Book Review: The Mastery of Innovation


The Mastery of Innovation: A Field Guide to Lean Product Development


Author: Katherine Radeka


Publication Date: 2013 CRC Press

Mastery of Innvoation

Book Description: What’s the key message?



Katherine Radeka’s book is an exploration in the emerging field of Lean Product Development.   Radeka notes that companies need to get their ideas to market faster, develop more of their ideas into products, and smoothly move them into production, with lower life-cycle costs.


The contents come from Radeka’s “going to the gemba” and observing actual lean product development at various companies.  She started that journey in 2005, after leaving Hewlett Packard, and traveling throughout North America, and she continues to do this today as a consultant.  Her recent journeys have extended throughout Europe.



Radeka characterizes development as “systematically solving problems to maximize values and minimize waste across the entire system.”  This is, at its core, what the broader topic of lean design is all about.  The original concept of the keeping problem solving back at the core of product development was taught by the University of Michigan professor Dr. Allen Ward.   He called the problem solving method in development the LAMDA cycle; where LAMDA is a mnemonic for the steps in the problem solving method – Look, Ask, Model, Discuss, and Act.  Dr. Ward also taught the benefits of documenting knowledge in the form of trade-off curves.


Radeka briefly explains how to determine value and spot wastes in the product development cycle.  Then she teaches about the four value producing streams in development which are the customer value stream, the product design and test value stream, the production value stream, and the one the encompasses the other three – the knowledge creation value stream.



The remainder and bulk of the book describes how various companies have pioneered the principles of Lean Product Development.  The companies include DJO, Scania Technical Centre, Ford Motor Company, Buckeye Technologies, Steelcase, Philips, Novo Nordisk, Visteon, A-dec, Nielsen-Kellerman, Vaisala, and Playworld Systems.  Each of these companies has embraced the idea of placing lean problem solving and lean principles at the heart of the development systems.



What are the highlights? What works?


Radeka gives some excellent and current examples of companies who are applying lean in product development.  The upfront material gives the reader a quick overview of the lean concepts that apply to development.   The examples that follow are rich and detailed, and they will give the reader a closer look at how companies are exploring the application of lean principles inside of their product development functions.


What are the weaknesses? What’s missing?


Since the book is mostly case studies of implementations in lean development, it does not give the theory of lean design or an in-depth study of the concepts and principles of lean in development.   Instead, Radeka’s intent is to share real-world examples of how lean concepts have been applied in companies all over the world.  The reader will have to apply the ideas and examples in the book to their own development organization.  Radeka does not go into depth on LAMDA learning cycles or the documentation of knowledge in the form of trade-off curves (per Ward) since those topics can be found in Allen Ward’s book Lean Product and Process Development and are explored by Schipper and Swets in Innovative LEAN Development.  While she gives many examples, she does not critique them or comment on how effective they are in producing results at the companies.


How should I read this to get the most out of it?


The examples are very rich in detail, and there are many ideas to glean from these pages.  Therefore, a great way to read this book is to share this with others in the development organization, and even to offer to make it a book study with the product development leadership and teams.  The development organization can then collectively discuss how the best in class examples could be adopted or adapted to their own methods.

Timothy Schipper

Lean Design Excellence Coach

Author of Innovative LEAN  Development








About Timothy Schipper

Author and coach on lean

Posted on March 26, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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