The Management Roundtable

Case Study Presentations

Pfizer | Microsoft | Altec | Rapid Refill | Steelcase
GE Healthcare | Abbott Diagnostics

Creating Lean Transformations in Unconventional Places in Unconventional Ways

Dr. Terence M. Barnhart
Director, Strategic Management
& Head of Agile R&D

Pfizer Global R&D

Often, we think of Lean transformations occurring through a top-down "push" of tools and training into our organizations. In initiating its Lean transformation, Pfizer Global R&D (PGRD) reviewed its history, and selected an alternative approach, relying instead on two principles of Lean thinking: "Pull" and fast learning. A study of PGRD history showed that lasting cultural changes often occurred when colleagues "pulled" good ideas into the enterprise from the outside. Often such cases occurred completely without leadership involvement, but these new ideas remained deeply embedded in the culture for years. With this in mind, an approach was developed to initiate Lean into the organization by letting "pull" for good ideas pave the way.

Unfortunately, left to itself, a pull approach can be slow, and uneven. To speed and broaden its impact, Pfizer added a fast-learning engine to the pull process. This engine seeks open opportunities and key opinion leaders who might be interested in Lean change, and lets them trigger the pull into new areas. This strategy has proven highly successful, and has broad implications for others who want to achieve a Lean culture change without heavy-handed implementation programs.

Key Take-aways:

  • Unconventional approaches to inserting Lean thinking into their culture

  • The theory behind fast-learning, and how it can be applied:

    • As a key lever for culture change

    • In improving basic research and development

  • Examples of successful use of fast-learning theory and "pull" types of culture change methods


Implementing Diverse Lean Methods within Multiple Hardware Groups at Microsoft

Andrew Flint
Principal Hardware Engineer
  Kent Huntsman
Director of Test
Xbox 360 Accessories

Microsoft designs a range of hardware products in several distinct development organizations. With development groups that have been in existence from 25 years to under 5 years, the approach to implementing lean has taken different paths in each. The mature organization is more aligned with the structure of the Toyota LPD method and is implementing value stream mapping to identify waste. In contrast, the less mature group has taken on a basic principles approach to LPD and is focused on using small-batch development & test cycles to reduce queues and improve feedback.

In this case presentation, Andrew Flint will outline the common themes that have emerged, the value of flexible resources, and the impact of lean on the current stage-gate model as well as initial results and lessons learned.

Key Take-aways:

  • Understanding the value and impact of flexible resources

  • Recognize that overlapping development phases exist and modify your stage-gate phases to reflect this existance

  • Value-stream mapping is a critical tool to help identify and eliminate waste

  • The addition of small batch development and test cycles can significantly reduce queues and improve feedback


Using Cost of Delay and Lean Economics to Manage Engineering Project Priorities

Judd Clark
Principal Engineer
Altec Industries, Inc.

Despite the addition of a stage-gate approach at projects with pseudo-dedicated project teams, projects often finish late, over-budget, and far from the initial scope. The lack of visibility of current work vs. planned work vs. incoming demand, combined with other urgent customer requests (internal and external) left many feeling a lack of support and effectiveness from the engineering department.

To address the workload/backlog problem, we implemented a kanban system in our engineering department to make the project queue much more visible. The next challenge was to prioritize this queue. We are putting in place a process/guideline for screening incoming requests (rather than documenting everything just to let it sit in a backlog for an indefinite period of time) and recording very basic cost/profit information on each request regardless of the size of the request. This change in our backlog management will allow us to 1) respond to some customer requests with an immediate accept/deny into the backlog (rather than accept everything), and 2) make those decisions based on economics rather than emotion.

Key Take-aways:

  • Functional examples showing multiple applications of a visual management system for the office

  • Application of quick Cost-of-delay calculations/estimates to task-level requests on Product Engineering used to

    • screen requests with data rather than emotion

    • work on the next best opportunity based on dollars

    • merge product development project tasks with other tasks using the same resources

    • provide a valuable metric for determining appropriate staffing


Integrating Suppliers in Set-Based Design Efforts to Reduce Design Risk and Time to Market

Merle Meyer
Vice President
Product Development and Production
Rapid Refill Corporation

In today’s fast paced race to develop new products, many companies continue to rely solely on their limited internal development resources to stay ahead of the market. All too often, companies overlook one of their best allies in the race to reduce time to market: their suppliers. Suppliers provide a wealth of design, process and material knowledge to a design team that can reduce product design time and risk, and offer a broader market view of products under development.

Mr. Meyer will outline the key steps involved in successfully engaging multiple suppliers in a "Set-Based" development process at Rapid Refill. He will explain how this process allows the best product designs to evolve and rise to the top in a real time race to introduce new products on-time, while reducing the project risk by having multiple solutions in development right up to the date of decision.

By attending this presentation, you will come away with:

  • Effective strategies to engage suppliers in your development process to reduce time to market and project risk

  • Knowledge of how to simultaneously develop multiple products that will meet key market requirements


Innovative Lean Development

Mark Swets
Office Lean Consultant
Co-Author, Innovative Lean Development (May 2009)

Steelcase began applying lean principles to its manufacturing facilities in 1996 with excellent results, including a dramatic reduction in its manufacturing footprint and an increase in inventory turns. These positive results led the company to apply lean principles to office processes yielding additional gains in efficiency and a reduction in total cycle time; however, the wastes uncovered were often caused further upstream in the product development process. Thus the logical next step was for Steelcase to apply lean principles to its development process. Lean methods are now used in both the IT application development and in product development areas.

The lean approach for development involves using quick, iterative learning cycles in which the whole team works to complete the objectives of each cycle. Each learning cycle contains the elements of building and testing. The approach generates improved quality and speed through the use of visual controls and frequent management integration points. By incorporating these techniques, Steelcase has reduced development time by over 50% on several key projects.

In this presentation, Mr. Swets will describe several key lean concepts used in this technique including how to:

  • Create flow in development by applying lean value stream-mapping to projects and using improvement kaizens on supporting processes

  • Split the development into quick iterative learning cycles to manage time and costs, and separate execution from the learning phase of the projects

  • Scope out each learning cycle with clear objectives, goals, and trade-offs which are later captured

  • Generate and carry forward multiple concepts, optimizing product value and reducing design wastes

  • Use systematic innovation to create innovative solutions to maximize value and reduce waste


Achieving Growth and Customer Centricity by Applying Toyota's Lean Thinking to Product Development

Reaz Rasul
General Manager
Lean Product Development

GE Healthcare

In 2007, GE Healthcare’s Diagnostic Imaging business began a revolutionary transformation towards becoming a lean product development organization. Specifically, they benchmarked Toyota principles to optimize their product development methodologies to streamline businesses to achieve growth and customer centricity. In this presentation, Reaz will discuss the journey and techniques that this $8B business embarked upon to realize product development excellence.

Key Take-aways:

  • Understand your customers and their specific needs

  • Align for single wing-to-wing ownership

  • Segmentation of business to align with market

  • Outboard innovation from your NPI process


Reducing Design Verification Lead Time through Lean Six Sigma

Theresa Garwood
R&D Project Manager
Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

Abbott Diagnostics

This presentation will illustrate the ability of Lean Six Sigma methods to help achieve significant improvements to product development lead times. This case study will focus on the simple methods and process used to reduce design verification lead times by over 30% while improving the quality and cost associated with this essential phase of product development at Abbott.

Key elements of this presentation will include a discussion of the methods and tools used to:

  • Clearly define the objectives and scope of the improvement

  • Measure the current-state of the Design Verification process

  • Identify the key root causes of waste in the process

  • Select key solutions that would achieve the necessary improvement and implement methods to sustain the improvements

  • Reduce lead time by 60% and process steps by 30 - 40%

  • Increase process cycle efficiencies from 11% to 52%

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