Don Reinertsen was my guest on the Business901 Podcast this week for a discussion on Creating Flow. Don is president of Reinertsen & Associates, a consulting firm specializing in improving the product development process. I have followed Don’s writing for many years and recognize him as THE leading expert in the field of Flow. His writings are insightful, packed full of information and readable. When editing the podcast, I could not bring myself to cut hardly a word out of it. Even at the end, I included one more of his analogies about the use of tools. There will not be a written version of this podcast so I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity.
Don’s contributions in the field of product development are recognized internationally. In 1983, while a consultant at McKinsey & Co., he wrote the landmark article in Electronic Business magazine that first quantified the value of development speed. This article is believed by some observers to have triggered the movement to shorten development cycles in American industry. It is frequently cited as the McKinsey study that reported “six months delay can be worth 33 percent of life-cycle profits”. Don is well known for developing methods to quantify and manage difficult trade-offs between cost, schedule, and technical performance.
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Don is also responsible for coining the term “Fuzzy Front End” to describe the critical early stage of product development and for the first practical application of queueing theory to development process design in 1991. He is known for developing innovative, but practical, analytical techniques for assessing the product development process. For 25 years he has focused on creating fundamental changes in the way organizations develop products. His 1997 book, Managing the Design Factory , was the first book to describe how the principles of Just-in-Time manufacturing could be applied to product development. In the past 12 years this approach has become known as Lean Product Development.
Don speaks internationally on Lean Product Development. For the last 15 years he has taught executive courses at California Institute of Technology. For the last 6 years he has been teaching a popular course with the Management Roundtable, called Achieving Lean Product Development. His 2009 book, The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development , has been praised as, “… quite simply the most advanced product development book you can buy.”
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