Lean Product and Process Development

What springs to mind when we hear the word lean? For many people I’m sure they firstly think about the lean manufacturing or lean operations area of their organization. It can be argued that this is where many books, articles and organizations focus – where the work is much easier to see. However the book that popularized this whole lean thing wasn’t just about operations – The Machine that changed the World compared the business systems of the auto makers, focusing on four areas – the design and development of the product, producing it, coordinating the supply chain and selling and distributing it.

In the early days of lean research and application little was written about this first area – product design and development. However a number of people were conducting experiments to improve the “concept to launch” process – simultaneously improving quality through better right first time, while shortening lead times and developing the capability of those doing the work.

Interest in this area has grown and so it should. Applying lean thinking to the production of poorly designed products feels like rework – and probably is. Much of the cost and the intrinsic quality of a product are built in at the design phase, so to develop a successful lean organization we need to apply the thinking to the development of products that we all use.

That’s where the Lean Product and Process Development Exchange (LPPDE) come in. 

Formed several years ago in North America as a non-profit organization LPPDE grows and spreads the lean product and process development knowledge base. Each year networking events are held where people come together to share with the purposes of:

  • Creating a deeper understanding of tools and concepts associated with “lean product and process development,” including issues of implementation;
  • Disseminating this knowledge into the marketplace of ideas; and
  • Supporting early adopters.

This year we are delighted to be collaborating with LPPDE to help them host their European event in the UK. This takes place at Wokefield Park on May 18th, 19th and 20th. Details of the event can be found at www.leanuk.org/lppde.

Attending LPPDE provides insight to both the people engaged in product and process development and people responsible for helping their organization adopt lean. Whether you are engaged in designing your next generation products or just beginning to apply lean to this area of your business there will be something of value for you at the conference. Please bring this to the attention of your colleagues and network. We hope to see you there.