- Dramatically reduced product development cycle time at blue-chip semiconductor company.
- Has lectured on Lean product development for startups at Stanford.
- Developed and applied novel transformation methods for change resistant organizations.
- Worked on both the research and the business process improvement side of R&D.
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Lean Product Development
- When defects appear in product development, organizations tend to add more bureaucracy, which can lead to more rather than fewer defects.
When defects appear in products after release, most modern organizations typically add more checks, more procedures to the product development process. The result of this is that designers spend less time designing and more time on bureaucratic procedures. Over time, this means that they become less competent designers. As designers' skills erode, they tend to generate more defects. The organization then responds by adding yet more bureaucracy to the product development process. It becomes a vicious cycle, a "death spiral," in which designers are chasing their tails rather than developing products that delight customers.
- Job dissatisfaction leads to high turnover rates in product development organizations.
- As product designers start to spend less time designing and more time on bureaucracy, they lose interest in what made design engineering exciting in the first place. Job satisfaction plummets and one of the first symptoms is high turnover among designers. When the design engineers start to leave, rather than addressing the root cause of the flight, management begins to consider outsourcing design as "non-core" rather than improving it. They'd prefer to outsource, with all its attendant risks and difficulties, than apply Lean thinking to their existing product development organization.
- When designers spend too much time on non value-added activities and not enough time designing new products technical competence declines.
- When companies try to resolve product development defects by adding more bureaucracy, engineers technical skills decline and they introduce even more defects in products and processes. Timelines become elongated and time-to-market increases. The engineers who remain are expected to do more with less which applies more pressure. This leads to dissatisfaction, which leads, in turn to more defects and more turnover. The decline of the company's product development capability accelerates.
- As product development competency declines, competitors begin to beat your team to market.
- As technical competencies erode and schedules lengthen, competitors find ways to get their products to market first, capturing market share. Your product development teams cannot compete and it seems as though they never win. When teams see that their products are perennially late and that competitors are winning the battle, morale flags. More competent designers leave the company and the death spiral continues. Unfortunately, rather than looking at the root causes of the problems, they continue to do what they always have done, exacerbating the problems. Or they decide that they'll get out of the product development game all together.
- Product developers feel the pressure of outsourcing as management begins to see design as "non-core."
- When companies see their product development teams are slower than the competition, and that the design teams are introducing more and more defects, they may give up on product development altogether and decide to outsource it. They begin to believe that product development is "non-core." They would prefer to outsource their development and design rather than improve it. Companies also turn to outsourcing design because the the size of the product development organization that they need to compete and to win is larger than the enterprise can bear.