Product Launch

Can You Learn The Menlo Way? 0

Joyful and disciplined “agile” methodologies are the foundation on how Menlo Innovations have built their business culture. At this date, I am sure there is only limited seating left for this action packed day at Lean Frontiers outstanding training facility in Indianapolis, IN. In the August 26th session you will learn…

  • how Menlo’s iterative design processes uncover root problems and provide a framework for adapting project requirements as needed
  • the tactile methods Menlo uses to plan project tasks, ensuring transparency with project sponsors around project cost and timeline
  • about the importance of estimation and actual in project planning
  • about what it means to remove fear from your company culture and the impact on team communication around project deadlines and more

I had the pleasure of interviewing Menlo founder and chief Agilist, Rich Sheridan and discuss the Menlo WayTM below is an excerpt of the podcast where I asked him about the workshop.

Related and Podcast and Transcription: Foundations of the Menlo Culture

Joe: Tell me about the upcoming workshop. Who is it for and who will get the most out of it?

Rich: We’ve been offering workshops for years; pretty much since our inception. It’s always been our intention to have education as part of our offerings. I’ve gotten to know Jim Huntzinger’s team down at Lean Frontiers in Indianapolis. “Jim, why don’t we bring our intro to the Menlo way on the road and bring it down to your crowd in Indianapolis?” So, Jim was gracious enough to offer his space to bring this message on the road.

What it is, is a daylong exploration of the culture we’ve created and the processes that support that culture. What you’ll learn about in this Intro to the Menlo way is a bit of my history, how did I get here, why is this important (not just to Menlo but to the industry), and what challenges the industry is facing. There’s a bit of introductory material. Then we start walking through our process. How do we do planning? How do we do estimation? How do we do work authorization? How do we measure ourselves?

Our simple, repeatable, measurable structure here works on these five-day gears that turn (if you will) on the plan, execute, and measure cycle which probably sounds a lot like PDCA for the Lean folks. We just walk through all these pieces and parts. Quite frankly, a lot of the day, I will be leading this session. A lot of the day is people just peppering me with questions because there’s so much that we do that’s paradoxical that people just want to start digging in. They’re like, “Really? Two people on one computer? How is that more productive than two people working individually? What do you do when two people don’t get along and how do you find people who like to work like this? How do you interview and hire them?” What I say about each one of these sessions is that it’s very unique because it’s driven by the questions. I got way more than eight hours worth of material to share. The only way I can pair that down is to chase down the questions that people are asking me as I walk them through the structure of the day.

Joe: I think that’s a great way to put on a presentation. Interactivity instead of looking at a bunch of PowerPoints and being taught is the participation.

Rich: There is no workbook. There is no PowerPoint. It’s very visual. I’ll probably show a few pictures because it’s on the road. I’ll probably have a projector with some pictures of our space so people can actually visualize it because we’re not going to be in the room.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Special Marketing with Lean Book and Program offers on Facebook

Managing Your Products Lifecycles 0

The most difficult thing to do sometimes is to say I am done. How do you know when a product/service is finished? In Lean Thinking, we design (EDCA) for PDCA and only after we standardize do we consider the initial design finished. We are only finished when the product lifecyle is completed.

How are you at managing your Products Lifecycles? Are they being managed from Conception to Disposal or in a Green world, Recycled. I find this quite often an area that can develop rapid growth and additional streams of income very quickly. The organizations that are doing well in this economy are a result of taking a more outside in approach to the product lifecycle. Using a very simple Lifecycle diagram made up of five components, we can demonstrate this approach.

What most companies are doing:

  1. Innovation & Engineering: Using new innovations tactic they are designing products with greater flexibility offer more product choices and flexibility later in the design process, Toyota Scion.
  2. Manufacturing: Lean processes have made tremendous advances in manufacturing the past several decades and has changed the way we view our own products. Learning to See Customer Value from the eyes of the customer has allowed for significant improvements in quality and customer satisfaction.
  3. Sale & Distribution: At the point of sale, customers now experience more choices, more flexibility and better pricing than they have ever had.
  4. Maintenance & Repair: Our expectations due to the advancement in quality accept little if any repair or maintenance during the entire lifecycle. We probably will throw it away before fixing it. However, when we do we will take it to a specialist versus doing it ourselves.
  5. Disposal & Recycling: We expect more of our items to be recyclable. Or is there is value left, saleable and that there is an easy distribution method for that to happen. A few examples are E-bay or Craigslist.

This is the normal lifecycle and expectations of most products and even services. So what makes you better? What differentiates you? It is a difficult chore to do it. It is even more difficult to get someone to notice it. And even more difficult to get someone to pay for it!!

What are the successful companies doing: Some companies make one of these areas a differentiator and target a customer segment that values that component. You can possibly charge more if that value proposition is strong enough for that segment or you can make it a minimal cost by burying it in the total cost of the service, such as a subscription rate. That price difference may seem minimal to that customer segment. Another way is to make one of these propositions an operational advantage that actually is saving you money. This is similar to the Theory of Constraints, Mafia offer. Companies are also partnering with others to create additional income streams and to maintain better customer “control”. For example, these companies may offer the ability to take and/or dispose of trade-ins. Or, additional service contracts, product attachments or aftermarket products may be possible.

What are the really successful companies doing: The really successful companies are not improving but looking at a totally different lifecycle. They realize that the value of product has diminished. There may even be little value place in the cost of ownership. The value is derived from the use of the product not in owning the product. So, they are looking at how to create value throughout the entire lifecycle.

  1. Innovation & Engineering: Using Design Thinking Process, we focus on delivering to the customer Rapid Prototypes or Minimum Viable Products to garner their acceptance.
  2. Manufacturing: These processes are becoming practically secondary in nature. This is not where you make your money but where you continue your journey of development. No longer is software delivered in a box, it is in the cloud. You sell iPads, iPhones and iPods or even cars but the value is in what this enables the customer to do.
  3. Sale & Distribution: It is an entry point through a community and a joint-education process with the customer.
  4. Maintenance & Repair: Maintenance and repair is practically non-existent. This is where we maximize the value for the customer and extend his ability to do business better.
  5. Disposal & Recycling: Since there was little if any original value, there is little if any disposal or it is just a matter of returning it to you.

Think of what Amazon does.

  1. Innovation & Engineering: They have created Kindle and made a unique shopping experience that few match.
  2. Creating Content: They package, publish and inventory books.
  3. Educations and Community: Over 50% of the books sold on Amazon are electronic. This has now created a one-time fee for the Kindle, the cost of an eBook and instant delivery at the point of sale has made the purchase a minimal part of the experience. The price is relatively not an issue in most cases. It is just as often a decision based on the time you have. They educate you about product and though it may be a stretch since they have been around so long, were introduced through a community or eWOM.
  4. Maintenance & Repair: How often do you visit Amazon, just for a book purchase? They make a book purchase an adventure. You are updated, notified, asked for opinions, receive recommendations and watch your package travel to the destination. It is a journey with numerous touch-points that extend to your next purchase.
  5. Disposal & Recycling: Accept used book returns and allows you to loan certain books on Kindle.

As you develop your product lifecycle to an outside–in-approach it creates more touch points and more opportunities to interact with the customer. It also allows you greater opportunity to add value to your customer’s experience. That value will become an integral part of the way they do business. The strongest differentiator you can have.

Extra Material:

Don Reinertsen Books: Managing the Design Factory and The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development

Podcast: Creating Flow with Don Reinertsen (There is not an eBook)

Ramblings on Lean Product Development and Design 0

So what has happened to Lean Product Development and Lean Design? I had mentioned Allen Ward previously and his pioneering work in the area of Lean Development. Allen unfortunately passed away several years ago ( a tribute to his work) and his torch; I believe has best been picked up by Michael Kennedy who has written several books on the subject. The picture below was created from his book,Product Development for the Lean Enterprise: Why Toyota’s System is Four Times More Productive and How You Can Implement It and represents the change gap between past product design and future product design. As you can see design and innovation pulls from the expertise of the workers (knowledge-based) rather than management creating direction (structured).

Kennedy Change Gap

This is Lean Design of the future. If you envision the Business Model Canvas of Alex Osterwalder’s as the value stream, you will see how Lean is poised to create the eco-system that is need for new product/service development. It is Lean Thinking, that culture of PDCA embedded in the workforce that creates the pull and the resulting flow from and with the customer. This is how demand is created. Without the existing culture, the existing eco-system every product has to be a breakthrough. Even Apple understands, watch this video.

I cannot think of a better description, of how I look at Design and how in the power of the story lies the secret to innovation. Dorsey also explains his admiration for Apple’s ability to tell epic stories. The secret of Apple’s success, I always thought were the exact points he describes in this video.

P.S. I agreed with so much of what this guy says that have to admit that I think he is brilliant!

Are we there yet? The last few years we are now seeing implementation of the Lean 3P principles of Design. Development of the 3P process is attributed to Chichiro Nakao, a former Toyota group manager and the founder of Shingijutsu company. The accepted meaning of 3P is Production, Preparation, Process. Toyota delivers product designs on schedule 98% of the time (as stated by @flowchainsensei on twitter). Now, I am not sure how I can confirm this statement except that I believe this source to be accurate and even if Bob was 50% wrong, it would mean Toyota still exceeds the majority. However, after interviewing Allan R. Coletta, author of a new book The Lean 3P Advantage: A Practitioner’s Guide to the Production Preparation Process and reading the book, I can understand and believe that statement. This is an excerpt from the book:

Lean 3P is a powerful enabler for invention and innovation because it creates a structure and a process for people to create both independently and collaboratively. However, 3P is not presented as a “one size fits all” means of creating brilliant new products that takes us from “blue sky” to product launch. It might work like that in some instances where a new product is a variation of an established product or in organizations where the same team is inventing, developing, and working together to launch a new product. With additional experience the role of 3P in the full product development will likely expand. For companies new to Lean 3P, the question might be how 3P will integrate into existing product development processes.

I highly recommend learning more about Lean 3P and the best place to start is with the podcast and/or eBook with Alan:

Podcast: Lean 3P is PDCA on Steroids, eBbook: Introduction to Lean 3P Design Process

I would follow up that with listening or reading the post with Ron Mascitelli, president of Technology Perspectives. Lean Design interview with Ron Mascitelli. Ron is the author of five books, his most-recent publication, Mastering Lean Product Development: A Practical, Event-Driven Process for Maximizing Speed, Profits, and Quality.

Podcast: Lean Design interview with Ron Mascitelli, eBook: Lean Design and Development

Before the podcast, I had been struggling on how, or even if I should use Stage Gates or Control Points in the Lean Service Design methodology. I questioned Ron about this. In an excerpt from the podcast, he explains how he has eliminated them.

Joe: That’s an interesting take on it, because it’s not necessarily a Kaizen event?

Ron: No. Other than the fact Kaizen events are a great example of how powerful this kind of intensive collaboration with a high focus can be. But it’s not a Kaizen event in the classical sense of being continuous improvement. It is an execution event, where you have, again, a standard preparation in advance. Everyone, within their role, comes to this very cross functional event with preparation, information, and in some cases completed work. When we get in the event, we follow an agenda of tools, discussion, and prioritization. Then ultimately, we have a standard output that determines the close of the event.

In fact, if we don’t close the event properly, if we don’t reach that outcome, we reconvene in a week or whenever we can, and we continue until we can reach that closure.

I think it’s a very powerful forcing function for timely decision making and for really getting all the voices together, looking at the same issues and problems, and answering the same question.

Joe: Do these happen at phase gates or control points of the process, then?

Ron: Actually, in my perfect vision of the world, the events become the phases and gates. Our market requirement event is a knowledge gate, so is our project planning event. The rapid learning cycle event, which is to burn down your early risk on a project, each of these, in a sense, are knowledge gates. So in my perfect word, we don’t use artificial governance gates like concept freeze gate and a detail design freeze gate or whatever they might be. We actually use these events as knowledge gates. But in most companies that already have a comfortable language of governance, we just embed the event at the appropriate phase and it will give you the outputs you need for your existing gate reviews.

Joe: So it’s really a way of distributing all the knowledge that needs and deciding on what knowledge you need to proceed with. Is that a simple explanation of it?

Ron: Perfect, perfectly well said. If you think about it, in product development all of the knowledge that is needed to create the best commercial product in the world resides in the heads of the cross?functional groups that you have in your company. It’s all in there somewhere. All they need is a problem to focus on and the ability to somehow pull all of that diverse cross?functional knowledge together in a way that’s optimal. So really that’s what we’re trying to get at here. Really, it’s forcing collaboration, not just names on a list, “Oh yeah, we’ve got a manufacturing person on the team. See here’s Joe, he’s listed down here on the list.”

It’s getting them in the room, break down the barriers to communication, have a common vision and a common set of tools they use so that we really do get that consensus input. Product development can’t be optimized without the contribution of virtually every function in the firm at one time or another.

Ron’s book is Mastering Lean Product Development

We have moved from stage gate thinking across the top of the page to Event style collaborative agreement on a regular basis. These process can even be done concurrently to speed up the process depending on available personnel. Ron, also advocates that you don’t change the tools you are accustomed to using. If you reflect on the discussions about Leader Standard Work, you will once again see the commonality of overlapping responsibility and the practice of arriving at agreement, a consensus of what is best practice. This can only be done through involvement at all levels of the organization. We will discuss this more in the Hoshin section later this month.

This is not about relinquishing control of the design process. It is about gaining more control over implementation. Collaboration does not insure the best answer gets enacted. It typically insures that something does get enacted. It takes away that paralysis from planning. No longer are we trying to gather buy-in to get something accomplished, but rather change is being driven from the bottom up with a sense of joint accountability. The best answer becomes the best implementable action. Eventually through continuous improvement a better answer will surface than was originally conceived.

Extra Material:

Chesbrough is to open innovation what Christensen is to innovation in general, and his concepts and ideas are spot on. Chesbrough is the executive director of the Haas Center for Open Innovation, rethinks the concept of open innovation to tackle a new economy.

In his new book, Open Services Innovation, Chesbrough offers the tools to apply service-focused innovation to avoid what he calls “the commodity trap.” Chesbrough explains,”Innovating in services is the escape route from the commodity trap and a solution for growth, giving firms a significant competitive advantage. As they innovate into the future, companies must think beyond their products and move outside their own four walls to innovate.”

 If you enjoy this, you may want to listen to the podcast I had with Lance Bettencourt, Service Innovation – Rethinking Customer Needs. Lance believes that true service innovation demands that you shift the focus away from the solution and back to the customer. To achieve this shift in your business–one that takes you from making educated guesses to building a clear model to guide service innovation—Lance Bettencourt instructs on the finer points of how to rethink your approach to the customer’s needs: how the customer defines value in a product or service. Lance’s book, Service Innovation: How to Go from Customer Needs to Breakthrough Services lays out a road map for developing a winning service strategy.

Should Learning Cycles Replace Stage Gates 0

The differences in Design between Lean and Six Sigma are not in the tools that they use but in the paths, they have chosen to take. The initial paths of each into the design fields were driven by the fact that most cost and problems to include quality and variability were designed into a product/service before it went into production or use. The need for early customer feedback became apparent and Voice of Customer (VOC) and Critical to Quality (CTQ) or Critical to Satisfaction (CTS) issues were recognized. However, to a large extent these processes were still internalized and only recently as a result of the Lean Software community has the customer become more and more part of the design process. This will be covered in more detail later this week.

The typical Design Processes of Six Sigma:

  1. DMAIC: Define – Measure – Analyze – Improve – Control (This is basically a 5-step version of PDCA)
  2. DFSS: Design for Six Sigma – A process that drove the statistical thinking aspect of Six Sigma into design.
    1. DMADV: Define – Measure – Analyze – Design – Verify (The most popular form of Six Sigma in Design)
    2. IDOV: Identify – Design – Optimize – Validate – (Another variation of DFSS)

Implementing this type of design resembles a funneling process characterized by a design process flow that is controlled by stage gates or tollgates. The tollgate is used to d measurable objectives that will allow a design to pass through the gate or to the next stage, or be held until the objectives are completed. Tollgate Reviews help determine whether all the goals within each stage have been achieved successfully and whether the design can progress to the next stage.

There are many other variations and one that I particular like for services is

  1. DCDV: Define – Characteristics – Design – Verify
    1. Define: Design the problem statement from the outside in starting with customers and markets and ending with the process. You continue cycling through the statement until it is defined.
    2. Characteristics: Segment customers designing a core set of needs and targets.
    3. Design: Start with a high-level definition of solutions and funneling to a solution through iteratively applying creativity and rigor.
    4. Verify: Prototype and eliminate the non-value, reducing risk and cost till the project is ready to roll-out. Knowing that field testing ultimately provides the results of stability and capabilities.

As you may notice just in the description of this process, it seems a little more iterative and as a result a little more “Leanish”. The world of software development and Agile and Scrum with the umbrella of Lean has exploded to take the design once thought of as a step by step method to one of iterations and collaborations.

One of the Lean leaders of the movement outside of software was Steelcase and several years ago I had the co-authors of Innovative Lean Development: How to Create, Implement and Maintain a Learning Culture Using Fast Learning Cycles on the podcast, Innovative Development. The transcription of the podcast can be found at Innovative Development eBook. Their single-point lessons start depicting the path between the stage gate process (calling them flow interrupters) and the more fluid concepts of Learning Cycles.

lean development

Single Point Lesson PDF


Marketing with PDCA (More Info): Targeting what your Customer Values at each part of the cycle will increase your ability to deliver quicker, more accurately and with better value than your competitor. It is a moving target and the principles of Lean and PDCA facilitates the journey to Customer Value.

Theory of Constraints

Michael Dalton Book: Simplifying Innovation: Doubling speed to market and new product profits – with your existing resources

Podcasts: Theory of Constraints in Innovation Customer Value Lens Alliances and Tools in Innovation

eBook: Utilizing the Theory of Constraints in Product Innovation Ebook

Using Lean Tools, Start at Gemba 0

The tools are always an important element of any process and Lean Product Development is not lacking in offering its share. Out of what may seem like 100 different tools, I think the most prevalent can be broken down to the following (I have excluded your traditional project management tools):

  1. Gemba Walks
  2. Mapping (Which we will cover next week)
  3. Quality Functional Deployment (QFD)
  1. Voice of Customer/Voice of Market
  2. Kano Model
  3. Pugh Matrix
  4. FMEA

And of course the ones I introduced in earlier discussions:

  1. 7 Quality Tools
  2. Seven Management Tools
  3. Design Think Tools

Gemba Walks

Way too often we operate in a vacuum and rely on Voice of Customer and Voice of Market Data to govern the services and markets we create. Steve Blank uses the term and encourages entrepreneurs “To get out of the Office” and in Lean Terms, Go to Gemba (Go See). These Gemba walks must be at the place of work where our product or service is being used.

What do you see in a Gemba Walk? It’s interesting because not one of us will see the same thing. As a result, I believe it is important that multiple people observe and document a procedure. We must then all come together and develop a current state of the job that is being done. In “Leanish” terms, the standard work that is being performed. This is the basis for framing the problem that we need to solve.

As Taiichi Ono says, Where there is no standard, there can be no kaizen (improvement). In both an improvement process (PDCA) or a design process (EDCA), we must come to an agreement about the work that needs to be done.

If you need a fresh perspective on how to apply your product or service take a walk. For starters, are you visiting the areas where your service interacts directly with the customer? Are you looking to identify new service delighters and make a lasting positive impression on customers?

Bob Petruska of Sustain Lean Consulting was my guest Business901 podcast, We want People to Go See for Themselves. In the podcast, we discussed his new book, Gemba Walks for Service Excellence: The Step-by-Step Guide for Identifying Service Delighters. The transcription can be read a What do you see in a Gemba Walk. An excerpt from the conversation.

Joe: One of the key things that jumps out at me in your discussion, you talked just briefly about innovation. Innovation really comes from that customer experience, doesn’t it?

Bob: Apple is really interesting as we learn more about it. There is a trial going on currently with Samsung. It’s peeling back the onion giving us new information and new insights on how Apple operates, their innovation process. They’re very team orientated. When you look at innovation in service, you can’t do it in a vacuum, which is the reason why the Gemba Walk can’t be done like the old undercover boss, where the CEO goes in disguise and incognito and tries to go behind the lines and work as an employee.

That’s not a Gemba Walk. Some of the principles are similar, but Gemba Walks are done out in the open. There’s one difference. The CEO is not necessarily involved in it.

We want people to go see for themselves and come up with something new and innovative and learn from someone else, see how that could be applied to their own industry.

For example, if you’re in the healthcare business, and you’re benchmarking another healthcare, you might benchmark the Mayo Clinic or whatever it is, but who’s benchmarking the hotel industry from the healthcare? What could you learn about the customer experience through the eyes of checking in at a hotel?

I think what’s really the key about the Gemba Walk is putting you in the shoes of being the customer, and you end up feeling like you are a customer. Would you enjoy the experience that you’ve created in that service design? That’s just a question for people. What can you do to design your service system to do a better job to delight customers?

Joe: If you’re a healthcare facility, maybe you need to take a Gemba Walk at the Ritz?

Bob: Exactly! If you think about it, they have a check?in a process, right? There’s also a check?in process at the hospital. When you go to the hospital, there’s that insurance. You’ve got to show them the insurance card; how many times is it, nine times or 10? OK, I’m just kind of jabbing them a little. How many times do you have to write down that you don’t smoke cigarettes? By the time you get down to the third floor, you’ve had to tell them you don’t smoke cigarettes 10 times by then. It’s just a question.

There’re so many opportunities to improve that experience. Being on time is another one. How long should it take to get through? How do you manage the customers’ expectations throughout the process? When you’re standing in a big, long line, the last thing, you want to do is think that you’re ignored, and that you have no earthly idea when it’s going to be your turn.

How Disney goes to Gemba to extend marketing for parks? They looked at how being on the ground with your consumer is the tiebreaker when it comes to “making it happen” in the current marketing climate. It’s likely you’re being pushed now to deliver more results in an exceedingly challenging marketplace. If you’re not engaging your audience directly with face-to-face marketing, you may be missing your biggest opportunity. – From Red7 Media on Vimeo.

Alex Ruiz, Promotions Manager of Disney Parks, and Steve Randazzo, President of Pro Motion Inc., examine Disney Parks’ highly successful “What Will You Celebrate?” tour campaign, as well as look at other efforts that enjoyed similar results

From the Website:

What they did: Personally distribute over 150,000 helium filled iconic Mickey Mouse balloons with golden invitations for people in 31 different markets across the country over the course of 30 weeks.

How they did it: The tour consisted of two teams with multiple vehicles, hundreds of Pro Motion hired brand ambassadors and hundreds of local-market volunteers fulfilling the program. Visits were structured as quick-hits. Preceded by pre-arrival awareness generated by in-market media partnerships, tour teams spent one-to-two days in each city delivering unique in-market celebration activities amidst a buzz of media coverage. They also showed up to celebrate special accomplishments at places such as the Race for the Cure in Chicago and, fresh on the heels of her son’s record-breaking Olympic triumph, at the middle school where Debbie Phelps principals.

When we think of all the different types of marketing that we do it is always about how can we make it seem real. The easiest answer to this so many times is simply go to Gemba. I have an old saying that even in this day of high technology seems to becoming more and more true: Business is still done with a handshake.


Wondering what QFD and House of Qaulity are? From ASQ…

Quality Functional Deployment (QFD) is a “method to transform user demands into design quality, to deploy the functions forming quality, and to deploy methods for achieving the design quality into subsystems and component parts, and ultimately to specific elements of the product/service process. Dr. Yoji Akao, who originally developed QFD in Japan in 1966, when the author combined his work in quality assurance and quality control points with function deployment used in value engineering.

Before starting with a QFD, process of understanding what the customer wants, how important these benefits are, and how well different providers of products that address these benefits are perceived to perform. Voice of Customer and Voice of Markets is a prerequisite to QFD because it is impossible to consistently provide products/Services which will attract customers unless you have a very good understanding of what they want.

House of Quality is a diagram, resembling a house, used for defining the relationship between customer desires and the firm/product capabilities. It is a part of the Quality Function Deployment (QFD) and it utilizes a planning matrix to relate what the customer wants to how a firm (that produces the products) is going to meet those wants. It looks like a House with a “correlation matrix” as its roof, customer wants versus product features as the main part, competitor evaluation as the porch etc. It is based on “the belief that products should be designed to reflect customers’ desires and tastes”. It also is reported to increase cross functional integration within organizations using it, especially between marketing, engineering and manufacturing.



The Most Important Part of Work 0

It is necessary for organizations to standardize and maintain a product development process. It is has been proven over and over again that by doing this will allow for more creative action to take place, not hinder it.

A quote from Plato: “The beginning is the most important part of the work.”

A project needs to be planned, controlled, and monitored from its inception to its completion. In fact, all projects use a methodology of processes, procedures and templates. If you don’t think you have one, it really means that you have a poor and informal one. Do not confuse scheduling software with project planning! If you need a project plan, there are three basic ways to go about it:

  1. Build one yourself. You can build a custom campaign that perfectly reflects the philosophy and best practices of your organization. Many companies try this.
  2. Buy one. You might be surprised to learn that your plan when finished ultimately looks similar to most others that people use. That is why many consultants can help without having the intimate knowledge of your industry. However, you may think that you spend as much time with the consultant as you would have doing it yourself. I know I have, I been on both sides!
  3. The hybrid option of purchasing a methodology and then customizing it to meet the specific needs of your organization. This gives you some of the benefits of option 1, while also taking less time, which is the major benefit of option 2. Many companies are choosing this option as a “Best of Both.” These pre-built methodologies can have many of your organization needs to be successful.

An existing methodology allows you to deliver an effective option practically immediately. I recommend the use of the hybrid option, which enables you to spend your time on the application versus building the plan to achieve the result. The simplicity of a single flexible model will create clarity for your staff and as a result better execution.

Using PDCA:

Starting with PDCA as an outline for your development process, may seem a little cumbersome to many. However, the approach is actually very similar to the The Lean Startup method that is seen as the latest and most current methodology for entrepreneurs. The Lean Startup is based on an approach that is called Build – Measure – Learn. At first glance this looks like like the cycle of PDCA without the planning. However, many have found that the Build – Measure – Learn struggled without a pre-planning stage or in fact started with Learn as the first step.

This is not a new phenomenon. I have 3 books that I have used for many years on Lean Product Development (listed at bottom of page) and one of them, Step-by-Step QFD taught me to use the PDCA process in design but start with the cycle of CAPD. Looking and Thinking correspond to Checking and Acting. This is our first step.

CAPD TreeParaphrased from the book:

The CAPD cycle can be used to identify the first-level tasks needed in design. The critical process for planning the design is contained in the branches of the tree (see below). Within the CAPD cycle, there are several tasks that must be completed. Each celment of CAPD must have at least one task. For instance, the Plan portion should include defining technology and concept requirements.

The CAPD cycle is used to identify the critical tasks for each of the major tasks in the critical process. These first-level tasks in the CAPD cycle require at least one second-level task. For example, there are five tasks for the first major task in the critical process:

  • C – Identify target market
  • C – Identify customer needs and expectations
  • A – Select performance measures
  • P – Design technical benchmarking
  • D – Evaluate competition

Depending upon the steps in the critical process, the critical tasks can be different. For more complex design processes, it may be necessary to use the CAPD cycle again to identify critical subtasks.

A PDF Version of the CAPD Tree.

Responsibilities must be assigned to the appropriate organizational functions. A responsibility matrix is useful for summarizing these responsibilities. The functional group which has the primary responsibility for a task determines when to move on to the next step in the critical process. The functional group which has secondary responsibility provides support to the group shouldering the primary responsibility. Job position or task description identifies who is responsible for which tasks. According to the developed critical process, an organization may need to acquire new responsibilities and to divide these among the functional units.

A product design process chart (project charter) should also be utilized to clearly define the team and the process. During product development, the design team needs many documents, such as market analyses, customer requirements and specifications. These documents arc normally regarded as reports within the design process. This process chart should provide the roadmap for managing your product. The more visual you make the process, the better. There is nothing wrong thinking of your process charter as a storyboard – something I encourage.

Recommended Books:
Step-by-Step QFD: Customer-Driven Product Design, Second Edition
Mastering Lean Product Development: A Practical, Event-Driven Process for Maximizing Speed, Profits, and Quality
Lean Product and Process Development

How Does Xerox use Lean (Six Sigma) for Design: E-Book: Design for Lean Six Sigma, The Xerox Way Podcast: Design for Lean Six Sigma, The Xerox Way

Additional Comment:

Making incremental steps allow you to measure results very easily and actually build a repeatable process that can be used over and over again. Though, we all recognize that no product launch is the same, having a template for your company will allow you to make the minor changes necessary for each launch and build upon what works well over time. An e-myth article discusses incremental release plan.

Strategic Work: One Step At a Time by Susan Weber

Rolling out Product Innovations : Updating, enhancing or otherwise changing your products or services can be scary, but when done correctly, product innovation can truly revolutionize your business. The important thing to remember is that you needn’t tackle everything at once. Strategic product innovation work can be done incrementally.

For example, when I was working for a large financial services company here in the United States, I worked on a key strategic initiative: the implementation of a new bank. This was a huge project and very important to the company. So how did we approach it? We decided that implementation of this bank, including the hefty technology pieces, should be broken down into monthly releases. This turned a seemingly overwhelming and complex project into a manageable and far less daunting assignment. This approach also helped to mitigate risk, because it was easier to assess impacts (and recover if necessary) with smaller changes.

In the end the bank was implemented on time and on budget. Although this approach requires more planning on the front-end, it greatly increases the chances of success. Plus, it’s much easier to measure and quantify the results of smaller changes.

Purchase the Lean Service Design Program!

Or, purchase the 130 page PDF for download, Lean Service Design

Prototypes provide a Pathway for Connecting with Customers 0

Prototyping is a way to introduce our products or services in a very disarming way. It is a way of saying, “I respect your opinion.” Creating that empathetic connection with others can have a profound impact on your company. We all prefer to buy services from people that we perceive to be experts in their field. The role of the expert has changed. It is no longer the expert with superior knowledge; it is the expert that shows knowledge in how the service/product is used. We have gone from a world of selling benefits and features to a world of listening and collaboration. That connection with a customer clarifies how the service is perceived, not how it may look to us.

Traditional sales approaches in the past center on improving customer experience through techniques that tries to manipulate the customer emotions. In the book Listening With Empathy , author John Selby says,

The new approach is participatory rather than manipulative – teaching you how to shift inwardly from negative to positive moods, and thus become genuinely friendly and helpful. Our Listening with Empathy method will enable you to move through the following four customer-encounter phases with high success:

Phase1 – Preparation: Before meeting with a customer or client, it’s vital to put aside any stress, worries, or judgments that may pollute the encounter – and shift your focus toward positive feelings and heart-centered emotions.

Phase 2 – The Moment of Encounter: Right when you meet someone, you need to present an honest, friendly, nonjudgmental greeting, and offer relaxed space. New techniques can help you maintain a bright inner center, emit a friendly presence, and converse with relaxed spontaneity, acceptance, and enjoyment.

Phase 3 – Empathic Communication: When you begin talking business, you need to maintain clear intent to be of service and to enable your customers to truly satisfy their needs. By encouraging an enjoyable emotion atmosphere, you can make sure your customers feel good hands and well taken care of.

Phase 4 – Processing: This fourth phase involves pausing after a meeting to reflect on a recent sales or service encounter and to decide purposefully how to follow up on it. You’ll learn to re-experience positive aspects of the encounter and focus on your desire to meet with the customer again.

Prototyping can be a powerful tool but only if you are willing listen and make that connection with your customers. The ability to reach outside of companies and connect with our customers develops a shared outlook of our markets and will allow us to develop new opportunities faster than our competitors. It is a simple fact that the companies that know their customers best are the market leaders. They understand what is important. The companies that don’t, market to the general public and as a result get average results. Our new products, our prototypes are shared experiences. Prototypes should serve as models not just for improved design but for improved connection with our customers.

P.S. The easiest form of engagement is listening. Well, maybe not the easiest.

Customer Interactivity is the Most Meaningful Part of Design

Prototypes are becoming a design deliverable with the advent of many sophisticated software applications spurred by Rapid Prototyping, 3D Modeling etc. However, the initial paper sketch is arguably the best tool, at least in the beginning. Prototyping helps us to design better user experiences. However, many of us still forget to include the user! We still dwell on what we can do versus looking at what the user does! Even at the paper stage of prototyping, I encourage you to try to articulate that feeling and function of the design into a model and put it in the hands of the user. Their interactivity is the most meaningful part of design. Do it early and do it often.

From adaptive path blog, Rapid Prototyping Tools:

Making Effective Prototypes

In order to evaluate a prototyping tool or technique, we first need to define what makes an effective prototype. The best prototypes are ones that slipstream right into our design process. We want the ability to quickly take sketches from a whiteboard to something interactive.

Effective prototypes are fast. We want to use techniques that allow for rapid iteration. A prototype should not just be bolted onto the end of a design process. Incorporating the creation of a prototype into your daily design work allows new ideas to emerge and validates concepts quickly.

Effective prototypes are disposable. Just like with any design deliverable, we are creating an artifact intended to express an idea to someone else (stakeholder, developer, user, etc). Once that design idea has been communicated, the prototype deliverable can be discarded. We don’t have to feel the burden of creating a masterpiece that will live on, and we certainly don’t have to work in production-level code.

Effective prototypes are focused. We want to select the interactions of our design that really need to be prototyped. Look for the parts of your design that have of complexity. Look for interaction patterns repeated throughout the user’s experience. Look for the interactions that bring revenue to your product. A prototype that demonstrates these interactions will be the best use of your time and energy.

There are few faster, cheaper and more effective tools than the pen and paper. It’s easy, you can use it anywhere and anytime and it is one of the most effective collaboration tools that exist. The best course I have ever taken since college and in fact, I might as well throw college into the mix was a sketching class. It taught me more about “How to See” or observe than any of my engineering, communication and even Lean and Six Sigma training. Another added benefit, actually the original intent, was to relinquish any fear that I had in picking up a pencil and sketching. Admittedly, I never became a proficient artist in those 8 weeks but it was my first stepping stone to sketching. I later increased my ability with cartooning, particularly Looney Tune characters. It was a great tool and I encourage anyone to spend time developing these skills including the Looney Tune group. .

As Service Design, Design Thinking, Open Innovation and Co-creation continue become more prevalent, prototyping is becoming more applicable to any industry or even professional service firm. The most obvious is of course on the web with many Beta or Free-trial type applications. The typical first step outside of the idea is putting it on paper. That in itself can be a daunting task for many. I ran across this Slideshare presentation that I found to be a great introduction on how to start out the process by using these 3 simple steps, which I have paraphrased:

  1. See – Ask: What are you thinking
  2. Sort – Ask: What it means
  3. Sketch – Ask: Why does it matter

If you can translate your idea to paper using this outline, you have built your first prototype.

Kate also included the workbook she handed out with this presentation.

Getting through this first step can be very difficult. The first person that will critique this will be you. That fear of failure or unwillingness to seek input because your waiting for a more finished product or even idea can be significantly minimized by using this process. See, Sort and Sketch provides a simple orderly process that is easily communicated to others. And by involving others (CUSTOMERS) early in the process, it allows for more collaboration throughout the process.

At some point and time, you have to turn your idea into a reality. It is the best way to get feedback.Most of us are bias about our idea and even in the way we perceive and interpret the data. This is why having a structured approach to prototyping is imperative. Without one, we typically see what we want to see. As a result, we gain confirmation versus additional knowledge.

You must be very open to feedback at this stage. You must welcome complaints and criticisms from others. If you take an honest and positive approach in gaining feedback from others, you will have increased your odds of success and gain the valuable information needed.

The instinctive type approach is surprisingly rather closed to alternatives. As a result the outcome is frequently flawed or less effective than a structured approach. In The Thinker’s Toolkit: 14 Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving book outlines six steps of the problem with intuitive problem solving:

  • We commonly begin our analysis of a problem by formulating our conclusions; we thus start at what should be the end of the analytic process.
  • Our analysis usually focuses on the solution which we intuitively favor; we therefore give inadequate attention to alternative solutions.
  • The solution we intuitively favor is more often than not the first one that seems satisfactory.
  • We tend to confuse “discussing/thinking hard” about a problem with “analyzing” it (these2 activities are not at all the same).
  • We focus on the substance (evidence, arguments, and conclusions) and not on the process of our analysts.
  • Most people are functionally illiterate when it comes to structuring their analysis.

If people have not learned and understood problem solving techniques, they cannot formulate a reasonable conclusion. It is a guess and a reaction based simply on intuition. Building the prototype is the easy part. Breaking them, testing them and learning from them is the important part. In a recent read, Prototyping: A Practitioner’s Guide, I found author Todd Zaki Warfel description of the process outstanding. Though the book may lend itself more to the UI/UX/IX and other software designers, I found the book fascinating and so grounded in foundational principles that I would recommend it for anyone. The reporting process I recommend for most prototyping is using a basic A3 for structure. This way you outline your process in a clear and concise manner.

In the book Innovation Acceleration: Transforming Organizational Thinking, the authors use the term “project pillars” as a way of clarifying your vision. Their example was the “project pillars” for the Palm Pilot.

  • Fits in pocket.
  • Synchronizes seamlessly with PC
  • Fast and easy to use
  • Costs no more than $299

The authors go on to say:

The company was able to build the world’s first successful personal digital assistant. Meeting those constraints required a lot of trial and error, but it provided targets to focus the team’s creative energies. Once you have nailed the general design concept, this approach leads to more innovative outcomes rather than meandering aimlessly from one idea to another. This is a tricky position because you have to balance direct with an open mind.

They outline a design thinking process in the book that I believe can be utilized in designing your prototype. I paraphrase their material and combined with my own into a format for prototypes:

Keep good records – Archive everything. I use to use a box in my room for different design projects. I would tear out magazine articles, copies of book pages, pictures, sketches. I have since narrowed that down and store most of my files electronically that also includes audio and video recordings, links to other material and so forth.

Constantly generate and refine ideas based on customer’s perspective – This is not problem solving. It is one of the reasons that I discuss the Marketing Gateway of EDCA > PDCA>SDCA. It is also why getting a prototype out in front of customer early – even in the pen and paper stage is so important. What we think are great ideas, may not be so great. If you are going to be radical as Clayton Christensen says, “Consider your customers’ deepest values and interest rather than their purchasing behavior”.

Visualization, Mock-ups, Models – This is the most effective way of advancing an idea into reality. This is the heart of your prototype. Remember that verbal communication is often misunderstood. A better way to communicate your idea is to express it in some type of visual form. It can be done through rehearsing, sketches, interviews, skits and many other techniques. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. If a picture is worth a thousand words, an actual physical representation is worth a million words. If you want to get great feedback on your idea, build a prototype. Nothing gets your idea across better than something people can participate in providing questions and feedback. One of the reasons managers struggle with this guideline is that they fear not delivering a finished and polished product/service, but this is not necessarily true.

When you see interaction in prototype, you’ll know you’re on the right path. One of my favorite stories and coincidentally again about the Palm Pilot was that the inventor went into a “Shark Tank” (not the TV show or a literal definition) and was completely ill-prepared. Looking around for something to engage his audience, he tossed a wallet in the middle of the table and said it would look something like this. Moments later, he saw them starting to look at the wallet and knew the deal was done when they started passing the wallet around the table.

Get Feedback and Involvement from a variety of People – Search for feedback from a diverse group of potential customers, suppliers, fellow managers, employees, and content experts. You may get a lot of suggestions, but only a few might be useful (that’s okay; it is a journey). You never know when someone will give you an unexpected insight that would have been overlooked had you not searched out a lot of the opinion of others. The key point is to build something you can receive feedback on and return to rebuild as soon as possible. Moreover, with available technologies today, it’s getting easier to make prototypes. But don’t stop there. What about an interactive play? What would a sales presentation look like as a prototype? You could invite customers and maybe even local actors and directors of local theaters. This is play time, use it and get the most out of it from as many people as possible.

Prototyping is meant to be an iterative process. But this is a new practice for most people and organizations. Most people within organizations are implementing orders and maintaining the way a company operates. So how do create this type of thinking and bring it into reality in everyday work? More importantly, how do you learn to experiment? This is why it is so important to have developed the SDCA and PDCA frameworks within an organization before venturing into EDCA. Without this existing culture, (that little i again) the big I of innovation is seldom successful.

The best way to learn how to prototype is to try to act out a service encounter at your location. Use people from your own organization to create the atmosphere of a rehearsal. Ask for volunteers from a local college theatrical program to play a few parts. The process itself is very easy. The asking is the hard part.

From the book This is Service Design Thinking the authors state this perspective on Service Prototypes:


What is it? A service prototype is a simulation of a service experience. These simulations can range from being informal “roleplay” style conversations, to more detailed full scale recreations involving active user-participation props, and physical touch points.

How is it made? Usually some form of mock-up of the service system will be created. The prototype can vary greatly in terms of tone and complexity, but the common element will be the capacity to test the service solutions being proposed in something approaching a “real-world” environment. The prototype will generally he developed iteratively, with suggestions and refinements being constantly incorporated.

Why is it used? Service prototypes can generate a far deeper understanding of a service than is possible with written or visual descriptions. The principle of “learning by doing” is prevalent throughout, with the focus on user experience meaning the prototype can also generate tangible evidence on which solutions can be founded. Prototypes also help iterate design solutions, as they can quickly incorporate and test the ideas and refinements they may provoke.

Service Staging

What is it? Service staging is the physical acting out of scenarios and prototypes by design teams, staff, or even customers in a situation that resembles a theater rehearsal. Those participating will usually act out an encounter that one of the team has experienced, or explore a prototype situation.

How is it done? When using service staging it is crucial to create a playful “safe space” environment to ensure that participants are comfortable and open enough to become fully involved with the exercise. After a story boarding phase to record real experiences or develop new prototypes, people take on roles – such as customer or staff member – and act out the situation in an iterative cycle, moving from the starting story board to a new design. Group methods like “forum theater” are used for idea generation and to keep everyone involved. Alternatively, one person may serve as the director” making suggestions to solve the problems that are revealed.

Why is it used? Service staging brings kinesthetic learning and emotion into the design process. It allows people to focus on the minute of subtext and body language, both of which are crucial to understanding the real-world situations in which a service is delivered. Playing different characters in a reality-based scenario allows designers to empathize with the personas on which they are based.

Do you need to prototype each of the three user story scenarios that we have saved? Only customers provide results and customer satisfaction is the key result you are looking for. I think the smartest companies ask their customers what the requirements should be for the product or service and then work backwards? This is what we have done up to this point. The not so smart, designs a service and then figures out ways to market and sell it. We have a tendency to start internalizing the process once we get to the idea stage. Now is the time we must include our customers more than ever. Afraid that it is not complete enough? The more complete the project the less feedback you will receive. The idea is to generate ideas, feedback. It is not meant for validation of the service.

“Prototypes are a way of thinking out loud. You want the right people thinking out loud with you.” – Paul MacCready

Try prototyping your 3 ideas and at this point reflecting on only these 4 questions:

  1. What worked?
  2. What could be improved?
  3. What additional questions were raised?
  4. What new ideas did it generate?

Recommended Reading/Listening

A Service Design Thinking Primer



A Product Marketers perspective on Prototyping


Simulating Lean Supply Chain Thinking



Lean Simulations and Training Tips