For those who did not know, Karen Wilhelm is actually the brains behind SME. She is also an easy mark for stray dogs and just about anyone who puts on a pathetic, downtrodden act – including me. All I had to do was whine about my ignorance and she immediately came to my rescue. Responding to my first post on Project Kaizen, Karen sent along a copy of a paper she wrote with Takashi Tanaka called "Quickening the Pace of New Product Development". Tanaka works for an outfit called QV Systems and he is a Toyota guy. The paper they wrote is solid gold.
Developing a new product – especially a car – is an extraordinary and complicated project, but a project nonetheless. I highly recommend that you read this paper in its entirety – don’t get mentally lazy on me now and use the excuse that your projects are different. Of course they are – all projects are different.
No matter what sort of project you are up against, however, there are some very solid principles in Karen and Tanaka’s paper that will be of enormous value to you. I couldn’t steal their thunder if I tried, so I will not even attempt to give you a Reader’s Digest of the paper. I will just steer you in particular to the points about visual control of the project and putting more emphasis on the human side of the project than the methods. Pay "close attention to communication – the basis for knowledge management".
There is much in this document for all project oriented folks. Thanks, Karen, for the help.