The Principles of Product development Flow: Book Review

Book review: The Principles of Product Development Flow

Chapter 1. The Principles of Flow

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

The author has written this book to show that the dominant model for managing product development is wrong to the core.

We often focus on underutilized capacity, but at the same time, are ignorant about fully utilized capacity causing queues. Because queues are often not visible in product development, it leads to larger queues and therefore long lead time.

Another example of the dominant model being wrong is that people believe in the importance of variability reduction to increase profitability.  However innovation comes from variability, and is crucial for product development.

The author briefly diagnosed the present problems from the current model as below:

Failure to correctly quantify economics, blindness to queues, worship of efficiency, hostility to variability, worship of conformance, institutionalization of large batch sizes, underutilization of cadence, managing timelines instead of queues, absence of WIP constraints, inflexibility, non economic flow control and centralized control.

These current beliefs are challenged later in the book while he introduces new approach as possible solutions. Chapter by chapter he helps people understand the new approach in eight major themes.

This new model emphasizes small batch, fast feedback, limited WIP inventory and most importantly, achieving flo
w.  Thus it is called Flow-Based Product Development to differentiate from the lean manufacturing approach.

The eight chapters explore these new themes as the core of Flow-based Product Development:  economics, queues, variability, batch size, WIP constraints, cadence, synchronization, and flow control, fast feedback and decentralized control.

I’ll summarize these chapters in later blogs.

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