1. Lean Principles to Achieve Innovation and Faster Time to Market
Companies have to develop innovative and high-quality products faster than their competitors to create temporary monopoly periods with maximum profitability. However, they usually have tight deadlines and limited budgets for new product development projects. To overcome this challenge, high-performance companies apply a “lean” business analysis, design, and development approach that has its origins in the Toyota car production system. Lean mainly focuses on eliminating muda (waste) throughout the product development lifecycle (PDLC) and passing resource savings to innovative projects. Waste elimination can be achieved by injecting the following lean principles into the companies’ DNA:
1. Be Value-Oriented -Focus on producing outcomes (value) rather than outputs (deliverables). -Always prioritize product features; focus on “must-have” rather than “nice-to-have" ones. -Eliminate the waste of low-priority product features that are not essential for customers.
2. Be Customer-Centered -Be like the sun but not the moon; illuminate yourself with the light of your customers instead of your competitors. Concentrate on being more responsive to the needs of your target customers instead of benchmarking yourself with your competitors. -Be customer-centric rather than product-centric. Consider products not as an objective but as a tool to meet your customers’ needs. -Develop products around your customers. Always listen closely to the “voice of your customers” throughout PDLC. Set up and maintain a continuous customer feedback loop. -Ask customers about their needs but not their proposed solutions. Remember Henry Ford’s famous quotation: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
3. Be Iterative -Start your product development journey with small steps. Think big, but start small. -Be patient; remember that Rome was not built in a day. -Move evolutionary rather than revolutionary: Use prototypes to gather early customer feedback. At the initial iteration, release a core version of the product including only high-priority features. In following iterations, use customer feedback from previous releases to refine the product by adding, updating, and even dropping features. Iterate until the product satisfies business and customer needs.
4. Be Simplistic
-Remember that less is much more in the lean approach. Do not complicate it.
-Focus on “just enough” and what is necessary to satisfy customer needs.
-Appreciate downsizing the product by removing nonessential features, rather
than upsizing it with bells and whistles.
-In determining product features, think as if you are decorating a small house.
Don’t make your users feel claustrophobic as if they’re in a small, crowded
space with a lot of furniture.
5. Don’t Be Afraid of Early Failure
-Remember the famous quotation from American scientist and author Dr. James
Jay Horning: “Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from
-Be adaptive, learn early from failures in initial iterations, and use this
experience for later ones.
-Focus on kaizen, which means continuous improvement, at all levels of PDLC
by using lessons learned at previous iterations.