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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 15+ 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
Coach's Corner: Designing the Entire Value Stream from Concept to Product End of Life
The life cycle of a product is tied to the value stream that starts and ends it, with that cycle having implications because of environmental impacts. Katrina Appell explores this idea in this week's Coach's Corner. More »
Coach's Corner: How to Design a Knowledge-Sharing System
Does your organization have a knowledge-sharing system that nobody uses? Here's how to fix that, according to LEI Senior Lean Coach Katrina Appell. More »
Coach's Corner: Why Your Development Plans and Obeya Practices Aren’t Working – and How to Fix them
What's missing in your development plans and obeya practices, according to Senior LPPD Coach John Drogosz. More »
Coach's Corner: How to Design a Knowledge-Sharing System
Encouraging learning and knowledge reuse in your development process takes more than a system to capture it -- you must create a system that people will use. Here's how. More »
Why it’s Better to Focus on Value, Not Waste
Learn the benefits of shifting your focus from eliminating waste to increasing value, along with two of the best value-creating opportunities, according to LEI Senior Coach Katrina Appell. More »
How to Show Respect During a Pandemic
Lean Coach Katrina Appell shares how to use Maslow's hierarchy of needs to clarify how to show respect for people during a pandemic. More »
How A Virtual Obeya Can Enable Effective Teamwork
With the pandemic forcing organizations to adapt to new, socially distant working arrangements, we need to create systems that help people collaborate to solve problems, says Katrina Appell. Here she details effective ways to use a virtual obeyas. More »
The Value of A Visual Schedule is Developing Shared Understanding
People closest to the work should understand it best, so they are in the best position to share what the work is including what they need from others on the team, argues Katrina Appel; this enables the team to put together a realistic schedule that they believe in. More »
Product Development Is Where to Cut Carbon Emissions; Here's How
Consumers want products updated more frequently, which is great for consumers and business but not so great for the environment because a third of man-made carbon emissions come from production processes, notes Katrina Appell, PhD, who explains how product developers can balance these competing forces. More »
The Dark Side of Concurrent Engineering
One of the fastest ways to reduce development lead time from concept to market is to work concurrently. But as product development coaches Katrina Appell and John Drogosz point out, many managers and engineers jump into concurrent engineering without the requisite understanding and planning of the work to be successful, leading them to the dreaded “Dark Side of Concurrent Engineering.  ” More »
12 Wastes of Product & Process Development
The wastes found in manufacturing are well known and relatively visible. But as you move upstream into the very different realm of product development, wastes become harder to see but are just as prevalent. This list of a "dirty dozen" PD wastes, courtesy of Katrina Appell and John Drogosz, will open your eyes. More »
4 Core Principles of Lean Product and Process Development Explained
The ability to consistently create “insanely great” products, as Steve Jobs would say, is the ultimate competitive advantage. But many companies struggle to develop profitable products and services on time with the best quality and least waste. Lean product and process development (LPPD), a powerful and proven set of principles and practices, will help any company dramatically improve its development capability. LPPD practitioners John Drogosz and Katrina Appell summarize its 4 core principles. More »
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 Remotely: A Lean Product Development Immersive Learning Experience Join us for a 6-day learning experience and learn how to deliver products or services customers want, fast. More »
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 »