Lean concepts were first formulated in the manufacturing function, but many of them also may be applied to product development.

Lean product development means having stable, standardized work processes. In a lean process, product development activities follow a regular rhythm.

Work-in-process flows from one station to another without stopping. Activities are initiated by customers, be they internal or external. Bottlenecks are avoided by cross-training employees in multiple skills so that resources may be moved from one activity to another to avoid bottlenecks.

Lean product development also enables organizations to create rapid learning cycles that speed winning new products to market.  
Meet the Expert

David Crawley PhD

Consultant David Crawley PhD
Founder, Ubiquity Robotics
San Francisco, CA
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About David

  • 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.


Founder • Ubiquity Robotics
2017 — Present
  • Ubiquity Robotics builds robots that help other people build their robots and their companies.
Head of Lean Corporate Initiatives • Cypress Semiconductor
Jul, 2009 — Jun, 2016
  • Drove program that dropped product development cycle time for equivalent products from 326 weeks to 53 weeks.
  • Lead improvements in manufacturing that resulted in 40% reduction in normalized cost.
Consultant • McKinsey and Company
Mar, 2005 — Jun, 2009
  • Consultant and practice expert focused on semiconductor companies and Lean operations.
  • Served a number of Fortune 100 companies including five of the ten largest semiconductor companies.
  • Implemented dozens of successful Lean transformation programs in areas including manufacturing and sales.
PhD Student Sponsoree • Toshiba Research Europe Ltd
1991 — 2001


Royal Military Academy
Commission as an officer, Military Education, 2004
University of Cambridge
PhD, Semiconductor Physics, Medical Imaging Technology, Terahertz, 2002
University of Oxford
MPhys, Physics, 1999
Beijing Language and Culture University
Chinese, 1995


  • Technical panels and panels on Lean at Stanford.


  • Research Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge (2003-2005)
  • Lectured on Lean at Stanford


  • Published ten highly-cited peer-reviewed papers. 
  • Awarded three U.S. and UK patents.
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