Lean is a method for organizing any large groups of individuals to meet a complex end. Lean concepts were first formulated in the manufacturing function, and these same concepts have since been applied to business areas such as finance, sales, internal administration and product development.
Any product development group that includes more than 10 people faces coordination challenges. In product development, the actions of any one person on the team can affect the design decisions of anyone and everyone else.
The first step to Lean product development is to stabilize your existing product development processes. The best route to stabilization is to have standardized work processes. All repeatable work processes should have clear work instructions that are followed on a consistent basis. These instructions should also include the time it should take to execute the task at hand.
After the process has been stabilized, your organization is ready to implement a Lean product development process. Lean product development has four main elements:
Lean concepts on the factory floor focus on eliminating wasted materials, resolving bottlenecks and reducing non-value-added activities. At the highest level, Lean product development is no different. It is also oriented toward efficiency but the means to this end is to establish a a cycle of learning in your design process. Product development is about eliminating unknowns. Lean product development enables organizations to create rapid learning cycles that speed winning new products to market.