Thursday, February 26, 2015

Visual Management in New Product Development

By Pascal Dennis,

Lean thinking is moving out of the factory -- downstream into sales, logistics and order fulfillment, and upstream into finance, marketing and New Product Development (NPD).

We're often asked, how do you apply the fundamentals in these areas?

For example, how might you apply visual management in NPD?

A good first step is to ask, What do we need to know to run our business?

Here are typical answers:

a) What's the project loading at each point (P0, P1, P2) in our development pipeline?

b) What are min/max levels and our status at each point?

c) What are the biggest obstacles in each project?

d) Do we have countermeasure plans? What's their status?

e) What are broader system issues? Do we have countermeasure plans? Status?

Now we're ready to engage our teams in developing visual tools that will make the invisible, visible.

In our coaching work we've used funnels, race tracks, football fields, as well as, team boards and the like.

Visual management is also invaluable in NPD physical plants (e.g. Test Labs), and is similar to what you might find in a factory.

For example:

a) What's this week's work?

b) Are we ahead or behind?

c) What are our biggest obstacles? Countermeasure plans & status?

d) How versatile are our people?

e) What's the loading on our machines? Constraints?

The key, again, is to make the invisible, visible.

Translating Lean principles upstream and downstream of Operations is the new frontier

Enjoy the journey,


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