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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The Principles of Product Development Flow is a reference book targeted at line managers and project managers. While the book is targeted at product development, most managers can benefit greatly from a reference like this, if they use it. This is a book to carry with you, or at least have handy while at work.

Most management books cover only a few ideas and often at too high a level to be useful in day-to-day work. Flow is different. It covers a lot of ground, more than 150 management principles divided into eight areas. As you can imagine, with this much ground to cover, the prose is terse, to the point, and action oriented.

Flow is not a book for everyone, but if you are serious about management, you should have a copy, and study it carefully.

Flow begins by establishing why a new approach to management is necessary. There are plenty of problems with the most common approaches to management today. Reinertsen discusses them thoughtfully. He approaches management from an economic angle, so it is natural that the first area covered is product development economics. From there, Reinertsen moves on to cover most aspects of product development flow:

* Queues, and the economics of queues
* Variability
* Batch sizing
* Work-In-Process constraints
* Cadence, synchronization and flow control
* The importance of fast feedback loops
* Centralization and Decentralization of control

Flow focuses to a large extent on the technical side of management. Such skills are absolutely necessary for a good manager to have, but they are rarely taught. I recommend The Principles of Product Development Flow to any manager who wishes to increase her understanding of management, and build a practical toolkit for performing it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2011
Don's book is excellent. It's not nearly as easy to read as his classic Managing the Design Factor but, provided you read that book first, then this book will take you to the next level. FLOW is a rich book, densely packed, with 100s of well written, usable and useful ideas. Think of it as a big menu neatly divided into several sections, each dedicated to getting your new products out the door sooner, reducing your stress levels, and making your business more money.

Here's the short version:
- figure out how your projects make money;
- figure out how much it costs when those projects are delayed;
- if the cost of delay is a lot of money then read the rest of the book, starting with the chapters on queuing and batch sizes.

(If the cost of delay isn't significant then you're probably in the wrong business.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2011
What do traffic jams, the internet and warfare have in common? The answer is that they all contains ideas to improve product development. In this tightly-packed recipe book Reinertsen draws on his years of observing how companies develop products and guides the reader into identifying the subtle 'system level' processes that are occurring: queues, WIP constraints, batch size problems and more. He then looks at disciplines that have optimised these areas and shows how those solutions can be used to improve your own process.

In illustrating these processes, what is surprising, and counter-intuitive is how unreliable common-sense can be. For example, running your department close to capacity can cost more than running it at 70& - 80% loading. Or take WIP. It's easy to see that material that is paid for and sitting in the factory is a 'bad thing'. Reinertsen shows that we have Design-in-Process (DIP) that is invisible but just as expensive. Does your company have product software features that are completed and waiting for the next release in six months time? Shorten that release cycle to three months and start getting revenue sooner.

Having read all of Reinertsen's books, I have been putting his ideas into practice over the last ten years. I'm pleased to see that in that time, his thinking has been consistent: make you decisions based on economics, but make sure you're controlling the right thing. So if you've ever wondered why slowing traffic speed on highways can make journey times shorter, buy this book and find out - and make your product development times shorter too.
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VINE VOICEon 14 June 2010
There's no doubt the style is pretty dense, and the author often leaves some of his terms either without explanation or with insufficient explanation.

But if you can see over that, it's a gem. I'm one of those geeks who loves counter-intuitive ideas and this book has them flying towards me. I actually ended up staying up until the early hours of the morning with this...

The idea that the mathematics of queueing theory can apply to product development is a new one on me, and as I read the book I realised I was starting to understand why the products I develop (software) were frequently behind schedule, over-budget, or worse: both.

This is in essence the mathematical proof underneath the "Mythical Man Month", underlined with an economic model that shows you how to start managing product development properly. And not just development, but maintenance too: applying the knowledge in the first few chapters of this to a support process would mean you'd be able to better support customers both in terms of SLA and - critically - would have the economic measurements to back-up your decisions as being the best for bottom-line profits.

It's not laid out for you, and you need to do some work - this is not a hand-holding exercise, it's introducing you to concepts that are hard to get at first. It's hard-going, it's dense, it goes for intellectual walks at times that seem confusing (but you realise are necessary insights), and comes back to one simple theme: we think we know what we're doing in engineering and product development teams, but the vast majority of us aren't even measuring the right things or understanding economic impact of the decisions we make when choosing an order of work.

There is plenty of other material in here that I've yet to start applying - I've focused on the first half of the book so far - but if you can handle information-dense books and know a bit of algebra you will get so much value out of this, you'll feel like I do: that it would have been great to have read this before the last couple of years of projects that didn't go quite as smoothly as expected.
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on 22 January 2014
I read this book as part of an agile book club - we all read a book per month and then meet up to share our perspectives on the book chosen.

I did find it a challenge to read, and many parts I had to read twice or more. Had it not been for the group I may have struggled to finish it. There is quite a lot of mathematics in it, which can be difficult for some.

However, the book conveys some very good ideas. The economics give you a common value for making choices between different product development options. The parts on design in process inventory, cost of delay and life cycle profits will help our agile teams to give the best value to the customer.

I really appreciated the differentiation made throughout the book between manufacturing (the basis of a lot of lean thinking) and product development, which has variability, is non repetitive and non-homogeneous.

The chapters on managing queues, exploiting variability, reduced batch size, fast feedback and decentralised control were really informative.

I am really pleased that I have read this book. At times I struggled, but the journey was worth it. I will keep this book on my desk and refer to it often.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2013
I recommend this book to anyone interested in Lean principles and their application to product development. The material presented in the book always goes back to first principles and dealing with root causes. The only reason why I didn't give it 5 stars is that I am not convinced of the practicalities of the proposed Economic Framework within an enterprise product development environment.
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on 18 October 2013
The Principles of Product Development Flow is a remarkable book. It presents in clear and simple language some very interesting and important principles that underpin lean, kanban, project scheduling and, yes, agile.

We all "know" that short releases cycles, quick feedback, prioritised feature sets etc all make sense but do we all know why that is the case? We all "know" how to manage full queues but do we all know that alternatives exists and that they could perhaps help with managing the flow of the delivery stream even better? What about critical chain project management? Why does it work? How about Theory of Constraints? Is it as good as some people think? This book covers it all. Everything you wanted to know about, well, product development flow but were afraid to ask.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 March 2013
Recommended reading for anyone who wants to understand why agile works.

Easy to read with lots of handy principles. Showing how the princpiles were applied in the marines helped clarify how they could be implemented elsewhere.
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on 10 June 2011
This book is a an excellent review of principles involved in the development of products. While a little more on some tools to effectively construct the Economic Framework might be worthwhile, this is of minor concern. The Book provides ample justification and ideas on why smaller batch sizes, a focus on queue length and use of techniques such as cadence are much better ways of tackling NPD management that Resource utilization.

As I reflect on the text, I am clear that efforts that I have made to improve Global NPD has drawn on some of the principles listed here. It is good to see a clearly thought through analysis of the problem from somewhere near first principles to back up field experience.

I would recommend this book.
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on 22 September 2014
I was recommended this book by a friend.

However, I found it pretty heavy going. Also I have quite a lot of Agile, Scaled Agile and Program Management experience. (I bought this and several other books to review practices and theories prior to designing training and deployment of Agile to a global team). Whilst I found the theory from this book to be correct, in my experience the models are over-simplistic and cannot be used in real world effectively.
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