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Managing the Design Factory Hardcover – October 1, 1997

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Editorial Reviews


Warren S. Nix President and CEO, Lumonics Corporation This book is absolutely essential reading for product team leaders who must "do" rather than debate. I will require that all senior executives at Lumonics read this book.

Neil Hagglund Corporate Vice President and Director of Corporate Technology Planning, Motorola, Inc. A valuable and much needed view of the product development process. Engrossing and stimulating reading flill of excellent tools and firmly anchored on the basic reality of why we do product development -- to make a profit!

Art Lane General Manager, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Storage Solutions Division At Hewlett-Packard we continuously strive to improve our product development methods, but too often only look internally for ideas. I would recommend this book because it impresses me as a source of sound, practical advice from Don's broad industry experience.

Kevin Sharer President and COO, Amgen Provides real world, usable advice and challenges managers to think about issues of enduring importance.

Robert T. Franzo Manager, Messaging and Digital Mobile Radio, Wireless Communications Products, IC Group, Lucent Technologies A compelling new model for profitable product development. Don Reinertsen reveals some of the best kept secrets to running a decision and profit based development process. This book will be a key resource for organizations using product development to compete in the competitive dynamic market we all encounter.

Dr. Paul Borrill Chief Scientist, Sun Microsystems A brilliant and unique perspective on the economic and business dimensions of product design. Reinertsen's insights into the human and economic dimensions of product design are outstanding.

About the Author

Donald G. Reinertsen is head of Reinertsen & Associates, a firm that specializes in new product development. He also teaches at the California Institute of Technology and has attracted a worldwide following among managers, designers, and engineers. He holds an engineering degree from Cornell and an MBA from Harvard. He and his family live in Redondo Beach, California.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (October 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684839911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684839912
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Scott Wallace on January 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I bought this and about five other books on product development. Without question, this was the best.
Reinertsen has an effective writing style that is engaging and informative. His examples are relevant and illustrative; even when not immediately on point with my business, they helped me to understand a concept.
The book builds on some fairly simple - but enormously powerful - tools including basic financial modeling and queuing theory. Reinertsen explains why the tools are relevant and how to employ them across a spectrum of businesses. He then uses the tools to substantiate some remarkable product development concepts that he presents later in the book.
The book is - thankfully - devoid of pithy phrases and buzz words. It teaches methods and ways of thinking. It doesn't profess answers, but it has driven an enormous amount of our product planning and product development efforts.
I haven't found a better book on the subject.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By David Walden on October 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Over years of working to improve the process of new product development in organizations with which I have been associated, I have read many books on new product development and reducing cycle time of new product development. I regularly am also asked about these topics in college and executive courses I teach. There is no single book that completely covers these topics. However, if you only have time to read one book, I think Reinertsen's book is the one to start with. It is a real eye opener. Many profound(!) and extraordinarily productive concepts and methods are presented in a reasonably sized, easy to understand volume. You won't go wrong in buying it.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Doktor Octo on February 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
If you're looking for a book to arm you with the latest buzzwords and easy answers, this is not for you. If you're looking for a useful framework for thinking about product design and tools for applying principles, this is an excellent buy. This book is clearly written, well-organized, and full of useful information.
Unlike many management books, it's not 20 pages of information stretched out to 200 pages in order to make a book. Also, unlike most product development books, this book is of great value not just to product managers and designers, but would be a great read for financial managers and marketing managers. A manufacturing manager reading this book will smile with satisfaction at seeing common modern manufacturing principles well applied to the design realm.
The only weak points I can think of are: 1) That it may be useful for the author to break out case studies rather than keeping them in the same typeface intermingled with the rest of the text. 2) No real advice is given on how to overcome real-world resistance to these ideas. Some sage advice on how to introduce these concepts and tools into organizations with existing biases and cultures could be a real benefit to practitioners. These are minor objections though.
Whether you're in a software start-up or part of a Fortune 500 company design team doing existing product improvement, this book contains useful information that will enhance your understanding of what you're doing right and what you could do better - and WHY!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Managing the Design Factory; A Product Developer's Toolbox, by Donald G. Reinertsen, is an important book on how successful companies should develop new products. Many popular management books share some common themes such as; JIT, kanban, lean manufacturing, reducing WIP, quick turn times, low inventory. Unfortunately, the development process in most companies has been slow to apply these insights to their engineering and design practice. Reinertsen does a superb job of showing how this is done. The Design Factory exists for one purpose - the same as the manufacturing factory - to make a profit. The focus of the book is on tools, not rules and rituals. These are practical tools that account for varied situations. The information is presented in a form that an engineer can understand and appreciate, but without unnecessary difficulty. There are excellent sections on queue and information theory, and capacity utilization and batch size, and on eliminating useless controls. I agree completely with the `do it, try it, fix it' approach to development, and not being burdened with trying to make it right the first time. Every practicing design engineer should read this book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John V. Levy on May 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have never seen so much good advice about product development in one place. Applying concepts from manufacturing, finance, queuing theory and communications theory, Reinertsen proposes many ways in which we can design better processes for development.
For example, if we were to view the investment in design work as a depreciating asset, like work-in-process inventory in the factory, we would be able to make better decisions about time, manpower, and project delay tradeoffs.
Key concepts include: valuing design work based on its financial impact on the organization; learning as much as possible as early as possible in the development cycle; managing queues in the development process; creating specifications which are flexible for as long as possible, so that evolving customer requirements can be accommodated.
He clearly shows that we can optimize development work on only one of the following parameters: Product cost, product performance, speed of development, development expense. The approach for each one is different, and it is important to be clear which one is primary.
There is a wealth of useful and practical advice in this book. For example, here are some comments on testing:
"Too often testing is viewed as a necessary evil in the development process. It only exists because we make mistakes. If we made fewer mistakes, we would not need to do all this testing. We should spend our money on `designing in quality' instead of finding defects by testing. The result of such an attitude may be a test department that is under-resourced and under-managed. Unfortunately, by viewing testing as a problem, rather than an asset, we miss the opportunity to capitalize on the extraordinary improvements that can take place in product testing.
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