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September 2019

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 sep 2019

According to Learning Enterprise Institute (lean.org), the book, 'Designing the Future' by James M. Morgan and Jeffrey K. Liker, describes the robust new Lean Product and Process Development (LPPD) framework and shares real-world examples from a diverse set of industries. The book explains how the leading companies are using LPPD to create better futures for themselves and all their stakeholders. Authors go beyond broad generalizations on how to 'be innovative' and dig deeper into the theoretical bedrock and concrete development practices that are generating exceptional results at pioneering LPPD companies. Examples in the book show specifically how companies are redesigning product development systems to consistently design and deliver a progression of market-leading products and services. The book explains how LPPD is different from traditional ways of thinking and doing product development. The book helps in learning how to - (1) Avoid the 'extremes' that turn milestones into a 'coercive bureaucracy' and instead turn them into the foundation of a lean development process. (2) Drive out fear, but not accountability. (3) Develop high-performance teams and team members. (4) Cultivate chief architects with complete product and business responsibility. (5) Create flow and reduce rework in the development process. (6) Apply leadership lessons from Alan Mulally and other senior development leaders, as well as the critical elements of a powerful management system. (7) Use the Obeya (big room, war room) system to increase transparency, collaboration, focus, and speed while engaging the entire enterprise. (8) Improve the scientific thinking skills of engineers and developers. (9) Apply the seemingly contradictory concept of 'fixed and flexible' - Yin and Yang - of lean product development as an opportunity, not a conflict. (10) Hire the right people using different approaches, including extreme interviewing events. (11) Use a Commodity Development Plan to develop components in parallel that are on time, functional, and fit together. (12) Improve development problem solving through effective use of A3s and employ a simple but effective 'trick' to check the quality of an A3 report. EXCERPTS FROM INTERVIEW WITH AUTHORS - James M. Morgan: 'The book is for all serious practitioners who are working to find a better way to develop products, processes and services. Especially for those who are in leadership positions who want to improve organizational development capabilities in order to create great products and a great place to work.'; 'Deep immersion at the gemba (the actual place) during the study period to truly understand your customer and their context. To truly study and listen deeply to your customer in a very intentional way. To look broadly across your industry to understand the current state and conduct detailed product or service dissections where called for. Creating an active learning plan and experimentation to test ideas and close knowledge gaps. To create a concept paper to clarify your thinking and engage and enroll others.'; 'Milestones are the key to orchestrating development across functions. They are the primary mechanism for integrating work and for understanding normal from abnormal conditions so that the development team may act accordingly.'; 'The obeya space needs to become the center and the heartbeat of the project. Whether the team is collocated or not, it is the place where they come together to share and collaborate. It is the primary source of project information.'; 'I believe that it (to build aligned and focused teams) is impacted by hiring/selection of people, development of people, manager selection and promotion and of course leadership behaviors. One key is to develop an effective management system. In my view a management system is comprised of two key elements: leadership behaviors and an operating system.'; 'The best leaders have the grit to keep going - and to keep their team moving forward. One key is to look at problems as gems, as opportunities to improve your product, your process, your team - yourself.'; 'Make it okay to experiment, make mistakes, question things and raise issues. Create time and resources for learning - both capturing and applying learning. Design reviews are an excellent mechanism for learning. Then make knowledge available in user-friendly way.'; 'Apply the LPPD principles and practices in your transformation. Start by deeply understanding your current state, develop a compelling vision, learn through pilot experimentation, create an aligned plan, and focus on relentless executing leveraging tools like obeya, milestones, reflection events and design reviews.' Jeffrey K. Liker: 'We also talk about the role of the chief engineer - an overall architect for the product who assimilates all the data and spends time with customers and integrates many perspectives into a vision. These are specially developed people who become the chief architects.'; 'The main failure mode of milestones is viewing them as checkpoints. In LPPD there is feedback and adjustment happening all of the time. The checkpoint is a major opportunity to reflect and learn. It should not feel like passing a test.'; 'The obeya paces the work of many functional specialists so they are checking the status of their work products in short intervals, seeing how they can help each other, seeing gaps between plan versus actual and taking corrective action. It should focus on deviation management.'; 'A big part of the management system is the target setting process. The chief engineer sets the product targets and each function develops appropriate targets to support the chief engineer.'; 'It is also critical to have knowledge gatekeepers for each function who are the keepers of the know-how database for their specialty to avoid lots of information that never gets used.'; 'An exciting culture leads to an exciting product. We also talk about the importance of strong functional groups that are teaching the deep knowledge of their engineering discipline.' Read on...

InfoQ: Q&A on the Book 'Designing the Future'
Authors: Ben Linders, James Morgan, Jeffrey Liker


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