jim Morgan, PhD, Katrina’s doctoral research looked at the effectiveness of different approaches to using lean thinking in complex environments through product development case studies. Dr. Appell is currently collaborating with Dan Cooper, PhD, who leads the Resourceful Manufacturing and Design group at the University of Michigan, to build low-carbon manufacturing principles into product-process development systems through lean product-process development to make this thinking more accessible to companies. 

Katrina co-developed and teaches Designing the Future: A Lean Product & Process Development Immersive Learning Experience workshop. She has previously taught classes for the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in lean manufacturing, lean-six sigma greenbelt, lean healthcare, lean office, lean supply chain for healthcare, lean supply chain and warehouse management.

Katrina has a Ph.D. and M.S.E. in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. She also has a B.S. in General Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she is a member, and was formerly the President, of the Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering Alumni and Advisory Board. Katrina is President of Katrina Appell Consulting Inc. and organizes her thinking by blogging at appell.org.

Articles by Katrina Appell
Cutting Carbon Emissions and Product Costs Through Lean Product and Process Development
As the need to reduce carbon emissions becomes clearer, the need to understand the impact and consciously consider it during the design phase is ever more important, argues Katrina Appel. Lean Product and Process Development (LPPD) principles, methodologies, and management behaviors are a system that enables the environmental impact of the entire product life-cycle to be consciously considered in the design phase. More »
Why Meaningful Improvement Requires a “Growth Mindset”
Today is Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, part of Engineering Week, Feb. 18 to 23. To mark Girl Day, as it is simply called, we’re re-posting a popular article by Katrina Appell, PhD, explaining how the mindsets of leaders affect the bureaucracies they lead. More »
Lean Product and Process Development Group Update: Leading Companies Share and Learn from Common Challenges
The Lean Enterprise Institute recently organized a meeting of the Lean Product and Process Development Learning Group that brought together the diverse industries of sub-sea robotics, appliances, consumer electronics, automotive research, contemporary furniture, and drilling equipment. More »
How Do You Know What Your Product or Service Needs to Be?
What does it take to know what your product or service needs to be? The obvious answer, it would seem, is whatever the customer wants. Katrina Appell explains why there's more to it than that. More »
Better Design Reviews, Better Products
"Design reviews are a common process in product and process development," writes Katrina Appell. And they're common for good reason. Read more to learn why these processes are so critical to successful product and process development, as well as the impact they've had through a real-life story that Katrina shares. More »
Enabling Fast and Innovative Product Development at Bose
Bringing products to market as quickly as possible is a key cornerstone of lean product and process development. With this in mind, Massachusetts-based audio-equipment maker Bose Corporation created a Rapid Prototype Development Center to improve collaboration, creativity, engagement, and ideation-to-market times. LPPD coach Katrina Appell now shares the secrets of the RPDC in this new case study More »
What are the key traits I should look for in a potential Chief Engineer? A Q&A with Katrina Appell
The Chief Engineer is a key cornerstone of lean product and process development. Katrina Appell has been asked many times what traits a potential CE should have in order to ensure the best chance of success. Her answer may surprise you - read more and find out what you should really ask yourself before accepting applications. More »
What's a good "small step" to start off my LPPD transformation? A Q&A with Katrina Appell
A lean product and process development transformation may seem daunting, but all you really need to get started is a series of simple yet effective "small steps.  " Here's Katrina Appell on her favorite. More »
Generating Multiple Alternatives is Not Necessarily Waste
"I was once asked: 'How is set-based design lean? Isn’t designing multiple alternatives creating waste and the opposite of lean?'” writes Katrina Appell. It's true that generating multiple alternatives can seem like waste, especially since only one alternative will be used. But the reality is much different - read more. More »
Seeing and Understanding the Work in Product and Process Development
"The role of most lean tools is to enable problems to be identified or to enable problems to be solved," writes Katrina Appell. "An important part of being able to identify problems is being able to see them. But what do you do when the work being done is typically only visible on a computer?" Read more to find out the answer, More »
The Problems Inherent in Change – and What You Can Do about Them
Anyone who's been involved in an organizational transformation knows that its challenges go well beyond resistance. Katrina Appell sheds some light on the deeper challenges presented by change management plus some helpful solutions for getting past them. More »
Change Management: Is it Necessary?
"There are varying views on the role of change management in a lean transformation," writes Katrina Appell. In her latest blog, she evaluates the opposing viewpoints and offers a viewpoint of her own for good measure. Read more. More »
Value Stream Mapping and Obeya: Key Enablers for Better Product Development
For an organization to be continually relevant and profitable, it needs to develop products and processes that consistently create value. But how exactly do you create the required organizational capabilities and supporting leadership behaviors? Read more. More »
Lean Thinking On Purpose
Katrina Appell reflects on a provocative op-ed by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times from earlier this year and asks some big questions of lean thinkers. Are we sharing what we know about lean in a way that's accessible? As a lean community, in what ways are contributing to society? More »
Cost Reduction, Waste, and Purpose
"Eliminating waste makes it easier to see and find problems, which is the first step to solving them," writes Katrina Appell. "It removes frustrations, which improves worker and customer satisfaction.  " More »
Workshops Taught by Katrina Appell
Designing the Future: A Lean Product Development Immersive Learning Experience This two day workshop is targeted towards practitioners with an immersive experience applying LPPD principles while developing a product. Since LPPD is an enterprise activity, managers, leaders and continuous improvement agents in an organization are encouraged to attend. More »
Designing the Future: An Introduction to Lean Product & Process Development (at the 2019 Designing the Future Summit) Let’s be honest, much of the kaizen we do in our respective gemba is just reworking what the development system should have done differently in the first place.    We have cottage industries within our organizations, called Continuous Improvement or Operational Excellence, which are simply reworking the efforts of many smart and well-intentioned people, working in a broken system.    Much kaizen is, in fact, rework.    Likewise, these cottage industries have become permanent fixtures in many organizations, not evolving since their inceptions.  A critical milestone in Lean was the publication of the book, The Machine That Changed The World. If More »