The Evolution of Product Development -- Has Lean Adjusted?

In October, Cécile Roche and Luc Delamotte published a book entitled The Lean Engineering Travel Guide: The Best Itineraries for Developing New Products and Satisfying Customers. This book explains many Lean Engineering practices in some detail and the best itineraries to develop better products, discussing the underlying intentions and offering advice for implementation. It includes numerous concrete cases that illustrate this part with case material drawn from the authors’ own experiences. In addition, there is a brief guide to where and how to get started.  

When I spoke with Cécile this month, I asked her: "How has Lean adjusted as product development evolves?" Here is her complete answer:

The power of the Lean approach is that it is based on two strong convictions. 

The first is that a company will succeed if it really takes care of the customers, and therefore offers products that will solve their real problems - Do the right thing!

The second is that the company will make money thanks to the ingenuity of its employees, which must be encouraged by the existence of organized thinking spaces. 

By doing this, you avoid the biggest wastes imaginable: products that don't sell, products that you don't know how to produce, maintain, or recycle at the right cost, and all the rework caused by poor choices - Do the right thing, then do it right!

The practices and tools of Lean are all geared towards answering this question: what are we doing to give our staff the means to understand customers properly, and the means to identify the waste caused by our misconceptions? This constant questioning, which always begins with "Do we know what we don't know?” is the best way of ensuring that we are constantly adapting to change.

To encourage this questioning, we must set up a system that can very quickly identify the gaps, knowledge gaps, and trade-offs that need to give rise to creative discussions and train people to solve problems using appropriate methods. It is the Lean system.

Lean is a dynamic approach. It's not about freezing practices in procedures that are excellent one day but already unsuitable the next, but about regularly questioning all changes (in the context, of technology, resources, skills, etc.) to assess their impact. This is what we call the Kaizen spirit. As Allen Ward said, "Instead of learning to surf, conventional organizations try to control the waves! This almost never works."

What do you think of Cécile Roche's thoughts on Lean methodology? Do you feel that Lean continues to benefit the changing face of product development? 

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