My background of LPPDE
Let´s start in March 2006. I attended a conference in Chicago called Lean Design & Development, it was a great conference but something was missing. One evening we went out with to have dinner with an interesting author I read, namely Michael Kennedy and his son Brian. They brought a friend, Durward Sobek. We had a wonderful evening with great knowledge exchange! The year after we invited Michael to Sweden and then he told me about LPPDE. An organization with the objective to organize the premier knowledge-sharing forum to build and support a community of Lean Product Development experts and practitioners. That sounded great, count me in for Denver 2008.

I had learnt that you should attend the conference with at least one colleague. I could not convince any colleague to go with me so I made the second best choice, a longtime partner in a LPD network from Chalmers University of Technology Dr Göran Gustafsson. Göran has been to all LPPDE conferences but one from the first one and has become a true learning partner and a deep friend. I also continued the partnership from Chicago with Stefan Bükk who was my co-leader of the Swedish LPD-network where we started learning about LPD some couple of years before. We planned the trip and divided the different tracks between us, we were very anxious to go as we read about LPPDE;

Lean Product and Process Development Exchange, Inc. is a new organization to create opportunities to grow and share the knowledge, expertise and experiences that help organizations use lean product development to dramatically improve product development performance. Our board members include Durward K. Sobek, Katherine Radeka, Michael Kennedy, Rich Gildersleeve and Jim Huntziger. We are in the process of obtaining nonprofit status.

Exchange of knowledge over a dinner
We had learnt that a dinner was a perfect knowledge exchange so we started the eve before the conference with a dinner with Michael and Brian Kennedy. Some very interesting discussions and a lot of new knowledge and old truths were disussed.

LPPDE North America 2008 in Denver – Pre-conference
The conference started with interactive workshops on Monday, April 21, three in parallel:

  • Full day: Leadership Skills for Lean Product Developers with Jamie Flinchbaugh and Katherine Radeka
  • Full day: Effective Use of Value Stream Maps and Process Flow in Product Development with Jim Luckman
  • Morning: Using the Obeya for Visual Project Coordination with Tricia Sutton
  • Afternoon: TRIZ for Knowledge Reuse with Ellen Domb

I enjoyed the Obeya and Visual Project Coordination as that was something we were very much on the way with at home and we had a great knowledge exchange during the interactive workshop.

The afternoon session Ellen Domb turned things around saying it´s all about TRIZ and that you should never make a trade-of! She and Brian Kennedy, who also attended the workshop, had a very interesting discussion during the workshop which I understand continued for several months after! It shows that you always need to have a deeper knowledge to understand.

I went directly to my two Swedish friend to sit down in the evening to compare notes and learn together with Stefan and Göran. Like the preparation to make a VSM they had visualized during the workshop Göran attended which we discussed thoroughly.

LPPDE North America 2008 in Denver
The first LPPDE conference chair Katherine Radeka from the board took the stage to welcome us all to the very first Exchange! Katherine was the project leader (chair) of this conference. Katherine had already had a morning meeting with Rocky Mountain PDMA April Chapter Meeting about Lean Product Development First Steps.

Morning session: Success stories
The headline was “Success Stories” and the opening keynote was Rich Gildersleeve from DJO – Delivering Results through Lean Product Development. Rich, from the board of LPPDE, made a colorful presentation about his companies advances with lean product development. It was the first time I heard someone saying that Lean was not about staff reduction. Of course it is not, I have never heard something that stupid, Lean is about improving! With all the people in the company. But we agreed, it is not about staff reduction. On the other side Rich stressed “LPD is all about the reduction or elimination of non-value add activities. This allows more time for innovation and great product releases”, that was one explanation we used in my company to gain motivation for LPD. Take away non value added time and use that time for innovation! I really enjoyed Richs presentation as it aligned well with my own experience and brought some new ideas, like ProtoStorming: Accelerating the concept development phase. I brought that one home and tested, it worked quite nicely.

Dan Shoenhair of PING Golf followed with “Success Story: How Lean Product Development Prepared PING to Optimize the Knowledge Creation Value Stream”. Dan spoke about Pings long travel along a knowledge based PD and how they worked with customer interests to secure the PD-process maximize the customer value. Their approach with testing first, designing second really felt obvious. They had gone through the PD Value Stream to Knowledge value stream and were now working with the Innovation value stream. A great example of successful knowledge driven PD.

Up next was Dantar Oosterwal, Sara Lee with “Success Story: Knowledge Based Product Development”. Dantar had the title VP of Innovation, a very interesting start. He stated that “Innovation is a driver of our economy…”. Dantar left us with 3 Key Lessons:

  • Be clear about the problemyou are trying to fix
  • Bad systems beat Good People every time
  • P-D-C-A as close to the work as possible

A very thoughtful presentation and I have had the privilege of having many more knowledge exchanges with Dantar over the years.

To sum up the morning there was a Thought Leader Perspective: Tapping Engineering Potential by Durward K. Sobek, Ph.D., Montana State University

Durward started by making us reflect with the question: “What have you learned from the previous three presenters that will change the way you work in some way?” and asked us to write it down! This made me thing really hard about what I could bring home and make real in my professional work. He also asked us to think about if it really was the most important for us to work about and also about how to do it…

He told a story about Vince Lombardi who believet that greatness came from executing the fundamentals, and that should never be forgotten. He also went through the true output from PD: Operational Value Streams. In the 20th LPPDE Exchange I have asked Durward to reflect on this presentation from 2008 and what has happened during these years. That will surely be an interesting presentation.

After lunch we had focused discussions
The group was divided in three parallel tracks for focused discussionsconference started with pre-conference interactive workshops on Monday, April 21, three in parallel:

  • Lean Product Development Flow – Bo Oppenheim, Loyola Marymount University
  • Visual Project Rooms and Obeya Demonstration – Tricia Sutton
  • The Chief Engineer – Michael Kennedy

A great format and I sat in om Michaels discussion and we joined forces all present to discuss the pros and cons of a Chief Engineer system.

Last point of the day was three panels Q&A

  • Knowledge-Based Development –Moderator: Michael N. Kennedy
  • Lean Transformation Leadership – Moderator: Katherine Radeka
  • Lean Software Development – Moderator: Mary Poppendieck

I attended the first panel on knowledge-based development where Michael Kennedy moderated Ron Marsiglio, Ellen Domb, Dantar Oosterwal and Dan Shoenhair. Great discussions, specially whenEllen Domb came back to the theory of not making trade-ofs. That evening the reflection with my two friends Stefan and Göran was quite important as we had all taken in so much more knowledge as well as getting affirmation on quite a few areas.

Day two – morning session
The morning session had the same structure.

Ron Marsiglio, CTO of Teledyne Taptone presented “Knowledge-Based Product Development: One Company’s Journey”. A great journey where Ron decided to go over to Knowledge based development even if it put all deliveries at risk and proved it worked! Even if I have heard Ron tell the story many times afterwards it is still amazing. The succeeded in changing their company culture in a year!

Sarah McCarvill, Otto Bock Healthcare - Success Story: The People Side of Lean Product Development. Sara told the story of the first part of Otto Bocks transformation focusing on the often forgotten “people-side” of the transformation. Even if the story was quite interesting and we have invited her to tell how their journey advanced my main memory was summing up books on a A3 which I have practiced a lot at home over the years, thanks Sarah!

Reaz Rasul, GE Healthcare - Success Story: Beginning the Lean Transformation. Reaz told us about their planning for the transformation where they started with a Lean product development strategic road-map. They surely made a thorough work with their plans.

As first day the morning we ended with a Thought Leader Perspective: The System Level View by Michael N. Kennedy, Targeted Convergence.

Michael went through his description of the needed LPPD-system with the “two-arrow picture” we saw everywhere in Sweden afterwards! A true thought leader perspective!

Afternoon open exchange
Wednesday afternoon we had open exchange sessions for small group discussions on the topics that we wanted to learn more about! Each participant had the opportunity to participate in three different Open Exchange sessions with up to 15 other lean product developers. This was a controlled chance to network with others who are keenly interested in the same areas of lean product development. The conference chair accepted nominations for Open Space sessions on Tuesday afternoon, and we then held a vote on Wednesday morning. Topics receiving enough votes were provided with a Thought Leader to host the discussion, a time and a meeting space for Wednesday afternoon for a small group knowledge sharing session.

The BOD stressed: “This is a great way to dive deeply into a specific area with one of the leading lean product development experts, while you build relationships and share best practices with your peers. We hope this will become a knowledge-sharing tradition at LPPDE”. The open exchange topics were:

  • Customer Needs
  • Global PD
  • Integration events
  • Knowledge creation
  • Lean Software Development
  • Metrics
  • SBCE (Set Based Concurrent Engineering)
  • Software tools
  • True Innovation

Exchange dinner As we started the LPPDE Exchange we ended! Stefan, Göran and myself with our friend Durward Sobek and our new friend Mary and Tom Poppendieck! Another great knowledge exchange and new friends to keep contact with!

A bonus for myself was that I got a ride to the airport in Mary and Toms Jeep! You never get surprised by the possibilities these reflections bring.