Accelerated Product Development

Accelerated Product Development

The KAIZEN™ way of Management led to the enhancement of Operational & Strategic efficiencies and enabled organizations to be more competitive in the marketplace. However, another major challenge faced is that of Growth.

Organizations need to meet ever-changing customer demands with New Products & Services to delight Customers. Launch of new products & Services has to be - ON SCOPE, ON BUDGET & ON TIME – with shorter Time to Market, to enhance competitiveness.

Accelerated Product Development is a strategy that compresses the development throughput time of new products from concept to launch. This approach strives to identify and eliminate wastes in the entire product development process, rather than follow the traditional approach of reducing cycle times of a few individual steps of the process.

It is useful here to recollect the Fundamental Principles of KAIZEN™  Management:

  1. Creating Customer Value
  2. Enhancing Flow Efficiency by recognising and eliminating Wastes
  3. Improving Gemba (Workplace) effectiveness
  4. People Engagement &
  5. Visual Management to enhance transparency & communication

Accelerated Product Development methodology draws on all these fundamental principles for its’ effectiveness & impact.

New Product development can be broadly considered to go through various phases viz. 

A. Ideation phase, 

B. Design phase, 

C. Execution or Construction phase, 

D. Start-up phase; & 

E. Closing phase.

Broadly, all the tasks carried out can be grouped as - Knowledge Flow and Product Flow streams.

This article covers Phase C above.

Projects can be considered as temporary production systems. It’s necessary to structure the systems in a way that apart from delivering products with maximum value, all types of wastes are also minimized. Then, they would qualify as ‘lean’ projects. 

Project Value Stream involves

Organizing and Visualizing the Value Stream

Developing a Breakthrough Vision for the Value Stream

Learning to see 3 Mu´s: muda, Mura, Muri

Visualizing team’s time losses (OPE: Overall People Effectiveness)

to meet the goals of On Scope, On Budget and On Time. (OS OB OT).

Kaizen Institute has developed a step by step approach for meeting the goals of OB OS OT.  The 4 Steps are 1. Project Initiation 2. Project Design 3. Last Planner and 4 Obeya Control.

Step 1: Project Initiation 

(Can We Do It Stage)  

Preparation of a well-defined  A3  document covering - Project Vision, Product breakdown structure, Work breakdown structure, Resources requirement & all the essential Main Tasks. Clear objectives, deliverables and milestones for each of the Project Phase are included.

The document is well articulated by all the stakeholders of the organization & signed off for implementation, ensuring commitment of one and all. 

Step 2: Project Design 

(We Want to Do It Stage) :  

o It is an iterative and incremental phase plan, incorporating periodic Decision Review points

o It is a collaborative Decision Pull Planner

o It is also a  map showing the decision flow required to design and develop a solution. 

This is designed to eliminate waste and reworks due to delayed decisions/ wrong decisions, & to avoid no-decisions, that are common during the execution of a project.

The difference between a Project Design Map and Gantt Chart is as follows:

Since Design and Development tasks are exploratory by nature, progress is made by iteration with many hand-offs. If decision points are not clear and decisions are not taken on time, a lot of rework appears in all the phases of a project.

Every surprise from our learning and experimentation can cause significant changes to a Gantt chart full of tasks.

On the other hand, a Decision Flow Map is stable and rarely changes! It is the backbone of the Project. The Decision Flow Map is the best sequence to minimize risks.

Benefits of Good Project Design

Forms the project backbone, and speeds up the necessary iterations;

Eliminates un-necessary tasks and project management waste; 

Brings multi-disciplinary teams together;

Breaks down barriers and eliminates ‘over-the-fence’ syndrome;

Eliminates waste of rework and unsuitable solutions;

Creates flow in project work.

Step 3:  Pull Planner (6 Weeks), Last Planner (1 week) & Daily Planner 

(We Should do it & We are Doing it Stage) 

This is a methodology to optimize the medium-term task plans with Make-Ready checklists.

Pull Planner with time buffer and Lead Time optimization

Cuts estimated task times (by eliminating over-estimation);

Simplifies processes and compresses Lead Time of most important tasks;

Creates buffers at strategic points;

Implements a project buffer at the end of Critical Path;

Controls consumption of feeding and project buffers;

Ensures adherence to planned dates.

Look-ahead Planner & 6 Weeks rolling planner foresees constraints and helps to prepare constraints elimination plan for timely actions to mitigate them.


Pull Planner creates and aligns an optimized production/ task sequence

Six-week Last Planner (6W LP) enables tasks reviews 6 weeks earlier so they can be done without delays

One-week Last Planner (1W LP) enables commitment to perform tasks by all the team members for next week/ day

Pull planner with the Last Planner creates a flow of people, information, equipment & materials.

Benefits accrued: 

1. Time-to-Market: Project Lead Time reduction of 20 – 50%

2. On-time Delivery: up to 95% 

3. The right information at all times: about project status, dependencies, performance and deliverables

4. Better planning: Fewer changes and realistic resources planning

Step 4: Obeya Control

Obeya Room: is the workplace for project control (also known as Mission Control Center)

Various tables, graphs & pictures allow us to track the entire project in a visual and quick With Visible Planning:

1. All in one place;

2. Regular and periodic updates;

3. The appropriate level of detail;

4. Only Relevant Information.

5. The 6W/ 1W planning meeting is done in the Obeya Room;

6. The 2 Planning Metrics are evaluated every week:

Buffer consumption;

% plan completion

7. Problem Solving process is followed every week to improve the two metrics.

Accelerated Product Development uses Lean Project Management, which is a proven methodology. It helps to achieve project goals – ON SCOPE, ON TIME and ON BUDGET.


Vishwanathan Ramamurthy, Senior Consultant at Kaizen Institute

About Kaizen Institute

Kaizen Institute is the original and premier provider of KAIZEN™ services of Change Management, Business Excellence, Operational Excellence and Lean.

We support companies of all sizes in all market segments, providing them with a sustainable, competitive advantage. Our Vision is Improving the world with Everyone, Everywhere, Every Day – The KAIZEN™ Way. “KAIZEN™ means Change for the better.”

Kaizen Institute is a global organization which provides consulting and training services to companies represented in Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. We are currently operating in 60+ Countries for 35 years.

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