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Pipeline, Process, and Practice for Product Managers
This is the Product Mastery Now podcast. For seven years it was called The Everyday Innovator™, but I recently changed the name to better reflect our mission, which is to help you become a Product Master, creating products customers love.
A common question I am asked is, How can an organization speed up its product development? One way is what our guest is sharing with us today, the 3 Ps of Lean Product Development—Pipeline, Practice, and Process. His name is Steve Stucky, and he has over 25 years of experience applying lean product development.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[1:20] What is Lean Product Development?
Lean Product Development is about putting in place the best processes to make better products faster. It’s about eliminating waste in processes, making teams more effective, and aligning the organization.
[2:56] Why are organizations incorporating Lean Product Development?
Lean Product Development gets products that meet all the customer needs out the door quicker, without having to work harder. Lean Product Development helps developers spend more time on value-added work instead of wasteful work.
[5:18] How can an organization use Lean Product Development?
Lean Product Development is a holistic approach to improving product development, looking at:
- Pipeline—communicating priorities and aligning the organization so it isn’t overloaded
- Process—the lean product development process itself
- Practice—how the team works together
The Pipeline allows leadership to communicate a ranked list of priorities. The top projects are the focus, and when we run out of resources, the lower priority projects are placed on hold. Top projects get the maximum effort and get done sooner. The Pipeline includes the optimal number of projects for people to be most effective and spend more time doing value-added work—usually two or three projects.
Process focuses on improving two main areas of the new product development process itself. First, find the waste, wait time, and bottlenecks in the process. Second, make sure development teams have the flexibility to reduce the number of deliverables on their plate to manage the work that’s important for the teams. A Kaizen approach finds bottlenecks and looks at the wait time versus the actual work time. Identify and remove bottlenecks and speed everything up.
Several best practices can help improve the speed and effectiveness of project teams. One is using Agile with Scrum, taking the best of both practices. Teams meet frequently and communicate, and the vision and work are visualized using Scrum.
Facilitated acceleration events are also impactful. A Market Requirements Event prioritizes product requirements in one to three days, rather than the months this process usually takes. The Market Requirements Event involves customer-facing people like sales and marketing, and it’s led by product management with developers and engineers present. You discuss customer needs and competitive threats and identify the key features customers will value in a product. You categorize and prioritize to develop products with maximum differentiation and value, and you align the group around the important requirements.
Another event is PARM (Project And Risk Mitigation). This is an 8-hour event in which the team builds a project schedule, compresses it, comes back with a date they feel they can meet confidently, and then identifies risks and prioritizes the highest risks for mitigation.
Rapid Learning Cycles are another great risk reduction opportunity. The team identifies unknowns and focuses on key decisions the team should make and the knowledge gaps they need to close to make those decisions. Rapid Learning Cycles can also be used for putting together a project. In a two- to four-week cycle, you start with a hypothesis and learn more to expose assumptions and help you make the right decisions.
Action Guide: Put the information Steve shared into action now. Click here to download the Action Guide.
- Connect with Steve on LinkedIn
- Learn more about Steve’s Lean Program Consulting
- Ron Mascitelli’s Mastering Lean Product Development
- Norbert Majerus’s Lean-Driven Innovation
- Katherine Radika’s High Velocity Innovation
- Eric Reis’ Lean Startup
“You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” - Anonymous
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.