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Achieving Lean Product Development: Techniques, Economics & Implementation

Date: March 3 - 4, 2009

Location: San Diego, CA

Learn the lean techniques that can provide a quick and lasting return on investment for product development at this highly rated workshop led by noted expert Don Reinertsen


The techniques that are now called “lean methods” have been used for over 50 years in production processes, producing huge economic benefits. These same methods also can be used in product development. In fact, they are the only approach available to simultaneously achieve large improvements in the speed, quality, and cost of product development.

However, using lean methods in product development requires some insight. To succeed we must have a clear idea of what management practices obstruct flow, and how to remove these obstructions. Without this insight we will dilute our energy in lengthy process mapping exercises, and ultimately lose momentum.

This workshop focuses on known leverage points. It concentrates on specific practical methods that have helped participants achieve as much as a 90 percent reduction in cycle time. It uses a unique economic approach to identify which methods will provide the fastest payback and teaches you the science behind the methods.

This seminar is fundamentally different from other workshops in its intense focus on economic justification and practical methods rather than general philosophical principles.

Upon return to your organization, you will have:

  • Your own roadmap and action plan for implementing lean techniques in your development process
  • A comprehensive course book providing all charts and exercises used in the course
  • Answers to your individual application questions – plus phone and email access to the instructor to ensure that you don’t have any unanswered questions from the workshop

Note: This course is limited to 35 participants -- early registration is highly recommended.

Principles of Product Development Flow



Groups of two or more will receive one free pre-publication copy of Don Reinertsen's latest book, The Principles of Product Development Flow. For more info click here.



Attendees of this workshop will receive a complimentary copy of Don Reinertsen's book, Managing the Design Factory.


Due to limited space, this workshop is offered exclusively to industry practitioners. Sorry, but registration applications will not be accepted from academics or consultants.




Workshop Instructor

Don ReinertsenDon Reinertsen is President of Reinertsen & Associates, specializing in the management of the product development process. Before forming his own firm, he consulted at McKinsey & Co., an international management consulting firm, and was Senior Vice President of operations at Zimmerman Holdings, a private diversified manufacturing company. His contributions in the field of product development have been recognized internationally. He is particularly noted for bringing fresh perspectives and quantitative rigor to development process management.

In 1983, while a consultant at McKinsey & Co., he wrote a landmark article in Electronic Business magazine that first quantified the value of development speed. This article has been cited in the frequently quoted McKinsey study that indicated “6 months delay can be worth 33 percent of lifecycle profits.” He coined the term “Fuzzy Front End” in 1983 and began applying world class manufacturing techniques in product development in 1985. His latest book, Managing the Design Factory, is recognized as a powerful and thoughtful application of manufacturing thinking to product development. Don is also co-author of, Developing Products in Half the Time. Mr. Reinertsen holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University and an M.B.A. with distinction from Harvard Business School.


Course Outline

Through experiential exercises, lectures and facilitated Q&A, you will learn how to:

  • Identify and eliminate hidden waste in product development
  • Achieve flow and ensure that your own development process does not undermine it
  • Increase quality levels and contain costs through the effective use of rapid feedback
  • Remove unnecessary variability, discover strategies that reduce its impact and manage risk
  • Develop a step-by-step implementation plan to incorporate lean principles into your own development process

I Introduction
II Establishing an Economic Framework
III Understanding Variability
IV Managing Capacity Utilization
V Reducing Batch Size
VI Creating Cadence & Synchronization
VII Using WIP Constraints
VIII Accelerating Feedback
IX Decentralizing Flow Control
X Finding Waste
XI Implementation

Limited to 35 participants - Register Today!


I. Introduction

Most companies applying lean methods to product development fail to appreciate the critical differences between repetitive manufacturing processes and non-repetitive development processes. Such differences mean that waste is found in very different places. Until this is recognized, companies will only attack easily visible, but superficial forms of waste. This section will cover:

Key Learnings

  • An overview of how lean techniques improve product development speed, quality, and cost
  • An understanding of the critical differences between product development and manufacturing
  • An explanation of importance of Design-in-Process Inventory


II. Establishing an Economic Framework

Every product development process has multiple economic goals. To balance these goals we must express them in the same common denominator. For example, we must quantify the Cost of Delay do determine the economic cost of queues in our process. This section will cover:

Key Learnings

  • How to quantify the Cost of Delay
  • How to use information to improve decision-making


III. Understanding Variability

Variability is a greatly misunderstood concept in product development. Paradoxically, you cannot add value in product development without adding variability, but you can add variability without adding value. A product must be changed to add value, and this change creates uncertainty. This section will cover:

Key Learnings

  • How to distinguish between good and bad variability
  • How to eliminate unnecessary variability
  • How to reduce the economic impact of necessary variability


IV. Managing Capacity Utilization

Many developers still view product development deterministically, assuming that an excess capacity is waste. In reality, development processes need excess capacity to function optimally in the presence of necessary variability. Using queueing theory we can get strong insights on how to quantify the true cost of process queues. This section will cover:

Key Learnings

  • The 10 most important product development queues
  • The two fundamental causes of queues
  • How to quantify the economic tradeoff between queue size and excess capacity
  • How to measure and manage queues


V. Reducing Batch Size

In manufacturing batch size reduction is the single most important factor leading to order of magnitude reductions in cycle time. In contrast, batch size reduction is dramatically underutilized in product development. This section will cover:

Key Learnings

  • The importance of small batch size and how to achieve it
  • The ten most common batch size problems in product development


VI. Using Cadence and Synchronization

Most development processes move work products when deliverables are complete. This drives variability into the schedule. An alternative approach is to move work products on a regular cadence. Product developers using techniques like daily stand-up meetings have achieved large cycle time improvements. This section will cover:

Key Learnings

  • How a regular cadence reduces variance
  • How synchronization reduced queues
  • Examples of synchronized cadence in development processes


VII. Using WIP Constraints

Most product development processes "push" work to downstream processes. They try to schedule activities ingreat detail, at long time horizons. This detail inherently leads to much rescheduling and waste. In contrast, "pull"-based systems smooth flow by using WIP constraints. This section will cover:

Key Learnings

  • The science and economics of WIP contraints
  • Two practical ways to react to WIP explosions
  • The importance of "T-shaped" developers


VIII. Accelerating Feedback

Slow feedback loops cause enormous waste in product development. Yet, many developers do not measure feedback speed or try to improve it. Well-structured feedback loops actually create spectacular opportunities to smooth flow and improve quality. This section will cover:

Key Learnings

  • Why fast feedback is critical
  • How feedback reduces variability and improves flow


IX. Decentralizing Flow Control

Manufacturing uses simple methods like First-in-First-out (FIFO) flow control. Because development projects have different costs-of-delay developers need well-designed priority systems to reduce the total cost of queues. This section will cover:

Key Learnings

  • How dynamic flow control differs from detailed planning and scheduling
  • Using economically-grounded methods for setting
  • task and project priorities
  • The mindset change needed to achieve decentralized control


X. Finding Waste

Because product development processes add value in different ways than manufacturing processes, waste is found in different places. Typically, waste shows up in predictable places in development processes. This section will cover:

Key Learnings

  • Ten common areas of product development waste


XI. Implementation

The final section will review factors that are likely to lead to successful implementation. Course participants will begin designing a plan for implementation. This section will cover:

Key Learnings

  • How to initiate pilot programs and scale them up
  • A group exercise to identify immediate next steps 


Who Should Attend:

This program is designed for managers who play a role in product development. It will be particularly useful to companies that are reaching the point of diminishing returns using conventional approaches to product development and those who wish to quickly get benefits using lean methods..

It is preferred that participants have a basic understanding of lean techniques and at least 5 years of experience in product development. Attendees should bring a calculator, since the course will involve some light calculations.

The techniques covered are general methods of analysis rather than industry specific rules. Just as physics applies to both large objects and small ones, the methods used in this course can be applied in a wide variety of industries.

This course is also available as an onsite workshop To request a proposal for an in-house workshop, please contact Tracey Kimball via email at or by phone at 781-891-8080 ext. 214

Customer Testimonials

Here's what previous workshop attendees had to say about Achieving Lean Product Development:

"Don is a dynamic and influential resource who effortlessly transfers knowledge, leverages experience and provides clarity to typical product development pitfalls. He has a knack of challenging existing paradigms and offering more insightful approaches to enable excellence. Your eye-opening experience is a seminar away."

Chris Bardeggia
Director of Engineering
Global Robust Product Design
Whirlpool Corporation

"This workshop outlays the true lean ways to improve any product development path with clear and measurable techniques."

Tim Acevedo
Group Leader
Engineering Product Innovation
Biolab, Inc.

"Great seminar and presentation. "real life" examples provided great clarification. I am convinced that lean method can be implemented with ease and success. Instructor is well versed and presents material in an understandable and easy communicative manner."

Cindy Bracht
Door Team Leader
Marvin Windows & Doors

"One of the most useful seminars I have attended."

Steve Milz
VP, Engineering
Lincoln Food Service

"thought provoking economic basis for decisions, queue analysis - things I hadn't really considered prior to this course"

Mark Lazar
Manager, Electrical Engineering
Badger Meter, Inc.

"Two very good take-aways are:

stage gate PDP is flawed in implementation - we will have to rewrite our process
usefulness of the cost of delay calculation.
Also, lots of good reinforcement for small batch sizes"

Harold Devisser
Engineering Manager
Husky Injection Molding

“I was very encouraged to have rigor and benefit #’s associated with “common sense,” which is often opposed to required work processes and approaches. Using analytical tools will help me form and articulate recommendations that will be believed and have positive business impact.”

Jeff Coult
Sr. Manager, Engineering

"Many of the concepts and tools address issues and frustrations that I have experienced in product development. I am energized to bring them to my work."

Greg Williams
Group Manager R&D
Dade Behring

"Excellent session! Excellent instructor! Very informative...The course does an excellent job applying lean principles and methods to product development process."

John Manson
Engineering Manager
Kimball International

"Instructor extremely knowledgeable and insightful across a wide range of industries."

Jim Holt
Manager of Systems Engineering
United Defense

"This workshop was very valuable. We're going home with lots of ideas in how to approach improving our R&D organization. The idea of taking small steps to improve a piece of the process quickly is a good approach."

Ken Peterson
Product Development Director
Medtronic Physio-Control

"Good solid focus on product development - introduced new concepts and also served to reinforce core ideas from his product development books and tied it all together nicely. Very practical, experience-based information"

Dave Skerkoski
Development Manager
Keithley Instruments, Inc.

"The commonality and desire to successfully implement new projects are gathered in one room. This gathering of various companies sharing common issues is comforting. We don't feel like we're on this deserted island alone."

Jeffrey Ogi
IPD Lead
Parker Hannifin

"A secondary benefit is the side discussions during meals and breaks. The group consists of people dealing with similar issues. Hearing how they dealt with items and discussing their needs was very helpful."

Randy Horning
Hardware Design Manager
LSI Logic

"Best linkage I've seen of LEAN techniques /terminology to design/development activities."

Kathy Mullen
Design Quality Lead
United Defense

"Very useful, especially since it was a smaller, more intimate group. Content was exceptional and applies to so many and varied industries...Don is an excellent speaker in keeping all participants involved and engaged."

Lisa Ottoson
AVP, Director Product Development
Federal Home Loan Bank

"Great points about how to apply lean to R&D, especially around the information flow applications...Good illustration of the differences between manufacturing and R&D."

Alistair Norval
KOS Director
Eastman Kodak

"Excellent presentation of the key differences between lean in manufacturing and in New Product Development."

John Trainor
Director, Program Management

"This was a great discussion and I learned a lot about lean development and process technique. The information that I obtained will be an asset for my company as we evolve our PD/PM processes."

Richard Obiso
Senior Scientist, Project Analyst

Note: This course is limited to 35 participants -- early registration is highly recommended.

Participation Restriction: Due to limited space, this workshop is offered exclusively to industry practitioners. Sorry, but registration applications will not be accepted from academics or consultants.

Fee: $1995/person.

Fee includes program materials, luncheons, continental breakfasts, refreshment breaks and complimentary copy of Managing the Design Factory.

Workshop Schedule:
Two-Day workshop format. The workshop will be held over the course of two days (see dates above).

Day One:
Registration /continental breakfast: 7:30-8:30am
Session begins at 8:30am and concludes at 5:00pm
Networking Reception: 5:00-6:30pm

Day Two:
Continental breakfast: 7:00-8:00am
Session begins at 8:00am and concludes at 4:30pm

Location & Hotel Accommodations:

The March 3-4, 2009 session will be held at the:

Hilton Gaslamp
401 K Street
San Diego, CA 92101

To make reservations, please call 1-800-HILTONS . Be sure to mention that you are a part of the "Management Roundtable Lean Product Development" group. A limited block of rooms is available at a discounted group rate of $209/night until January 30, 2009. Please reserve early to ensure availability.


You may send a substitute attendee in your place at any time with no penalty (please inform us in advance, if possible). Cancellations made within 5 business days are subject to a $200 administration fee or the full fee can be credited towards a future purchase. No-shows are liable for the full fee.

Workshop Attire:

We recommend attire in the category of "business casual". It is highly encouraged that you also dress is layers when possible to remain comfortable—please be aware that event facilities are notorious for temperature fluctuations throughout the day of the event.

Workshop brochure

Download workshop brochure

How to register

Register for this event:

Or register by phone:

Call 1-800-338-2223 or 781-891-8080 (9:00am - 5:30pm EDT)

In company training

This session can be brought directly to your site. Benefits include:

  • Lower cost per participant
  • Time savings
  • No travel required
  • Content tailored to your specific needs
  • Implementation is jump-started through team participation and instructor's hands-on guidance

Contact 800-891-8080 for more information and price quote.