Friday, 13 February 2015

How to treat knowledge in product development - 10 principles

Kennedy, Harmon and Minnock's excellent book "Ready, Set , Dominate" takes a knowledge-centred view of product development, inspired by practices of Toyota Motor Company and refined through application to a wide variety of industries across the globe.

Here are the ten principles that they list in the conclusion to the book (my explanation in italics).

"1. Knowledge is both the raw material and the output of product development,
2. Set-Based Knowledge is infinitely more valuable than Point-Based Knowledge (this means that generically applicable knowledge, for example "these combinations work in these circumstances" and often stored as trade-off curves, is more valuable than specific knowledge such as "this combination worked in this circumstance") ,
3. Knowledge must be visible to be used and managed,
4. The product development organization must be skilled at creating, capturing and using the knowledge,
5. The knowledge needed to be successful is a deep understanding of the interests of all the customers in the operational value stream, how decisions made in design affect them and how those design decisions interact with each other
6. The knowledge needed to be successful needs to be available before the decision, not afterwards,
7. The decisions should be delayed as long as possible to allow the maximum learning within time and budget,
8. Mechanisms must exist within the product development process to pull the reuse of existing knowledge and the creation of additional knowledge before the decision deadline,
9. That knowledge should enable and be systematically used to eliminate the weakest alternatives from the set of all feasible solutions allowing designs to converge to the optimum, and
10. The organization must manage the process of creating, capturing and using the product development knowledge with the same diligence given to other corporate assets".
With the possible exception of numbers 5 and 9, which refer specifically to a design/manufacture context, these principles should be applicable in many other Knowledge Management initiatives (see for example the US Army KM principles).

However see the words of warning below from the authors.

"What is difficult is that some of the principles are opposite to today's practices and even seem counter-intuitive. Further, some roles in organizations may need to be created or modified for better knowledge management. And, as with any initiative, there is the need to lead the organizational change. As these principles and capabilities begin to fall in place, engineering productivity and schedule attainment increases rapidly".

1 comment:

Marshall Kirkpatrick said...

Nick, this is a super helpful summary of this book. Delicious! Found via Samuel Driessen on Twitter and sharing with my product manager, Danish Aziz. Thanks!

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