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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lean Governance - New Product or Process Development

Lean Nation,

One of your key responsibilities as a leader is to make sure that your products and services meet the needs of your customers. Depending on your type of industry, your focus may vary slightly.  For example,  if you are in the technology business at least 1/3 of your total sales volume should come from products developed in the previous 12 months.  This means that you better have a robust new product development cycle to keep the flow of new items making it to the marketplace.

If you are in a service industry,  new services should be introduced when the pull arises from your customer.  When do you need to add a new service in your print shop, or in your hospital.  While this flow might not be continuous,  this flow is not zero either. 

Most organizations have some type of project management structure to deliver new products and services.  A "lean" organization uses a full suite of waste free approaches to understand the voice of the customer, translate that voice into specifications and attributes, and operationalize those specifications.  a lean organization can do these activities in 50-75% less time than a traditional organization, and with 14 to 1/3 less resources.  While benchmark numbers do not exist,  It has been my experience that these capabilities can be delivered with a higher quality yield and in a smaller footprint as well. 

Some of the tools that a lean organization might use in their new product/process development include:
  • Kano Model
  • Vertical Gantt Chart
  • Voice of the Customer / Quality Function Deployment
  • Value Added Engineering
  • Production Preparation Process (3P)
  • TRIZ
  • Taguchi Targets
  • Design of Experiments
  • Design for Service/Manufacturability ( DFS/DFM)
There are over 50 tools in the lean new product/process development process.  Like any other lean approach it takes years to learn and lifetime to master.  From a governance perspective you need to be able to answer a few questions.
  1. Do you have a measureable target for new products and services?
  2. Do you have a system for introducing new products and services?
  3. Does your system perform at the level of best in the world?
  4. Would start-up stress and rework be significanlty less if your systems were designed to be error free?
  5. Are your cycle times for new products and services getting shorter or longer?
If you can't answer these questions,  understanding your baseline might be a good place to start.  If you don't like the answers to the questions, I encourage to see what the best in the world are doing. 

Lean Blessings:


Ron Bercaw
President, Breakthrough Horizons


  1. Informative article, a good read. I have been working with a new business process improvement tool that has achieved things for me I thought never possible. Your article makes sense.

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