Stop treating product development like manufacturing

If your business is like a motorcycle, then manufacturing is like an engine and product development is like the gas that fuels it.  One is made up of rigid structures that are fit together precisely while the other is a volatile and fluid substance that must be handled more carefully.  Both are critical parts of what makes the vehicle fulfill its purpose, but neither are subject to the same rules.

This is what Don Reinertsen and Stefan Thomke are pointing to in their recent collaborative article, “Six Myths of Product Development” (Harvard Business Review, 4/27/12).  What are the myths?  They’re listed below, but for the full text article, hit the link above.

  1. High utilization of resources will improve performance.
  2. Processing work in large batches improves the economics of the development process.
  3. Our development plan is great; we just need to stick to it.
  4. The sooner the project is started, the sooner it will be finished.
  5. The more features we put into a product, the more customers will like it.
  6. We will be more successful if we get it right the first time.

Reinertsen and Thomke draw on examples from Apple, Google, Disney, Ideo and others as they delve into how statistically based methods such as queuing theory and batch size can guide you to better economic performance from your business engine.

MRT Workshop: Second Generation Lean Product Development: Applying the Principles of Flow

Participants of this workshop each get a FREE copy of Don Reinertsen’s latest book which takes this issue to the next level, The Principles of Product Development Flow


2 thoughts on “Stop treating product development like manufacturing

  1. There is definitely a clear difference between product development and manufacturing, excellent point. Without product development, there would be nothing to manufacture.

    • GT says:

      Yes, there is the chicken/egg perspective to this, but the main point is how you can’t apply the same improvement technques to both in a verbatim way, it exposes a shallow view of the core differences between them.

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