I first read about ‘Lean’ back in 2007, before it was re-purposed for technology companies by the Lean Startup movement.
I started with James Womack and Daniel T. Jones’ Lean Thinking, followed by Jeff Liker’s The Toyota Way and the inimitable book on the related subject of the Theory of Constraints, The Goal, by Eliyahu Goldratt.
At the time, I was just embarking on my own professional journey in manufacturing, and these books helped to shape how I understood processes and, in particular, the concept of waste.
Skip forward almost a decade and the Lean Startup movement was well underway in the startup world when we started Unifize. It was amusing to read how Eric Ries and Steve Blank had applied lean manufacturing principles of waste to startups and ‘customer development’.
However, they also introduced a new concept in the form of a refrain to startup founders that confused and intrigued me: “Your product is not the product”.
At Unifize, we eventually understood that it meant your product was not just the piece of software on the cloud that the customer interacts with, but the sum of all parts of the entire business model.
Could the same principle apply to manufacturing or non-software product development?