We need a different approach, one based on solid economics and real science. The heart of this approach is FLOW, and the enemy of flow is the invisible and unmeasured queues that undermine all aspects of product development performance. Stagnant piles of idle work lengthen cycle time. At the same time, they delay vital feedback and destroy process efficiency. Yet today, these queues remain unmanaged. Ninety-eight percent of product developers neither measure nor control their queues.
But, how can we manage these queues and achieve real flow? It takes a bit of science. We can start with the ideas of lean manufacturing. Then, we must recognize the vast difference between the stable world of repetitive manufacturing and the high-variability world of product development. A product development process must thrive in the presence of variability. Ultimately, we must reach even further, drawing upon ideas from the Internet, transportation systems, computer operating systems, and military doctrine.
This is the first book that comprehensively describes the underlying principles that create flow in product development processes, principles that have produced 5x to 10x improvements, even in mature processes. It combines a lucid explanation of the real science behind flow and a rich set of practical methods. Its underlying principles are organized into eight major areas, focusing on practical methods to:
• Improve economic decisions
• Manage queues
• Reduce batch size
• Apply WIP constraints
• Accelerate feedback
• Manage flows in the presence of variability
• Decentralize control
Nobody is better suited to explain these ideas than Don Reinertsen. In 1997, his landmark book, Managing the Design Factory, first introduced the ideas that have become known as lean product development. His two previous books, Developing Products in Half the Time and Managing the Design Factory, have become required reading for all product developers. For over 25 years he has been recognized as a leading thinker on product development issues.
This book begins where other books on product development end. It is guaranteed to change the way you think about product development. The Principles of Product Development Flow is destined to become another product development classic.
About the Author
For 30 years, Don Reinertsen has been a thought leader in the field of product development. In 1983, while a consultant at McKinsey & Co., he wrote the landmark article in Electronic Business magazine that first quantified the financial value of development speed. In 1985, he coined the term Fuzzy Front End to describe the earliest stage of product development. In 1991, he wrote the first article showing how queueing theory could be practically applied to product development.
His 1991 book, Developing Products in Half the Time, coauthored with Preston Smith, is a product development classic. His 1997 book, Managing the Design Factory, was the first book to describe how the principles of Just-in-Time manufacturing could be applied to product development. In the 12 years since this book appeared, this approach has become known as lean product development. For 15 years, Don taught executive courses on product development at California Institute of Technology. He currently teaches public seminars throughout the world.