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The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development Hardcover – May 29, 2009
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This book challenges an awful lot of fashionable ideas on improving product development processes. It provides a vast number of very solid principles that could make a big difference for almost any product development organization, from beginners to the most advanced. It offers a fundamentally different way of thinking about product development processes. Don't read it if you are content with business as usual! ----Andrew Flint, Microsoft Hardware
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
For those who hunger for a rigorous approach to managing product development, Donald Reinertsen's book is epic. Myths are busted on practically every page, even myths that are associated with lean/agile. For example, take the lean dictum of working in small batches. I push this technique quite often, because traditional product development tends to work in batches that are much too large. Yet it's not correct to say that batch sizes should be as small as possible. Reinertsen explains how to calculate the optimal batch size from an economic point of view, math and all. It's wonderful to have an author take these sorts of questions seriously, instead of issuing yet another polemic.
The book is structured as a series of principles, logically laid out and briefly discussed - 175 in all. It moves at a rapid clip, each argument backed up with the relevant math and equations: marginal profit, Little's law, Markov processes, probability theory, you name it. This is not for the faint of heart.
The use of economic theory to justify decisions is a recurring theme of the book. Its goal is to help us recognize that every artifact of our product development process is really just a proxy variable. Everything: schedules, efficiency, throughput, even quality. In order to trade them off against each other, we have to convert their impact into economic terms. They are all proxies for our real goal, maximizing an economic variable like profit or revenue. Therefore, in order to maximize the true productivity (aka profitability) of our development efforts, we need to understand the relationships between these proxy variables.
Reinertsen synthesizes several tough subject areas: queuing, ToC, Lean, and Real Options. There's rigor here, but it's incredibly accessible and presented in a set of concise principles.
I've bought copies to hand out, and I'm promoting this as a way to put business, technology, and marketing all on the same page. If we can all talk about the cost of delay, then all kinds of emotion-based debate just evaporates.
when someone asks me what to read about product development.
He wrote Managing the Design Factory and co-authored (with
Preston Smith) Developing Products in Half the Time: New Rules,
New Tools (2nd Edition). (The third book I recommend is the
first half of Kiyoshi Uchimaru's TQM for Technical Groups.)
Reinertsen has now written an important new book, The Principles of
Product Development Flow -- Second Generation Lean Product
Development. On page 1 of this book, Reinertsen states his ambition
for the book: "I believe that the dominant paradigm for managing
product development is fundamentally wrong....I believe a new
paradigm is emerging, one that challenges the current orthodoxy of
product development. I want to help accelerate the adoption of this
new approach. I believe I can do this by helping people understand
it. That is the purpose of this book."
I agree that practices like the phase gate review process are a
mistake (and counter productive in even more ways than Reinertsen
lists). My impression from my years leading development organizations
is that the developers themselves also thought much of current
practice was misguided, but they were stuck with what is claimed to
be "best practice."
Reinertsen's book does not give a new process for product
development. Rather, he provides explanations of what is wrong with
current practice, a discussion of eight general "themes" for
improvement, and 175 principles (divided among the eight themes) upon
which to base one's thinking as one develops one's own product
Buy the book. It is excellent. It will help you figure out how to do
product development better in your own organization.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I very much enjoyed reading a 'management' book which doesn't shy away from nitty-gritty mathematics. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Amazon Customer
This book is a refreshing read. Product developers have normalized and internalized bad practices for so long that it's often impossible to see why we so often fail. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Trevor Crosse
*The* reference on flow management...a little dense, but if you want to understand lean flow, then you should be prepared to put in a little effort. Highly recommended.Published 2 months ago by J. Smith
The book takes and combines many of the project management/quality approaches such as critical chain, lean, etc.. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jeffery
Illuminating. Game changer. A Must read, likely more than once. Not easy to decipher and very dry until the spark behind the ideas takes hold. Brilliant work.Published 4 months ago by Farrar Brian John