Friday, November 04, 2005

Title: Lean Strategies for Product Development
Sub-Title: Achieving Breakthrough Performance in Bringing Products to Market
Author: Clifford Fiore
Publisher: ASQ Quality Press ( and
Publisher's Catalog No: H1205
ISBN: 0-87389-604-1
No. of Pages: 96
Genre: Non-Fiction/Management/Industrial Efficiency/Product Development

"Lean Strategies for Product Development" is a small, beautifully printed soft-cover paperback that you could pick up and read while waiting for your flight in the airport and may be finish by the time you reach your destination after about an hour. However, you may need to reread it a couple of times to really appreciate and fully absorb the important concepts presented therein. In 11 chapters spread over just 62 pages, Cliff succeeds in presenting lucidly some very important concepts and methodologies for faster and better product development. These are aptly called Lean Strategies since they tend to make the organization lean by reducing flab and wastage of resources. An analogy that comes to mind is how a small torpedo boat is much more nimble when compared to a bulky aircraft carrier, or how a lean and fit man can outrun and outmanouver a flabby, overweight opponent in boxing. The need for faster, leaner product development teams that can come up with smart and cost-effective designs to withstand intense competition is very well brought out.

The book resembles the well-known business novel "The Goal" in style, though the story line is not as strong as that book. The tone is quite conversational and most of the time, the text is easy to follow. The examples are quite meaningful and with only a little rereading, it is possible for the strategy to be understood. The contents and a sample chapter of the book can be accessed by clicking on the following link:

In addition to the 11 chapters, the book has appendices including a Glossary, Product Development Approach Summary, Examples of Waste, Value Stream Map Examples, Common Product Development Problems, Product Development Maturity Path, References and at the very end, a very useful index.

I especially liked the chapters on Modular design, Platform Design and The Lean and Six Sigma Connection. I also liked Cliff's emphasis on the imperative need to capture knowledge (Knowledge Management if you prefer). I feel many of the existing organizations, even large ones, neglect
this area. As Ken Hawkins, the Project Engineer of Donetics in the book rightly remarks, knowledge goes into a black-hole, never to come out again!

As an editor, I found a few places where I felt that the text could have been edited better. But in general, there is no difficulty in understanding the message.

All in all, I have no hesitation in recommending this book to individuals, organizations and libraries.


About the reviewer: Swamy is a Physicist and a metallurgist by education and has spent almost all of 37 years in Quality Control, Quality Assurance with special emphasis on various aspects of material testing. His other interests include training and general management. Presently he is actively involved in Human Resource Development and Corporate Communications in a large organiza- tion in India. The above views are his own and do not in any way reflect the views of his orga- nization.

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