Pivotal conference on Lean R&D

“Lean,” which is based on the same fundamental principles that underly maneuver warfare, has long been applied to production.  In fact, much, if not most, of what we now call “lean” came from study of the Toyota Production System.  Beginning with a stream of papers from the International Motor Vehicle Project at MIT in the late 1980s, the academic community has documented that the system works to the extent that if you have a competitor who adopts it, and you don’t, you’ve signed your own corporate death Machine that Changed World Coverwarrant.

Less well known is that the same basic underlying principles also apply to R&D. As far as I know, the first paper to document this was “The Second Toyota Paradox: How delaying decisions can make better cars faster,” by Allen Ward, Jeffrey K. Liker, John J. Cristiano and Durward K. Sobek II, and published by the Sloan Management Review in April 1995 (register on their site and you can read it).  Note that the sub-title gives lie to the notion that simply doing what you’re doing now, but doing it faster, is the key to success. A most important paper!!

As it turns out, there is a major conference abrewing out in San Jose on this subject in September. Led by Terry Barnhart, who has done brilliant work in applying Boyd’s concepts to R&D, it looks to be one of the major events in Lean for product development this year.

Here, courtesy of the conference organizers, are particulars:

Workshops that take you from the basics – what Lean in creative areas is all about, to advanced work that is solving problems not previously encountered.

  • Tony Wilcox (former Al Ward student) shares what he learned expanding Lean product development at Harley Davidson
  • Norbert Majerus, Shingo-Prize winner shares what he learned transforming product development at Goodyear
  • Goran Gustafson and Peter Palmer (Chalmers University and Scania respectively) on the basics
  • Don Reinertsen gives you the nuts and bolts of how to make R&D flow

Sessions at the cutting edge of lean

  • How are the US and Russian space agencies using Lean to advance rocket science? Come find out!
  • How can you use external innovation schemes to fill holes in time and content? Henry Chesbrough shares how!
  • How to make sustainable creation and convert it to sustainable innovation? – Sally Domiguez walks you through!
  • And dozens more

Networking sessions and lunches to discuss Lean innovation and product development with your peers

Site visits and tours of interest

  • We go to NASA Ames facility
  • We go to Intel and learn about Lean in the computer chip business

September 18-21
San Jose Marriott and San Jose Convention Center
San Jose, California

For more information and to register, please visit their web site.



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3 thoughts on “Pivotal conference on Lean R&D

  1. Drucker vs. GM: Management Science vs. Management Practice

    Meanwhile, Toyota quietly used the Peter Drucker approach, continuously redefining their approach to “what.” That includes being part of the local community. Who would have foreseen a Japanese auto running in NASCAR? Toyota entered last year. Also last year, Toyota passed GM last year as the number one automobile company in the world; it’s expected to become number one in the US market this year.

    Some amount has been written about how Toyota TPS relates to Boyd and OODA-loops: How Toyota Turns Workers Into Problem Solvers

    To paraphrase one of our contacts, he said, “It’s not that we don’t want to tell you what TPS is, it’s that we can’t. We don’t have adequate words for it. But, we can show you what TPS is.”

    intuition/implicit, similar to fingerspitzengefuhl … aka “finger feel”, an intuition touch metaphor. There is also “Coup d’oeil”, an intuition observe/visual metaphor.

  2. I’ll be attending for the second time this fall. Interesting to note that Don Reinertson is a former Marine and wrote a section in his book “Product Development Flow” that connects his ideas around product development to Mission Command.

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