blue banner logo
Innovative Solutions ________ March 2006
In this issue
-- Feature Article:Two Requirements for “Lean Product Development”
-- Engineering Tip:
-- On a Personal Note:
-- On The Lighter Side:
-- Article Policy

Welcome to the March 2006 edition of Innovative Solutions, the monthly newsletter from Innovative Thermal Solutions. If you find this information interesting or useful, please share it with your friends and colleagues.

Word count approx. 850
Reading time approx. 4 minutes.

Feature Article:Two Requirements for “Lean Product Development”
I was discussing Lean Product Development with a potential client recently. He told me “we have Lean Product Development, all our engineers are overloaded”. I tried to explain that being shorthanded does not mean they were practicing Lean Product Development. In fact, if everyone is overloaded most of the time, that is a pretty good indicator that they were not a Lean Enterprise. That conversation got me to wondering how many managers and business leaders think they are forcing their company to be “lean” by cutting back on people when in reality they are just forcing overload and in the process hurting productivity. I think the basic requirements for Lean Product Development are really quite simple – simple but not easy!

Requirement 1 – Align all project activity to business strategy.
Requirement 2 – Minimize waste and non-value added effort in everything you do.
Or in other words,
Requirement 1 – Make sure you are doing the right things.
Requirement 2 – Make sure you are doing things right.

In my many years of experience in engineering management the first requirement is the most difficult. I have seen too many companies that simply don’t have a good business strategy; one that is well thought out, clearly articulated and widely communicated throughout the company. If you don’t have a strategy, or everyone in the company doesn’t know what the strategy is, how can people make decisions? How does anyone know which projects to work on, which projects have priority and most importantly which projects not to work on? In far too many companies, in far too many cases the squeaky wheel gets attention, which leads to too many projects. Too many projects in the pipeline cause severe multitasking, which research shows absolutely kills project productivity. It is vitally important that the really important projects get all the resources they deserve and that the lesser projects are killed. After all, if a project isn’t vital to supporting the business strategy, why work on it? There are lots of tools to help align the project pipeline. But the most important part is to create the opportunity for decision making to insure that the entire organization is aligned and supportive.

Much has been written about the second requirement - minimize waste. There is a very large selection of tools and methodology available to help accomplish the second requirement. Six Sigma, Design for Six Sigma, Project Management, Risk Management, 5S, Constraint Management, the list goes on. They are all good tools. Properly selected and properly applied, they can work wonders for most businesses.

Please remember, “overloaded” is not “Lean”. Engineering productivity and Lean Product Development are favorite topics of mine. If you have any questions, or would like to discuss this area more, please give me a call.

Engineering Tip:
I ran across an interesting engineering site on the web. This site has a downloadable desktop unit conversion tool. Check it out, it’s free. Lytron Desktop Unit Conversion Tool

On a Personal Note:
Yesterday was officially the first day of spring. With the temperature in the 30s, it doesn’t seem very spring like. We have been having some nice, clear, sunny days and I can’t help but notice how much longer the days are getting. I am confident that real spring as opposed to calendar spring is just around the corner. I finished pruning the vineyard this past weekend. It was kind of painful to trim off much of last year’s growth. I kept telling myself that the vines and I will both be better off once they have healthy, straight stalks and are properly trained to the trellis. But still, I hated to cut off so much. I’ve been taking inventory and ordering the planting supplies I need for this year. We are going to more than double the size of the vineyard with this year’s planned planting. That is if all my helpers stick with me. Linda has been doing a great job adding content to the Flying Otter Website. Check it out sometime.

On The Lighter Side:

(A) The number of physicians in the U.S. is 700,000.

(B) Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year are 120,000.

(C) Accidental deaths per physician are 0.171.

Statistics courtesy of U.S. Dept. of Health Human Services.


Now think about this:


(A) The number of gun owners in the U. S is 80,000,000. (Yes, that's 80 million.)

(B) The number of accidental gun deaths per year, all age groups, is 1,500.

(C) The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is 0.0000188.

Statistics courtesy of FBI

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> >>>>>>>> >>>>>>>>>>>>>

So, statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.

Please alert your friends to this alarming threat.

Out of concern for the public at large, I have withheld the statistics on lawyers for fear the shock would cause people to panic and seek medical attention.

Article Policy
© 2006 Innovative Thermal Solutions. All Rights Reserved. You are free to use material from the Innovative Solutions newsletter in whole or in part, as long as you include complete attribution, including live web site link. Please also notify me where the material will appear.

The attribution should read: "By Bob Utter of Innovative Thermal Solutions. Please visit Bob's web site at for additional articles and resources on engineering services and new product development." (Make sure the link is live if placed in an eZine or in a web site.)

Previous Innovative Solutions Newsletters and Articles

Contact Information