What is 3P and Why Should I Use It?

I recently spoke with Allan Coletta, who is the author of a new book titled The Lean 3P Advantage: A Practitioner's Guide to the Production Preparation Process, and asked him directly: "What is 3P and why should it be used when developing new products?" Here is Allan's full response:

Lean 3P (Production Preparation Process) is an event-driven process for developing a new product concurrently with the operation that will produce it. 3P is a game-changer that results in better products that require less initial capital investment and lower ongoing costs.

Previously, Lean had been largely relegated to fixing existing problems in our manufacturing plants. 3P takes Lean principles upstream into the new product development arena, and applies them liberally at the point in the process where they can have the most influence on both product and operation. Enormous advantages are created by deeply understanding customer needs and developing alternative designs that will create breakthrough benefits. Time is no longer spent trying to fix “baked-in” problems.

New products and new operations require many functional groups working together, but traditional development is typically a series of successive sub-optimizations and hand-offs. Time pressure and a passion to quickly reach a design decision squashes innovation.

Lean 3P brings stakeholders together and sequentially takes them through a process where products are developed alongside of the manufacturing operations. Design engineers interact with process engineers, marketing, and research & development team members; each declaring their preferences and capabilities and developing alternative options against agreed criteria. Manufacturing and maintenance teams weigh in with preferences for operability and maintainability, standardization, ergonomics and flow.

The Lean 3P advantage is about rapid learning, collaboration, and innovation, and it works with new or established products and on any sized project. Companies in virtually every industry are applying Lean 3P to drive competitive advantage.  

Why do you think of Allan's thoughts on 3P? Have any of you applied 3P when developing new products? What were the results?


Robert Drescher said...

I do agree with the concept that 3P is important and should be used. What I hate is yet another acronym for something that has been around for a long time. Concurrent design, and develop, has been used by dozen for organizations for decades. Surprise 3M and most Asian automakers use it and have for a long time. Much of the electronics industry uses it, they have to their product lifecycles can be measured in months, sometimes even weeks.

So yes we all should work a designing, producing, and marketing new products at the same time, what we do not need is another acronym.

After all what good is it to design a product that cannot be produced at a price the market is willing to pay, or design a producable product for which their is no market.

Allan said...

I really appreciate Robert's comment about our love of acronyms. They make it too easy to casually dismiss subjects that are much deeper and important, like 3P.

It may also be true that there is nothing new under the sun, however in the case of product and process development, the vast majority of companies are not using collaborative, concurrent design methods.

What I find exciting about Lean 3P is that it is a process that is accessible by anyone, in any company and in any industry and the methods still work. It's not relegated to just big Automotive, or Tech; process industries or discrete manufacturing.

It does require a change in mindset and approach and that is the tricky part for most of us. I'd love to hear more stories of how people have bridged that hurdle in their companies!

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