Jim Morgan, PhD, author, and LEI senior advisor of LPPD at the Lean Enterprise Institute, previews the six guiding principles of LPPD and explains why they are critical to the successful new product, process, and service development. Morgan developed the principles over 20 years of working with organizations–including as a product development executive at Ford, and most recently, COO of startup Rivian–to improve their product, process, and service development capabilities.
Product development is essentially about creating new value, whatever form that value might take–a service, a physical product, a process–and the impact that it can have on an organization is absolutely massive because it represents all of the value-creating activities that are ongoing in that organization. If it’s fragmented, you can create silos in your organization. And it can lead to delays, cost overruns quality problems. It can do tremendous damage both to the culture of the organization and to the overall performance of the organization.
So if you’re thinking about improving your product and process development system, we want to provide some guiding principle in the sense that we want to share what good looks like.
What’s so powerful about lean product and process development is that it takes a systems approach to improving your development performance. It works with people, with processes, and technologies in order to optimize the overall system.
But people can become very dogmatic about their lean, which can limit their thinking, their ability to innovate, and their opportunity to make these principles their own.
These principles have evolved over 20-some years of working with organizations on their product development capability. And in that work, we’ve identified six guiding principles or key characteristics of effective development systems.
- Understand before you execute
- It’s a team sport
- Synchronize workflows
- Build-in learning and knowledge reuse
- Create new value streams
- It’s a people first system
Understand before you execute means to deeply understand your customer and their context to experiment to learn, to hone in on what your unique value proposition is for that specific customer–before you start the detailed development work.
It’s a team sport means that we need to engage the organization in developing products. We need people from design, engineering, manufacturing, installation. And we need them all to collaborate and work together to maximize the value you’re creating for your customer.
Synchronize workflows: Creating flow is a very basic lean principle, but in development, we have the additional challenge of coordinating workflows from across the organization. LPPD helps us to synchronize those workflows and maximize the benefits of concurrent development.
Build in learning and knowledge reuse: Learning and discovery, and the ability to share that learning with the rest of the organization is foundational to great product development. Not only learning, but then how to apply that learning to the development process to the next product. It can be a huge competitive advantage.
Creating new value streams: Instead of products in isolation is foundational to lean product and process development. And what we mean by that is thinking through every step required to deliver this value to your customer. So for traditional physical products, it might be design, engineering, manufacturing, delivery, and thinking about how to bring innovation and value-creating activities to each of those.
People First: The people-first principle should be woven throughout a lean development system. The system should be designed to engage and challenge people and help them to do and be their very best.
These principles have been successfully applied to a wide variety of industries from automotive to sub-sea to consumer electronics, appliances, heavy equipment, and even a clinical process in a healthcare environment. Our aim is to continue to grow our community, to help other organizations improve their development capabilities and their work environment. So I hope you’ll join us in changing the way new value is created.