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Eric Graves

Aerospace and mechanical engineer turned NPD systems engineer, Eric spends his time engineering better product develop systems, using Playbook as his tool of choice!

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Changing Mindsets by Applying Lean and Agile Methods

Eric Graves- 09/12/13 09:11 AM

Hello world! This is my first entry into the blogging business. I hope to have many great discussions with you. Please allow me to introduce myself. For the last 10 years I have been a Lean Product Development and Lean Project Management consultant with Playbook. More recently, I've become the VP of Technology, and essentially the 'VP of Product Development' as well. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure to work with and learn from many different and amazing companies and people -- Eric Ries, the Author of The Lean Startup, would call them Corporate Entrepreneurs.

Project diversity 

Project diversity is what makes things so interesting at Playbook. It has been wonderfully educational. We've been able to see what works and what does not work in a myriad of different conditions and improve our Playbook methodology along the way. For this blog, I'll draw from experiences in product development projects where the products had 1 part to product development projects where the product had 30,000 parts. I'll also draw from experiences in a spectrum of other project types such as software development, sustaining engineering, quality improvement, process improvement, enterprise software upgrades, manufacturing transfer projects, and more.

Lean, Team, Agile and Flow

It has been really interesting to see how valuable lean, team and agile principles are and how the Playbook methods can be applied in so many different scenarios. Of course at Playbook we apply lean, agile and team methods internally to create flow, not only in the development of Playbook, our project management system where lean, team and agile methods and guiding principles are embedded, but also to many other initiatives. Using the methods internally, on my own projects, has been a great learning experience.

Using the Playbook method at Home

One other place where I've been able to apply, learn, and hone our Playbook methods, is at home. For example, I'm doing a complete renovation to our home, with whole new configuration and a lot of design work involved. I am able to practice and see the value in ‘early learning’, ‘project risk management’, and ‘lean architecture’ among others.

As the father of a 2 yr old boy, and ‘frustrated-by-her-brother’ 4 yr old girl, I've also found juggling two kids, and this large renovation project enhances my understanding of availability and capacity, and the impact of variability in my availability on project completion. (I’ve been working on this house a lot longer than I expected – surprise, surprise!)

In addition, my lovely wife has projects of her own that I get to be a part of (sometimes unwillingly). Marriage and sharing in joint projects has helped me understand the importance of clear communication (clear requirements), clear ‘roles & responsibilities’, ‘cost of delay’, and patience.

I completely agree that lean is a learning journey but when implemented correctly it delivers amazing results to delivering better products faster to market to beat the competition! I’m still learning. As I go. I will share my experiences in greater detail applying Playbook methods with you on this blog. I hope you will share back. Stay tuned…. 

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