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Lean Product Development: Talent Development

Top products are the creation of top designers and developers. Lean Product Development helps in developing expert designers and developers, who are excellent problem solvers and are adept at creating innovative solutions.  Developing Key Talent for Product Management accelerates Innovation and time to market while lowering costs.

Managers responsible for developing creative products and solutions need to take 5 key steps, in order to facilitate Learning and Development of Key Talent in the manufacturing sector:

  1. Incorporate Technical Excellence into the Organization DNA
  2. Create and Implement Design Standards
  3. Hold Regular Technical Design Reviews
  4. Evaluate Organization’s Product Development Process
  5. Revisit Organizational Leadership Culture to Focus on Learning

Let’s dive deeper into the steps to effective Talent Management.

STEP-1 Incorporate Technical Excellence into the Organizational DNA

Technical mastery needs to be at the heart of everyday work practices and the guiding principle for manufacturing concerns.  Incentives, recognition, and rewards should be created based on technical competence, and it should be incorporated into routine business practices.  Likewise, training programs need to be geared towards enhancing the engineers’ technical capabilities.

For instance, technical competence is an integral element of training new engineers at Toyota.  One of the main requirements for qualifying for an engineering leadership position at the company is mentoring of young engineers.  Similarly, Ford Motor Co. has a technical maturity model in place for each department in the engineering function.  The giant automaker reinforces this when creating roles and responsibilities, conducting design reviews, and remunerating its engineers.  These measures help curb attrition and motivate people to stay longer.

STEP-2 Create and Implement Design Standards

The next step is to develop design standards and execute them.  Design standards should be set in place and implemented by using the existing organizational knowledge.  Design leaders should hold regular sessions with developers on a smart board and solicit their views on the layout of a certain system and training an apprentice in design principles.  These design guiding principles should be compiled into user-friendly handbooks for future design and development programs.  Lessons learnt from each project should be incorporated into the design standards with regular updates to the handbooks.

Toyota reserves 10-15 days out of the development project time period for the development team to ponder over the lessons learned from an ongoing project.  The development team incorporates these lessons into the design standards and updates the design manuals with these newer experiences.

STEP-3 Hold Regular Technical Design Reviews

The 3rd step involves holding frequent technical design reviews to nurture people via action learning and collaboration. The product design and development units should organize weekly technical design assessments.  The assessments need to be conducted at the design and development facilities—factory premises, test lab, or prototype shop—instead of a conference room.  This helps in gaining practical knowledge and skills.  Regular assessments assist in developing design and engineering teams through on-the-job experiences and cross-unit cooperation.

Interested in learning more about the other steps to facilitate Learning and Development of Key Talent in the manufacturing sector?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Lean Product Development: Talent Development here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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