Category Archives: lean development
Here’s a chance to find out how implementing rapid learning cycles will increase speed and innovation in your development process. Please join me for a Management Round Table webinar, April 17, 2014.
In this session, you will:
- Learn about the Steelcase lean journey and applications of lean in development. Understand lean program objectives and the framework for implementation.
- Explore how rapid learning cycles can be applied to development from the earliest concept phases and throughout development.
- Close knowledge gaps earlier and speed up innovation in the development process.
- Learn how rapid learning cycles go hand in hand with innovation methods.
- Learn how to start planning your lean product development implementation.
Guest post from Bart Huthwaite
Quick time-to-market comes from getting the small things right. Here is a check list to follow:
- Smaller is better. Keep your product team small, typically no more than 6-8 members. And make sure all know the importance of product speed and are totally committed to it. Communication is faster when fewer are involved.
- Get the “Big Picture” first. Don’t start without a clear “end-in-view” and a strategy for getting there. Build your strategy on the strategic values which will make your product or service a long term winner. Your team members will be able to make decisions faster. Strong “buy-in” to a team’s game plan encourages faster response time when crises arise.
- Work in parallel. Parallel work compresses product launch time. Constantly work to build confidence and trust, thus encouraging early understanding and commitment of these parallel teams.
- Avoid “sand bag” solutions. Sand bag solutions are those which slow down a new product effort. These can include specifying a new, untested manufacturing process, launching a product with an untrained sales force and implementing a new CAD system the same time you are developing a new product effort. These kinds of innovation are best done “off-line,” and are only inserted into the product development cycle when they are fully proven.
- Create a “Team Efficiency Charter.” Identify and agree on the characteristics of a highly efficient new product team. Good product teams build standards of excellence and then adhere to them.
- Measure both product effectiveness and team efficiency in “real time.” Product effectiveness is how well your product is attaining its goals. Team efficiency is how well your team dynamics are working, such as the speed decision-making and follow-through. Fast track product teams keep a stop watch record of everything.
- Think ahead. Develop your product in three generations. This helps your team anticipate the future. I call this technique “step”, “stretch” and “leap.” This helps you prepare for future shifts in technology, competition and marketplace changes. This helps you avoid “re-inventing the wheel.” Only insert new technology into your product when risk has been reduced to a minimum.
- Get management involved and committed at the early concept stage. Management buy-in “up-front” reduces your team’s fear of failure. Do this beginning at the early product concept stage.
- Be time driven. Never start a meeting or a task without first setting a specific time to finish it. And stick to your guns. Avoid trying to get the entire job done in one sitting. Shoot for 80% and then come back to the issue later. Iteration is a hallmark of effective design teams.
- Let us know how we can help. LEAN Product Design is our passion. Contact us to learn about our onsite programs to help you.
A Lean Development is ultimately a disruptive innovation, which means it dramatically changes an industry, effects all consumers, and generates new product families.
Ever imagine that your smartphone would take your blood pressure from the comfort of your home?
Or can you envision getting your blood sugar readings instantaneously on your iPhone?
Have you ever thought that your doctor would do an ECG or ultrasound on an iPhone right in his or her office?
It sounds like an instrument that Dr. Bones would use in Star Trek from his medical room on the Enterprise. But that science fiction is now becoming a reality. The future is here today! These things are being done today, and will become common place in a few years.
“How long will it be before we’re all having our own smartphone physicals every one or two years? Devices such as the body analysis scale, blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter, and ECG are already in use as teaching devices in med schools and by some patients, and some early adopting clinicians are using them in daily life. TEDMED speaker Eric Topol has been integrating smartphone-based devices into his practice over the last few years and most recently used his AliveCor to diagnose a passenger-in-distress on an airplane as well as the CellScope Oto to visualize Stephen Colbert’s ear drum on the “Colbert Report.” See TEDMED
SmartPhones are bringing new value to medicine. The Smartphone used in this way brings new frontiers to the doctor patient interaction. Here are the values that are optimized:
- Tests can be done immediately.
- The results are accurate.
- The doctor’s diagnosis can occur in nearly real time.
- Instant readings can help save lives.
- The patients data can be saved for future comparisons and progress.
- The patient can own their own improvement program with instant and continuous feedback on progress
According to Eric Topol, a pioneer in the field of smartphones used in medicine, this new technology will disrupt the health care system and drive out wastes. Smartphones used in this way will help to reduce unnecessary tests, or bring the tests directly to the patient. Medicine can become personalized, and there will not be a need to do mass screenings. Furthermore, drugs can be properly and accurately prescribed based on real-time data from the patient. Here are the wastes that are driven out of the healthcare system:
- Costly procedures are replaced by a low-cost or no-added-cost procedure
- Patients no longer need to travel to the tests, the tests go to the patient
- Medications can be calibrated based on the needs of the body
- Mass screenings can be replaced by targeted tests for the individual
As more of these devices are available and more and more tests are possible from the smartphone, your next physical very well might be a smart phone physical. The result will be a more thorough physical, with more test and feedback given directly to you as the patient. And the costs of the tests will be lower, if not eliminated completely.
So, enter the brave new world of Lean Development, where disruptive innovations bring new value and eliminate wastes.
Lean development is credited in another hospital design. This one is Florida’s Wesley Chapel.
“The team relied on research and lean principles to address design of the patient rooms, patient units, emergency department, clinical laboratory, surgery, and sterile processing, with special attention paid to work flow, adjacencies, optimization of staff time, and functional tasks. Throughout the facility, large windows offer natural light and views, while multiple gardens provide spaces for family, patient, and staff respite.
The greenfield site itself posed particular challenges since one-third was deeded wetlands. Florida’s wetlands preservation laws required multiple reviews with many government agencies. HuntonBrady worked with the civil engineer to create a three-phase site plan to demonstrate how the hospital could grow and make best use of the site, while minimizing impact on current operations. For this reason, departments most likely to expand are on the first level and have exterior walls.”
Announcing the 2013 Lean Development Excellence Benchmark Survey
Please accept my personal invitation to you to participate in the 2013 Lean Development Excellence Benchmark Survey.
Are you curious about how lean can be leveraged to improve development in your organization?
Would you like to connect with others who are on their own lean development journey?
Are you attempting to improve your culture in the area of lean development?
Are you committed to making your development program better?
Have you ever wondered where your organization rates on lean development compared to others?
Can your organization be a teacher of lean development to others?
Please accept my offer to participate in this survey. This is a rare opportunity to compare your organization to others who are on their own lean development journey.
The following areas of are included in the survey:
Stake Holder Collaboration
Optimization of Value
Product and Process Accountability
Senior Management Support
Knowledge and Innovation Value Streams
Pace of Innovation
Strategic Planning and Direction Setting
Participation is free. Your own company’s results will be shared with you at no charge. The full results and detailed comparisons of your organization with respect to others will be compiled and offered for purchase. However, the results and comparisons across all participants will be shared and included at no charge with your attendance to the Huthwaite ummit on Mackinac Islansd in August 13-15, 2013
How it works:
The survey will be sent to you and filled out by you for your organization. This is a great opportunity to get a small team together to discuss your ratings. Discuss each question and fill it out together.
The results of your assessment will be reviewed and by lean development experts Bart Huthwaite and Timothy Schipper.
The survey will also include a 30 minute teleconference interview with either Bart or Tim to review your answers and further discuss the ratings and responses.
Once all participants have completed their assessment, the results will be compiled. The name and information of your organization will only be seen within your company, and your identity will be anonymous to the other participants. The survey results will merely indicate from which industry the results were compiled. (Bart and Tim will sign an IDA or non-disclosure agreement upon request). We will only share your information with your permission.
Sign-up soon, the assessment will only be run during the month of May and June. So start today.
Throw out an idea … How to place an overview of design for lean manufacturing on Wikipedia?
Learn a new skill … How can you learn the skills to be a Wikipedia contributor and editor? This took some learning about Wikipedia editing and the nature of writing with a neutral point of view (or NPOV).
Get some help from friends … How to enlist the help of others in editing and create a meaningful entry? Thank you to the Huthwaite Institute who stayed with the long editing process.
Edit, Edit, and Edit again … How many edits might it take? The peer-editing process on Wikipedia is fairly unique. It was difficult to find an editor who understood the process and could guide us through the maze of Wikipedia editing. So, a special thank you goes to Cullen (not his real name), who helped us through the process. After many back and forth sessions and many hours of revisions … Lean Design is now on Wikipedia.
A Wikipedia entry on design for lean manufacturing without any qualifying statements on the entry!
Here is the first paragraph:
Design for lean manufacturing
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Design for lean manufacturing is a process for applying lean concepts to the design phase of a system, such as a complex product or process. The term describes methods of design in lean manufacturing companies as part of the study of Japanese industry by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At the time of the study, the Japanese automakers were outperforming the American counterparts in speed, resources used in design, and design quality. Conventional mass-production design focuses primarily on product functions and manufacturing costs; however,design for lean manufacturing systematically widens the design equation to include all factors that will determine a product’s success across its entire value stream and life-cycle. One goal is to reduce waste and maximize value, and other goals include improving the quality of the design and the reducing the time to achieve the final solution. The method has been used in architecture, healthcare, product development, processes design, information technology systems, and even to create lean business models. It relies on the definition and optimization of values coupled with the prevention of wastes before they enter the system. Design for lean manufacturing is system design.
Please proceed to Wikipedia to read the rest of the entry. Enjoy the reading, and let us know how we could make the Wikipedia more accurate and complete. Note: Others have already contributed and helped to make the entry more accurate.
What is LEAN Development?
Several people recently asked me independent from each other, “What is lean development all about?” And as I read, study, and explore the topic, the word system keeps coming to the forefront of my brain. And the word system informs the definition of lean development.
Lean development is the application of a set of methods and techniques that work together to create a system that optimizes value and reduces wastes across the entire life cycle of the system.
So if that is the definition, what images come to mind?
First of all, we need to think of things as systems. The automobile with all of its components is a system. It is made up of multiple subsystems from the engine, the transmission, the steering, braking, environmental comfort, computer, etc. All of the systems have to work together. A design process that is lean seeks to create a system that provides the most value with the least amount of waste. Value can be measured by attributes such as affordability or maintainability. Wastes can be measured by things that detract from the value such as complexity or danger. For instance, complexity often makes the auto less maintainable, or at the least more costly to maintain. Designs that provide the most value with the smallest amount of wastes built into them are the most desirable. And for a complex system like an automobile, each sub-system must also be optimized for value and minimized for waste.
The automobile is a product system. But there are many systems. A hospital is a system. A building is a system. A business is a system. The manufacturing process is a system. Even your finances are a system. The list goes on and on.
Other images that comes to mind are systems from nature. Nature is filled with systems. A tree is a system. Our bodies are a system. A lake or stream is a system. A habitat is a system. A collection of animals is a system. When multiples of these come together, we give them a special name – an ecosystem. In the grand design of nature, our creator placed us in an amazing set of systems. Everything from the solar system we live in, to this planet, to the ground we use to create food, to our communities; each is a system that provides infinite possibilities and usefulness. And each system has a very optimized design. So some of the best examples of designs that are lean come from nature. And, nature’s efficient systems can be placed in our own man-made designs.
Second, lean development seeks to optimize the value in the system. Values are the things that the end user or customer needs or wants. Lean development also utilizes an integrated product team to find best ways to increase the values in the system. Lean development also thinks about the value of the system over its entire life, from beginning to end, from creation to disposal and recycled into something new. In the ideal system, everything works together. If things are not working together, or competing with each other, then the system breaks down. If we think of our bodies in this way, we all know that all of the parts of the system must work together. If any individual part of our bodies isn’t working, well the whole system fails. We can echo the psalmist who said, “we are fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Third, lean development seeks to minimize the wastes that are built into the system, or might creep into the system overtime. Some wastes start out in the system. Computer systems might have software bugs or viruses. Once they enter the system, or are exposed, they can create a lot of havoc. The automobile might have a poor quality part in a critical system that causes the whole system to fail.
As practitioners of the discipline of Lean Development, we are attempting to create Lean Products and Processes through the application of lean thinking. We do that through a series of tools and techniques. Some of them borrowed from lean manufacturing, and others from various design disciplines. But, the tools are a means to an end. The ultimate goal of lean development is to create the best system possible.
Here is an example to bring it all together:
The headlights in the VW Beetle (or call it the headlight system) is not a design that follows lean principles. The headlights stay on at all times, which is a great safety feature that probably saves lives (value), but the replacement of the bulb is very complex because the whole headlight system must be removed to replace the bulb which is very difficult to do (waste). On one side, the battery must be removed to access the headlight canister (complexity). My regular mechanic won’t even touch the thing, and I have to take it to the dealer who charges a fair amount (waste) to replace the bulb which costs just a few dollars. Since the replacement now requires an appointment at the dealer, the repair is delayed (waste). The fact that the headlights stay on all the time is a great feature (value), but the fact that the bulbs have to be changed more often at a higher cost is a huge annoyance (waste over the entire life cycle). Overall, the increased safety is still worth the hassle and cost, but with a little more attention to designing out the wastes, the team of engineers (obviously not an integrated product team) could have created a design that is lean from the start.
The year was 2005. A large mid-west manufacturer was attempting to implement a large ERP system. The first implementations were in the order entry and finance sections of the company. Things moved along fairly smoothly, but then the company attempted the first manufacturing plant, converting the old legacy system into the new ERP system, SAP (from the German company … Systeme, Anwendungen und Produkte).
The first manufacturing plant took 20 months from start to finish and followed traditional phase gate or a waterfall system of development in which each phase had to be completed before the next could start. In the 20-month SAP implementation for the plant, the team spent nearly 3 months gathering requirements prior to starting the development and then, and only then, embark on a massive customization of the system. This meant that no custom code linking the SAP system to other business systems was written until the requirements phase was completed.
When the system was unveiled, 16 month after the start of the project, the users in the plant immediately pointed out that it did not work the way they thought it would, and it did not meet all of their business needs. IT, for their part, insisted they had built the system exactly as the users told them it should work at the requirements gathering stage.
Needless to say, the management team responsible for the implementation of this system was not pleased. Nearly a dozen plants needed to be converted to SAP, and at 20 months each, the entire project would have taken a decade.
Exit waterfall development. Enter lean development techniques for IT systems.
When the teams looked back on the process and analyzed the approach (using value stream mapping techniques), they found that their efforts contained as much as 80% rework because, although the initial requirements were very thorough, they had not anticipated all of the discoveries that were made later in the process. And because the users were not consulted during development, many nuances of their process and techniques were not accounted for in the new SAP system.
The failure of traditional techniques triggers the motivation for change and lean development techniques.
Lean development principles were brought in and taught to the team. Rapid learning Ccycles were used to break the large project into smaller learning events. At the start of each learning cycle, the teams discussed what they needed to learn, and set-out to work on just that set of learning. Users were included in these events as well, thus sharing new requirements as the learning cycles progressed. In each learning cycle, testing and user reviews helped the teams build the system module by module.
Lean development breaks down large projects into smaller pieces.
The whole project was chunked into a half-dozen rapid learning events. Each one was 30 days or less. This let the team create lean flow within the team, and it reduced flow interruptions.
At the end of each learning event, the knowledge gained was reviewed with the whole team and with management. The sharing of knowledge is another important element of lean development.
Lean development practices knowledge capture and sharing.
From the initial failure of SAP development, the team quickly recovered by apply lean principles for the design. They implemented the next plant in a little over 8 months, cutting the time by more than 50%.
Lean development efforts typically finish in 50% less time with improved quality.
The team was complimented on their success, and lean development quickly become the standard for all the subsequent plant SAP implementations. As the team moved on, they standardized on the design methods for IT development.
You can read the whole story, and many others, in the book Innovative Lean Development on Kindle or in book form. Or, better yet, ask us to talk in person to your IT organization about lean techniques in software and system development.
The first goal of a lean design is to be directionally correct. Starting out in the right direction is the first priority. Teams should worry about the precision of hitting their target later.
This is in stark contrast to traditional software development methods in which teams are encouraged to gather all of the project requirements upfront. Often teams will spend weeks and months merely gathering system requirements. However, in lean development, the assumption is made that not all requirements can be known up front.
As the story goes, the IT developer went to the client and asked for all of their requirements. And the client said, show me what your system can do, and then I can give you my requirements.
Developers know intuitively that not all of the requirements for a system can be determined up front. While some gathering is needed, teams can often suffer from “analysis paralysis” if they spend too long at this phase.
Lean development seeks to be direction-ally correct in the beginning, and then worry about converging in on a solution later. A US Navy captain, Maurice Gauthier, put it this way, “Three successive pursuits of the 80 percent solution produce the 99.2 percent solution. However, pursuit of the 99 percent solution on the first attempt is a very poor investment of resources.”
The way to apply this to software development is to collect 80 percent of the requirements at the start, and then launch a series of rapid learning cycles. The end goal or target is set, or as Bart Huthwaite calls it, ‘the End-in-View” is determined upfront’. Then the team designs a series rapid learning cycles to learn, show feasibility, and to determine the course to take to hit the target. Taking the client, or future user, along with you on the journey is key. At the start of the learning cycle, tell the user what you expect to accomplish and what the team hopes to learn. Outline the questions that you hope to answer during the learning cycle. During the learning cycle and at the end, share your prototypes and your knowledge and ask for their reactions.
Every rapid learning cycle includes experiments and prototypes. In the IT system, this means that you are doing some type of rough prototype even in the earliest learning cycles. Showing the user the prototype might seem like a risk, but not if you tell them that ultimately it is an experiment that might even be thrown away later. At this stage the direction is set, but it has not been fine tuned. Then, listen to the user and let them help you inform the direction of the solution. In listening, additional requirements will be gathered and this will help to set the system in the correct direction. This is where you can gather the additional 20% of the requirements.
Each learning cycle should include some form of knowledge capture for the team for later reference. The metric sized A3 (11″ x 17″) sheet of paper, is the appropriate size to capture enough knowledge without over documenting. A lot of information can be recorded on one side of an A3sheet of paper. The A3 acts as a beacon marking where the team has been, and describes what has been learned.
I have seen this approach work with teams both large and small. It improves both the quality of the end solution, but it can also dramatically reduce the need for later user validation and testing because they were included in the early learning cycles. It is not agile development which assumes the requirements are set and the developer is merely writing code. This comes at the later stages of the project.
For a further description of rapid learning cycles, please refer to Innovative Lean Development. Thank you. And please send comments on how you have used learning cycles in your software development process.
Lean designers start with a review of the prior knowledge and proven ideas and end with documenting updates of that knowledge or new knowledge.
I have run a simple experiment which measured the effectiveness of knowledge sharing with groups simulating a develop environment. The simple experiment is an open-ended problem that requires problem solving to reach a solution. Knowledge sharing improves the outcome. After teams share ideas and knowledge, their success rate and quality improves by 100%.
A Knowledge A3 is simply knowledge captured on a single page of metric A3 paper (approximately 11 x 17 inches). They provide a vehicle to capture and communicate knowledge across the development organization. Reusable knowledge A3s written to capture knowledge take a certain amount of effort to create, but they are worth the effort!
These types of A3s are quite different from the A3s used by many Lean Manufacturing companies to manage a Kaizen used for tracking tasks to move from a current state to a future state. A Knowledge A3 is less about doing things, and all about documenting important knowledge and learning.
For knowledge and ideas to be reused and improve the development cycle for the next project, ideas and knowledge must be documented, but more importantly, they must be easily found and reused. The goal is to set up the knowledge pull within the organization. Therefore, the A3s must be put into a knowledge supermarket from which they can be pulled. (In this case, “pull” is defined as retrieving and reusing knowledge as it is needed or per the demand of the next project).
It is important to take the time to ensure that Knowledge A3 is truly generalized, that it is from a trusted source, and that it is accessible. These are three important characteristics of a well-functioning knowledge management system. Toyota did this for many years by creating the “Know-How” database. It was described in the book The Machine that Changed the World. It is one example of how a Lean company (Toyota in this case) approached their development process by focusing on knowledge. The “Know-How” database existed in paper form for decades before Toyota converted it to an electronic system. Toyota had kept knowledge on everything from door handles to transmissions. The “Know-How” database represented the knowledge, engineering guidelines, and checklists that guided the design process to ensured quality.
Your Knowledge A3s will be focused on your own products, systems, and sub-systems. The knowledge A3s work for IT systems and IT development just the same. Knowledge A3s might be about a particular set of user needs or use models. Alternately, the A3 might be about the architecture of the system itself, or about an important sub-system. The goal is to document the knowledge so it can be pulled and reused each time a similar system or sub-system is developed.
For entrepreneurs working at a new start up, knowledge reuse is even more important in these cases. Using prior knowledge to not reinvent the wheel for creating the business or the products certainly speeds up the time to market.
Lean design requires idea and knowledge sharing.
For Lean Development Excelence
Author of Innovative Lean Development.