A manager’s guide
by Dr Colin Mynott
Lean product development (LPD) is the application of lean principles to product development, aiming to develop new or improved products that are successful in the market. It is a cross-functional activity that seeks to uncover product knowledge hidden within the end-to-end production flow, typically in the hand-over points between functional units. LPD deals with the complete process from gathering and generating ideas, through assessing potential success, to developing concepts, evaluating them to create a best concept, detailing the product, testing/ developing it and handing over to manufacture. LPD is performed against a background of continuously assessing and reducing risk of market failure.
Lean Product Development: A manager’s guide explains what needs to be done in order to successfully complete the complex task of developing products. It describes how you set up and run each project according to its particular needs and covers planning your profitability, cutting out waste, creating a market winner and how to control risk. It also contains some practical tools and techniques that help to cut time and cost.
When you run the product development process, it’s like planning a journey. First of all, you plan your route from a map (or maybe you don’t; some product developers just drive in the least congested direction - unplanned opportunism, ending up where they regret). So don’t make the mistake of wading straight into most of these books without first having devised your route. That could sometimes be akin to minutely examining the road surface outside your house rather than planning your route. Possibly interesting but not the best use of your time and could be misleading. You may find it useful to have more explanation first to understand which bits of detail you need to study.
The following volumes form a concise library you can refer to for detail explanation of particular operating aspects of the process. You can dip into the particular part of the work referred to in Lean Product Development - A manager’s guide (above) where you need detail guidance on the how-to that perhaps you have not tried to operate before.
David Allen, FT/Pitman UK
(Out of print but available from WP@Mynott.com, price £60/$100)
A definitive handbook on product planning. David has spent his life doing it - an excellent account of experience and lessons learned.
A descriptions of why and how teams work and the mix of personalities that achieves the best performance.
John Bicheno, Picsie Books
The reference guide to the tools and techniques of lean operation and lean enterprise. Excellent read-across to how you organise product development - an essential reference.
Cranfield University UK, CIM Department, 1999
ISBN 1-87131-575-1 (phone 01234 754 108)
(Also available from WP@Mynott.com, price £60/$100)
A workbook developed by installing the techniques at a number of companies. You resolve problems with full team working across all functions. Any company can use it to install the processes effectively, using the lessons learned by others who faced and overcame the problems.
Cusumano and Nobeoka, The Free Press, 1998
How the largest automobile manufacturers are running their product development process for multiple projects; comparison of a number of systems with the Toyota system. Some interesting lessons that non-auto companies could adopt.
Don Clausing, ASME Press
A manual on many of the detail aspects of the process of developing products. (Don Clausing is Professor at MIT.) Especially useful on operating QFD, investigating customers and optimising costs and concepts.
Colin Mynott, The IET (see above)
A manual that sets out exactly what you do to plan your product development programme then put it into action. A step by step management guide to the total process.
Pahl and Beitz, Springer-Verlag
A manual that is especially good on design principles and developing the engineering detail of products.
How you apply vital tools to the development process, including creating a economic models, why facility queues occur and how you deal with them, product architecture, information from failures, risk, metrics and more.
Rother and Shook, Lean Enterprise Institute, 1999
A workbook on how you analyse “value streams" to help you analyse where you waste effort, on your way to implementing the Toyota production system. Can be applied to any process, whether production or administrative.
Shigeo Shingo, 1988
A treatise on how you put in place what has come to be known as the Toyota Production System; the general bent to logical thinking and problem solving is of particular interest to product developers.
Smith and Reinertsen, 1991
Some key management techniques that improve project profit, especially how you model projects to understand what most influences their success.
Womack and Jones, 1996
A description of how companies who have applied the Toyota production system and related good practice have radically cut their costs and gained market share.
Womack, Jones and Roos, 1989
The results of a five-year world-wide programme based at MIT comparing the operating practices of car makers, showing how the Toyota production system leads the way in commercial success.