Knowledge base

The 13 principles of Lean Product Development

Unleashing the Power of Lean Product Development: A Guide to Outpacing Your Competition

Did you ever think how Toyota , one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers, maintains a lead over rival companies, introducing new models to the market every 15 months compared to their 24 months? This sort of remarkable achievement is inspiring not only for vehicle fans.

Numerous businesses aspire to similarly enhance their processes in one or another way in various industries. In their 2006 shared book The Toyota Production Production Development System James M. Morgan and Jeffrey K. Liker outline the 13 robust principles that comprise its ‘ secret sauce ’.

I am thrilled to reveal how these principles have the power to revolutionize product development. From ancient wisdom to state-of-the-art technical knowledge and real-world activity plans, these principles will take your project to new heights of performance.

When you integrate these concepts, you empower yourself by giving yourself a strategic advantage that combines performance, ingenuity, and long-term viability for your projects to redefine success.

Principle 1: Value Through the Customer’s Eyes

Above all, how do you start figuring out what our readers and buyers actually want? This principle promotes unpacking one’s process to recognize and remove the wastes of it, in favor of overstuffing: essentially, if it doesn’t add true worth, take it out.

I remember when I worked all day on the enhancement, simply to realize that my TA doesn’t need this. With this in mind, keep in mind everyone who you work for.

Principle 2: Collaborative Creativity

Contrary to common preconceptions, standardization does the opposite of stifle innovation.It reduces variability and enhances predictability, making it the foundation of optimal creativity. This has been the case for me; I have saved countless hours by providing clear decision-making frameworks that allow me to work to the highest standard on every project.

It reduces errors and maximizes workflow while allowing creative solution development, proving that structure does not have to hinder creativity.

Principle 3: The Flow of Innovation

Ensuring a smooth, uninterrupted flow in the development process is crucial. Toyota uses a Value Stream Map to visualize key aspects such as timelines and feedback loops.

It’s like charting a course through uncharted waters, marking every milestone and potential pitfall along the way.

Principle 4: The Power of Standardization

Although it may appear as a contradiction to innovation, standardization is, at heart, reducing variance and increasing predictability, a vital factor in the creation of a creative atmosphere. This particular principle has substantially saved and rescued me from suffering many sleepless nights, since it has predefined decision-making based on clear rules without a testing environment.

It also stabilizes and makes all projects comparable, thus creating the perfect basis for the emergence of innovation, ensuring a stable framework for the survival of creative thought.

Principle 5: Leadership with Vision

Aside from the assumed role of being a project management officer, the chief engineer role at Toyota is also the customer’s voice and overall helm process between concept inception and production. It is clear that a project needs to have an innovative visionary individual who ensures the goal continues the customer’s path.

Principle 6: Bridging Silos

Cultivating certain centristic principles such as achieving a fragile balance of specialization and cross-departmental cooperation will create an environment where all team members are synced toward a single objective and eliminate the detrimental ‘silo’ mindset .

This principle creates a paradigm in which a more integrated, interconnected approach is applied, integrating extant specialization into one shared vision; by eradicating boundaries and departmental distinctions, this concept establishes a ‘homeland’ of reaped expertise, knowledge, and past successes and mistakes – this enables more innovative, comprehensive outcomes that are aligned with a varied set of knowledge and skills.

Principle 7: Mastery of Craft

Toyota’s strategic choice to employ specialists rather than generalists emphasizes its entrenched emphasis on profound, technical excellence which ensures that engineers are motivated – and in fact, expected – to sharpen their abilities and hone their skills thoroughly throughout their professional life.

The output is a dynamic locus of command expertise that powers innovation from the foundation while generating quantum improvements in performance and excellence. With an emphasis on specialized expertise, Toyota ensures that staffs have the sophisticated precision and depth of expertise required to extend the boundaries of their capabilities, setting unprecedented levels for the car market and numerous other sectors.

Principle 8: Synergy with Suppliers

However, integrating suppliers into the development system is more than collaboration; it’s about leveraging their unique expertise to infuse new visions and innovations into the project. This collaborative value boosts the development steps and dimensions, leading to a diverse and comprehensive process.

As such, calling upon the multiple capabilities and perceptions of the suppliers becomes an ideal furnace of the development system. They create an enabling environment of creativity, innovation, and constructive thoughts.

The symbiotic value doesn’t only improve the quality and scope of the development but also a robust and sustainable supply chain that triggers future-oriented solutions and discoveries.

Principle 9: The Learning Curve

Continuous learning and improvement are at the heart of lean development. Reflecting on each project helps in identifying areas for enhancement, fostering a culture of perpetual growth and adaptation.

Principle 10: Cultivating Excellence

Promoting a culture of excellence and continuous improvement shapes the leaders of tomorrow. It’s about leading by example, encouraging every team member to strive for better, to always be learning and evolving.

Principles 11 to 13 – The Final Three: Embracing Technology and Tools

Principles 11 to 13 of Toyota’s framework emphasize the thoughtful application of technology and tools to bolster people and processes, championing the notion that technology should amplify our capabilities, rather than dictate our actions.

By harnessing simple visual communication tools and embracing standardized methodologies, these principles advocate for a development process that is not only more transparent but also significantly more efficient.

This approach ensures that technology acts as a facilitator, enhancing the natural flow of work and enabling teams to focus on innovation and quality. It underscores the importance of technology as a supportive backbone to human creativity and process efficiency, making the development journey smoother and more intuitive.

Through this lens, technology and tools are not seen as the end goal but as pivotal enablers that empower teams to achieve greater outcomes, fostering a culture where progress and efficiency go hand in hand.

Wrapping Up: Lean Product Development as Your Competitive Edge

It is not only possible to adopt these 13 principles; it is crucial to develop your thinking around continuous improvement, innovation, and unwavering customer focus. These principles highlight the most efficient ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your project management and development practices.

However, I am convinced that the most important is not the principle but the synergy effect that they have on the very DNA of your project management and development practices.

Are you ready to take the leap and outpace your competition, whether you’re a seasoned project manager, entrepreneur who is just beginning, or a curious mind willing to share some lean secret with your projects?

Online Lean courses
100% Lean, at your own pace

Most popular article