Lean Product and Process Development

A business system focused on eliminating waste in product and process development by generating and applying useable knowledge. It is centered on four core concepts:

  1. Grow teams of responsible experts: Organize around product and process technologies that are central to the organization’s competitive advantage. These units develop useable knowledge about their respective areas of expertise, and grow people who can apply that knowledge, generate new knowledge, and communicate that knowledge effectively to multidisciplinary team members.
  2. Support entrepreneur system designers: Give leadership of development projects to technically capable and visionary people who have an entrepreneurial spirit. They provide integrative knowledge to leverage the knowledge of the expert teams in innovating new products and production processes.
  3. Follow set-based concurrent engineering practices: Avoid the pitfalls of locking onto design solutions too early by (a) exploring multiple alternatives simultaneously; (b) aggressively evaluating the alternatives to eliminate weak ideas and improve the weak aspects of otherwise strong ideas; (c) applying tradeoff curve knowledge and design guidelines; and (d) deciding on a solution or solution path only after it is proven feasible. See: Set-Based Concurrent Engineering.
  4. Establish cadence, flow, and pull: Apply principles from lean production to level the introduction of new projects into the development organization, eliminate waste in information flows, and trigger development activities according to the needs of specific projects. (Adapted from Ward 2007.)