Lean is a proven methodology for streamlining processes, reducing waste and improving efficiency in various industries. When applied to product development and management, it can shorten the time it takes to develop and launch a new feature — typically measured by the metric “time-to-market” (TTM). But how is it actually put into practice? In this blog post, I’ll outline a number of different Lean techniques that can help reduce TTM and accelerate your ability to deliver value.
Why is TTM important for your business?
TTM is important for several reasons:
It can help businesses gain a competitive advantage. In today's fast-paced business environment, being first to market with a new service, product or feature will give your organization a competitive advantage.
It can drive revenue. Reducing TTM means your organization will start generating revenue sooner. In terms of product development, every new feature introduced should either generate revenue or result in cost savings, thereby positively impacting the bottom line.
It can increase user satisfaction. A shorter TTM means users will start using a feature solution sooner. This should improve their overall experience with the product and your organization.
It enables greater agility and adaptability. Rapidly launching new products and features can help an organization become more responsive to user demands and market trends.
It can encourage innovation. A shorter TTM allows your organization to bring new and innovative ideas to market at a faster pace.
Overall, reducing TTM is a critical aspect of product development that can significantly impact your organization's success and competitiveness in the marketplace.
What is Lean?
Lean is a methodology and approach to management that originated in the manufacturing industry in the mid-20th century, specifically at Toyota in Japan. In the decades since, it has been adopted in a variety of industries all over the world. Lean is focused on delivering products or services to customers as efficiently and effectively as possible while reducing inefficiencies in the process.
The principles of Lean include:
The elimination of waste. Lean aims to identify and eliminate waste in processes, such as overproduction, waiting, unnecessary motion, defects, overprocessing, unused talent and excess inventory.
Continuous improvement. Lean follows a kaizen philosophy, which emphasizes a continuous improvement approach, always seeking to make processes more efficient and effective.
Customer focus. Lean places a strong emphasis on understanding and satisfying the customer needs, as customers are the centerpiece of any business.
Empowering employees. Lean empowers employees at all levels of the organization to identify and solve problems, as they are closest to the processes and customers.
Collaboration. Lean encourages collaboration and cross-functional teamwork, as it recognizes that great solutions come from multiple perspectives.
Overall, Lean is a process-focused approach that helps organizations achieve their goals by maximizing value and minimizing waste in all aspects of their operations.
Lean principles and TTM
Organizations can reduce TTM by applying Lean principles, which involve streamlining processes, eliminating waste and improving efficiency. By doing so, the product development process becomes more effective and efficient, enabling organizations to deliver value to their customers faster and more often.
Lean helps organizations identify and eliminate any sources of waste in the product development process, such as activities that are not adding value, excess backlog items, overproduction, delays, defects, overprocessing, unnecessary motion or unused talent. By eliminating waste, organizations reduce TTM and improve efficiency.
Lean helps organizations continuously improve their development processes and make them more efficient. This includes using better tools and technology, improving workflows, team alignment and collaboration. Enhancing efficiency should lead to faster TTM and a greater frequency of product releases.
Lean tools and techniques for reducing TTM
Here are five essential Lean tools and techniques that can help organizations reduce lead time, eliminate waste, increase customer focus, foster continuous improvement, empower employees and promote collaboration:
VSM (Value Stream Mapping): a visual representation of the entire process from start to finish, allowing organizations to identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement. Read the step by step for facilitating a VSM session.
Lean Inception: a collaborative workshop that helps organizations bring new products to market faster by allowing them to validate ideas, prioritize features, and iterate quickly. Read more about Lean Inception in this article: Lean Inception: Learn How to Align People and Build the Right Product
Kaizen Events: focused improvement events to identify and eliminate waste in a specific process. These events can lead to significant improvements in a short amount of time, increasing team collaboration and process efficiency. Plan your next Kaizen event with some FunRetrospectives.com activities.
Kanban: a visual management system that helps organizations manage the flow of work and reduces lead time by limiting the work in progress. (You can find out more in a post I wrote elsewhere: What is Kanban?)
MVP (Minimum Viable Product): the minimum set of features that will allow the product to be tested and validated with real customers. By delivering the minimum viable product, it is possible to bring the product to market faster, minimize the expense of time and resources, and evolve the product based on the actual feedback from its users. Read more about MVP in this article: MVP: how to build the Minimum Viable Product
These are just a few of the Lean tools and techniques that organizations can use to reduce TTM. By applying these techniques, organizations can improve efficiency, eliminate waste and reduce lead time, delivering value to customers faster and more often.
Embrace the essence of Lean, focus on reducing TTM. Empower your success!
Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.