Every executive has heard about the importance of Lean as a means of eliminating waste and “fat.” However, when operations are novel and complex—as in product development, research, information technology, and many other kinds of projects—cutting out the “fat” turns out to be much more challenging. To understand Lean in an environment characterized by extreme novelty and complexity, we drew on our experiences with a number of processes, and in particular Lockheed Martin's Lean implementation for the F-22 fighter aircraft. Our findings lead to a path that executives and managers can follow to become Lean without compromising innovation.
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