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.
Development problems and making designs lean
Early in my career, I was a product developer. However, I quickly became disenchanted with the whole development process. I loved the engineering part of the job, solving problems and finding solutions. It was the lack of alignment, loop backs, and rework that discouraged me. I found that the whole process lacked focus and that projects spawned huge amounts of rework. Rework appeared in many forms – late design changes, added requirements, and a general lack of focus. I found that development only address part of the value equation, and usually did not address the problem of anticipating manufacturing wastes and design inefficiencies.
My career took a few turns. I left product development after a few years, working as an IT project manager and then as a manager. It was during this period of time that I found lean methods. I studied how lean was applied to manufacturing and also the office. I found that the lean tools provided a framework for looking at problems, and working on root cause elimination. The idea of continuous improvement appealed to me as a way to move an organization to be more efficient. Lean became my new passion. Nearly 10 years and 120 workshops later, I had mastered the art of applying lean to the carpeted areas of the business. It was during that journey that I discovered another application of lean.
Have you ever wondered if lean could be applied to the design world? Could it be used as a method to design more efficiently? Could it inform a product that was still on the drawing board, or should I say still in the CAD system? It is clear that it could be applied after the fact, once products were designed and hit the factory floor. Lean applied in manufacturing creates efficient value streams that run at a constant TAKT time with minimal inventory. But what does lean look like when applied to design?
The discovery I made was that lean could be applied to design just as well as it has been applied to manufacturing. Much of the language is the same, but the tactics are quite different. About 5 years ago, I was introduced to the topic of designs that are lean at a Huthwaite Institute Summit. It allowed me to synthesize my thinking and explore the world of design in a new way. This proved to be a thinking model as well as a guide for individuals and teams on how to apply lean to their development process. Thinking and reading Bart Huthwaite’s books inspired me to create LEAN products.both products and processes that are lean from the start.
The methods works well with teams who need to innovate quickly and speed development along. It is unique in that it works on both the process of development and on the product that is being designed. One of my favorite quotes is that for something to be lean it has to be lean from the start. In other words, wastes have to be designed out for the system upfront.
I was inspired to write about how development could generate innovative products and lean process. The book Innovative LEAN Development was one of the ways that I explored the idea of lean applied to development. I co-authored the book with my colleague, Mark Swets. It is our attempt to make a contribution to the knowledge base of lean development and design.
If you have been frustrated with the development experience as we were, then I encourage to investigate the lean development method. We have witnessed many teams who successfully applied lean development to improve their process and the quality of their products.
If you find the idea of lean for development intriguing and would like to learn more, please respond and tell me your challenges and frustrations with the development process. Let’s explore together how lean can remove your most difficult development gaps. I only wish that I had found the lean method earlier in my career.
mystery (asking what might be), to heuristic (discovery) and finally to algorithm (or repeatabili
ty). Moving through the knowledge funnel requires the user to practice abductive reasoning, which is described as asking what “might be” as opposed to “what is”.
I found it very interesting that many of the same topics found in Roger Martin’s method also found their way into our book. In Innovative Lean Development, Mark Swets and I talk about heuristic problem solving, and how to set up learning cycles to move from general ideas to something more concrete for the customer. We showed our own learning cycle funnel.
Why is the concept of the funnel so important? The concept is to have many ideas, or options, available to the team up front, and then weed them out. The team will also refine requirements, moving from general ones to
more specific. But, for the activity in the learning cycle, the team must have a structured way to create value and find the optimal solution. Using learning cycle exposes the gaps in the product or solution space. Learning cycles help to outline the questions and then focus the team’s direction in that ar
ea. Learning cycles become a tool to move from concept
s (mystery) through the other two phases of insight driven heuristics and algorithm . The team can use learning cycles to expose the gaps in the problem, refining both the requirements and the product design.