The second LPPDE conference started bad for me

I got a “save the date” flyer” with a magnificent photo of the venue, Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.

As I really enjoyed the first LPPDE in Denver I made a print-out and marched into the office of my boss and said: “I want to attend, is it ok?” He looked at the picture and returned the flyer with the words “this doesn´t seem like work”. He didn´t even look at the back where a short agenda was written!

Ok, I really wanted to attend and I had already spoken with Katherine Radeka who once again was the event chair about making a plenary presentation on “The Power of Visual Planning” so I needed to go.

I thought about my tactics and decided: I´ll have to wait some weeks so he forgets this and go for a second attempt with a better motivation, starting with the agenda. The website had a very useful quote to motivate my participation: “I felt like you designed this conference just for me”. That has been my feeling every time. On the thought leader side they announced: Durward Sobek, Michael Kennedy, Katherine Radeka, Jamie Flinchbaugh, Ellen Domb, Mary Poppendieck and Tricia Sutton. But there were also some new (but well-known LPD gurus): Ron Mascitelli, Drew Locher, Jim Luckman and David Cochran). All these at the same place for three days. What a knowledge exchange this would be!

As before I started finding some friends to come with me. From Chalmers University of Technology Göran Gustafsson came with his colleague Mats Alemyr and Ludvig Alfredson, PhD student. We also got the company of a fellow member of our Swedish LPD network, Håkan Swan, president of Ivolver. A great team which I needed even more in the end than I knew then.

Göran and Håkan started thinking about doing a special presentation. We were all three involved in some different initiatives at Chalmers University of Technology training professional engineers. That was a subject Göran was very interested in getting feedback on from the LPPDE community. Katherine was glad to give them a speaking slot.

The Lehman Bros crash
The economic crash hit hard and our volume dropped 62% in a short time. So unfortunately, I had to write to Katherine and tell her that it was impossible for me to attend, and to present. Our company’s contingency plan in order not to have to let people go was not to work on Fridays and to lower salaries by 10%. Immediately. Even if I could have paid the travel myself it felt wrong as my entire company agreed on the solution, and we actually avoided making a loss, even this year (our last year of loss is 1934!). I asked for Katherine’s understanding and promised to make up for it in the future. Later I heard that the second day’s keynoter, Colin Gilchrist from Fisher & Paykel in New Zealand, also dropped out for the same reason. Poor Katherine, the job as chief engineer of a conference is not easy.

LPPDE North America 2009 at Hilton Head – Pre-conference
The conference started, as the previous year, with interactive workshops on Monday, April 6
Three full day workshops:

  • Lean Product & Process Development Executive Forum with Durward Sobek, Michael Kennedy & Katherine Radeka
  • Effective Use of Value Stream Maps & Process Flow in Product Development with Jim Luckman
  • Lean Product Development Toolkit with Ron Mascitelli

And two half-day workshops:

  • TRIZ for Knowledge Sharing with Ellen Domb
  • Lean Design with Dave Cochran

I would have liked to attend all of them!

My colleagues attended the VSM workshop with Jim Luckman. During the workshop Jim stressed the misuse of P-D-C-A. Often companies are quite good at the P, and sometimes at P-D, but very seldom are they good at the C-A. Jim stressed the importance of using P-D-C-A to “Grasp the situation”. With VSM one should detect the three types of work:

  • Value creating work
  • Incidental work
  • Waste

Then you can focus on increasing the value-creating work. Jim focuses much on knowledge creation and efficient flow of information. He stresses the need to understand the flow and to see all interdependencies.

The group did a practical training part on rapid learning cycles to solve problems faster and to learn what is needed for the product development. The rest of the day was spent on the basics of VSM; Scoping - Current state – Future state – Planning and implementation, within a 90-day cycle. It was very useful to do this together with other PD people and with PD cases.

LPPDE North America 2009 at Hilton Head
This time the LPPDE conference chair Katherine Radeka had Dan Shoenhair from PING Golf as Master of Ceremonies, so he had the pleasure of welcoming everyone and to kick-off the conference.

The first speaker was listed as a “special guest speaker”, and that was Benjamin Wolff of Hofstra University – Product Development in the Arts, How a Classical String Quartet Uses a Lean Process To Get From Rehearsal to Performance. In a very engaging way Benjamin shared how he uses lean principles to unlock creativity in his music program. The presentation is difficult to describe as it consisted of lots of audio and video clips. It was quite clear though that the need of teamwork is as important in an orchestra as elsewhere.

Morning session: Success stories
The first success story was Cathal Flanagan from Kulicke & Soffa talking about The Power of LAMDA.

Cathal presented a timeline showing that they started with LPD and Agile in SW at the same time, to follow with Agile in HW after some months. An early conclusion was that agile was not enough for the Product Development process.

She stressed the use of LAMDA to really understand what happens and to take the right decisions in the different Product Development phases.

After the mid-morning break, Bill Butler of TRW took the stage to talk about The Roll-Over Airbag Inflator Development. The presentation started with “The customer is not happy with our product”. So TRW started using LPPD methods; They established a war-room where they locked up five engineers for several days to:

  • Identify the functional requirements
  • Capture what they knew and didn´t know

After that they started generating relationship curves based on the knowledge they had as well as functional logic maps to identify the knowledge gaps. From that they generated test plans to capture the missing data to produce limit- and trade-off curves. Five months later they had a customer visit who now was very happy as TRW could show that they met all targets and were able to present the knowledge in a visual way. Everything seemed great, but then the functional tests failed. They had violated a limit curve, they had generated the knowledge but not transferred it. This was now the next step for TRW, to establish a better system for transfer of knowledge. I really liked this case as there is a lot of learning for the audience in what worked, as well as in what didn´t.

Katherine Radeka gave her thought leader perspective with the title Getting Results with LPD. As in the previous year there was a practical training during the session where the attendees had to specify good objectives. So important and so difficult.
Key takeaways from the session:

  • Rational argument leads to debate – personal connection leads to change.
  • People are most open to change when they are under moderate stress – too little stress leads to apathy and too much stress leads to overload.
  • Programs succeed when they have measurable objectives with clear connections to personal meaning for the people who need to change the most.

Afternoon Breakout sessions
After the, now already standard, 1,5 hour networking lunch planned to give good space for networking with new and old friends everyone returned for the afternoon breakout sessions, three in parallel.
Göran Gustafsson & Håkan Swan – How To Teach An Old Engineer New Tricks
My friends kicked off with their key question: How can you achieve Lean PD transformations in companies, including changing the behaviours of old, experienced engineers? And wanted to test their hypothesis that it is possible to achieve LPD transformation through open university courses for executives and designers. <

Chalmers has two courses:

  1. A Lean Product Development Executive Course
    • To introduce the concept of Lean Product Development, with background, values and principles, and methods
    • To give a framework for implementing Lean PD
    • To guide in the development of a strategy and implementation plan for the company
  2. A Lean Product Development Designer Course
    • To introduce the concept of Lean Product Development, with background, values and principles, and methods
    • To provide a foundation for continued studies of LPD
    • To develop proficiency in different LPD methods and tools

This was a true exchange presentation with some great discussions and improvement proposals.

Mary Poppendieck – Where Did Post-It® Notes Come From? Product Development at 3M
Mary told the Post-It® Notes story to describe Lean Product Development at 3M. “Ask Forgiveness, Not Permission” was the way of thinking. If you give your people liberty to be creative and to pursue good ideas, they believe that you will succeed. Mary also talked about some simple rules at 3M:

  • The 30% rule – 30% of the products must be less than four years old which forces management to seek & support new product ideas
  • The 15% rule – The scientists are encouraged to spend 15% of their time on projects of their own choice
  • A champion for all new projects who provides technical leadership, overall design and market focus
  • The forum for presentation and discussion

Very interesting, where Mary demonstrated her vast knowledge of the subject. <

Lewis Kennebrew & Tricia Sutton – Lean Service Development
Focus was on understanding the differences and similarities between product & service development and to discuss different tools and methods used in LSD. Some of the tools they had used were LAMDA, A3s, integration events, team of responsible experts, heavy-weight PMs, visual knowledge and decision matrices. <

Afternoon Panels
The day concluded with three parallel panels

  • LAMDA Culture – Moderated by Durward Sobek, with Cathal Flanagan, Jamie Flinchbaugh and Al Krema
  • Lean + Agile – Moderated by Katherine Radeka, with Pat Elwer, Ted Rivera and Mary Poppendieck
  • Lean Tools – Moderated by Rich Gildersleeve, with Brian Kennedy and John Wylie

The day ended with the traditional networking reception from where small groups left for deeper networking over dinner.

Day two – morning session
The morning session started with a keynote from Ted Rivera with IBM – The Second Wave: Building on Lean+Agile Progress. After discussing which way to go, lean or agile, IBM chose both. They defined seven lean principles:

  1. Eliminate waste
  2. Build quality in
  3. Create knowledge
  4. Defer commitment
  5. Deliver fast
  6. Respect people
  7. Optimize the whole

I do recognize these from Mary Poppendieck as well. Ted ended by stressing the importance for the team at regular intervals to reflect on how to become more effective and then adjust its behavior accordingly.

  • Ron Marsiglio, CTO of Teledyne Taptone came back on public demand to present The Next Chapter in the Teledyne Story. Ron told us about the deep and fast cultural change of his company. He started with the origins of Knowledge based product development telling the story of the Wright brothers. Ron talked about two types of knowledge:
    • Knowledge of true customer interests
    • Knowledge to design the products
    He also talked about the knowledge drain through emails, engineers leaving, and forgotten and inaccessible information. He talked very enthusiastically about knowledge briefs, or K-briefs, and how he had demanded all knowledge in a K-brief on a A3 piece of paper. If it´s not documented in a K-brief it just does not exist, he stressed as CTO.

    After the break we went over to a success story by Al Krema of Progeny Inc. – The Concept Paper in Product Development. Al was the chief engineer of the project which he presented and also documented in a concept paper. A real case study!

    As on the first day, the morning ended with a Thought Leader Perspective: Product Development Through A Lean Lens, with Jamie Flinchbaugh. Jamie is a great lean thinker and talked around the topic of Building a platform for improvement. He stressed that we need to change our way of thinking, and not only introduce some new tools. Thinking is central, surrounded by systems, tools and evaluation. He talked about the principles of lean and how they drive behavior. If you want to change a culture, you need to accept that your principles are a product of past experiences which you need to change in a systematic way. He ended up with: “Be the change you wish to see. Lean begins with you!” So very true.

    Afternoon Deep Dive Sessions
    Wednesday afternoon had Deep Dive Sessions, first:
    • Durward Sobek – Set-Based Concurrent Engineering and Integration Events
    • Ellen Domb – TRIZ Case Studies
    • Ron Mascitelli – Lean Product Architectures
    And after the mid-afternoon break:
    • Tricia Sutton – Visible Knowledge Tools
    • Drew Locher – Value Stream Mapping: What and When?
    • Katherine Radeka – Lean PD Implementation Strategies
    The conference also featured an A3 wall of fame where different A3s were exposed, and the best was elected by Durward Sobek.

    The last point was: Call to Action: It´s Michael Kennedy. The question to everyone was: So, what are you going to do Monday? Very important to do something different and improved when one comes home. Michael explained LAMDA again and then he had everyone discuss with his neighbor what they were going to do and what they had done. He challenged everyone saying that doing nothing is unacceptable, the minimum was to send an email to LPPDE and tell where they had failed in the conference …

    A nice part behind the stage was a welcome letter sent out to all the speakers where Katherine Radeka told that LPPDE practices what they preach. Using LAMDA to solve problems and delaying decisions until the last responsible moment, using a modular approach and using visual communication to keep everyone informed. This is always difficult but nice when practiced!