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The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  2,310 ratings  ·  114 reviews
In this book, Reinertsen provides an examination of product development practices. He explains why invisible and unmanaged queues are the underlying root cause of poor product development performance. He shows why these queues form and how they undermine the speed, quality, and efficiency in product development.
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Celeritas Publishing
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Rod Hilton
Feb 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: programming, business
Don Reinertsen's book is somewhat difficult to review. There are two aspects to a book: the information it contains, and the way in which it is presented, and since my take on these two aspects of so different, I wish to speak about them separately.

In terms of the information contained in the book, it is phenomenal. Reinertsen basically takes the principles of Lean Manufacturing and explains the ways in which they can apply to product development and the ways in which they cannot. For the princi
Erika RS
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, physical, software
This was sometimes a frustrating read. The author wants this to be a dense reference resource rather than a long explanatory text. This is fine. I can pull out the internet to look up unfamiliar terms. However, I do think that Reinertsen's brevity hurt his core arguments at time. For example, much of the discussion of the impacts of queues depended on details of the M/M/1/∞ queue. The shape of the conclusions apply to other queueing disciplines, but the equations don't apply exactly. It would ha ...more
Michael Fruergaard
Oct 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
I had very high expectations for this book. I've had it recommended by a number of people - and thought I would really benefit from reading it.

It does add value, but Mr. Reinertsen is making some obvious mistakes that makes me doubt the more valuable parts of the book.

The book's format is inspired by the world of physics, and is providing 100+ principles that to some extend build on top of each other. This unfortunately also means that if one is a fallacy, the rest could be impacted.

Mr. Reinerts
Jens Comiotto-Mayer
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book bears many analogies to product (and software) development that, to me, seem much more suitable than many of the manufacturing parallels that are often made when talking about things like Kanban or the Theory of Constraints, albeit they also still hold their value in certain places.

Nevertheless, the nature of product (and software) development is in many parts fundamentally different than the challenges of optimising a production line, and so are the choices to be made. Using analogie
Bjoern Rochel
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, eng-mgmt
Marvelous 5 star content obscured by sub-par organization and style choices
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Weirdly good. It talks about processes that have existed forever manufacturing that we're only now discovering in Software Development. And it goes *really* in-depth into them, including ideas like queueing theory which was very new to me. It *is* written like a textbook though, which makes some of the information less accessible than it should be. ...more
Dan Lewis
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm a software developer with ten years of professional experience, lately making manufacturing and R&D product development support software. I have not read about lean manufacturing, but I was exposed to some of its practices indirectly in my work at Amazon.

This book was very practical for me. It honors the existing orthodoxy about kanban, lean manufacturing, and Toyota, while carefully drawing distinctions between repeatable production and innovative product development. So it serves as a usef
Henri Hämäläinen
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing

I was told already about three years ago, that I should read some of Reinertsen books to understand much more about product development. Finally I read The Principles of Product Development Flow. I'm actually happy that I didn't read it earlier. It is a great book, but I have learned so much about product development during past years, that I was myself much more ready to understand the book, that I would have been earlier.

This book is not normal SW development book. I'm not sure if Agile or Scr
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
I didn't finish this the first time I read it and gave it two stars. That was unfair.

I gave it a second chance and found it chock full of valuable advice on managing product development. If I had to summarise the book I'd say it's about taking all the complex interdependent components of designing and building things and making them understandable and manageable through the use of economic frameworks.

Just because "Product" is in the title, don't think it's just for product managers, if you're an
Charles Eliot
Jun 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Principles of Product Development Flow is an important and thought-provoking book. It's also a frustrating, condescending, and self-important book. Donald Reinertsen has some vital knowledge to pass on. He wants us to know why the rules of product manufacturing don't work for product development. He also wants us to know that he's a very clever man, and you're probably not. But he has a treasure trove of solutions, based on the simple and elegant practices of computing costs of delay, and ta ...more
Alper Çuğun
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A treat to read this book which is a distillation and a validation of knowledge I picked up from a bunch of other books and during years of painstaking work.

I'm a big proponent of the mathematical treatment of agile product development he puts together here with some dollops of critical chain project management thrown in. Living in Germany it is funny to read so many principles that are in direct opposition to local business practices.

Halfway through it becomes a bit of a slog but I feel I need
Roger K.
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone who works on projects, products, or services. Reinertsen is masterful in building a comprehensive approach to product development from manufacturing, networks, computer operating systems, and the military. His insights overturn conventional thinking and even much of the guidance in Agile/Lean thinking.

The author uses 175 principles to structure the book. He provides clear examples, inspiring charts, and practical advice throughout the book. Yo
Alexej Gerstmaier
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What an excellent gem of a book!

Exactly what I like. I learned a lot from this book despite the fact that I recently read a different book on product management as well as Goldratt's "The Goal" and I also heard lectures titled Operations Research 1 and 2 at university which extensively dealt with queuing theory; I never grasped the importance/relevance of that for product development.

This book gives actionable principles built on top if a solid theoretical/academic framework that was generated f
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Other reviewers have written great reviews about the power behind this book's premise. This is a fantastic treatise on how product development could (and arguably should) be. I'll simply say that I am happy join in and applaud Reinertsen for exposing many of us who are in the dark to these core concepts that are blindingly obvious in other industries. Reinertsen's 175 principles together are truly more than just the sum of their parts. Really Reinertsen is pointing to a completely different way ...more
Richard Mullahy
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
The insights contained in this book are revelatory, and should be required reading for anyone involved in leading an R&D organisation. That being said it isn't easy required reading. Reinertsen does attempt, in his principles-led structure, to make this logical and easy to follow. However there is a lot of looping back and forth and internal cross-referencing that can be distracting. This book can probably be boiled down to a smaller number of key principles with less elaboration in the body of ...more
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is one of a kind.

I just don't have enough words of praise for such authoritative work in Product Development. Principles of Product Development Flow delivers a set of 150 principles, most of them backed with sound mathematics and statistics models, that can help you attain the desired effectiveness in your Development organization.

Starting from the premise that a business is a system whose raison d'etre is to make profits; it follows the logic that all decisions made in the development
Dec 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, armin
If you are working in large organizations using SAFe, this book is required reading. You can see how SAFe derived many of its principles from this book, only that here you have the time and space to go to much more detail and breadth. While I wouldn’t call it an easy read, it’s full of examples that make the often very technical sounding principles come to life. I also liked how Reinertsen borrows ideas from concepts seemingl outside the industry, such as computer processors, the Internet, or mi ...more
Jan 20, 2021 added it
Reading note: The first time I tried this book, I successfully read about five pages before bouncing off and selling it. I think the biggest problem I had was expecting this to be a book about how to design better products, when it's actually about process.

What was especially helpful for me the second time around was watching this comparatively short video on queues in software development beforehand; it gave me a much more accurate sense of what to expect.
Hunter Hart
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a book of three different ideas speed, quality, cost . Hands down the best book on Product Management I’ve read so far. Donald Reinertsen clearly explains the challenges in developing software products and offers pragmatic solutions to drastically improve time-to-market, economic value & product quality in a refreshingly down-to-earth manner.

The book busts traditional product management myths and introduces well-known concepts from Lean methods.
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
An excellent book thoroughly explaining the theories behind lean product development. Dense, to the point and well argued. I especially liked the economical arguments the book started with and kept gravitating towards, making this a great book for not just working with lean practices but also business-whispering the benefits of doing so. Slightly dry and required deliberate attention to understand, but I guess that happens when you minimize fluff.
Bernardo Torres
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have no idea why this book is less popular in software development than any other Agile related literature.
It presents the principles behind many of the methodologies in vogue today: Scrum, Kanban, Agile, A/B testing, TDD, CI/CD, etc.
While the book Accelerate presents some of outside practices as the reasons for companies successes, Don's book presents the economical thinking behind them, also mixing up with information theory, computer science and warfare.
Hugo Corbucci
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really good book but very hard to read. Along with a lot of deep queue theory and serious mathematical theory interpolation, the advice are often very abstract and hard to understand how to put in practice.
Generally the ideas are great and it is worth the effort to read but it is definitively not a light read and requires a lot of work to try to put in practice.
Tom Atwell
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book. As a software development manager, it reinforces a lot of the concepts and practices I've adopted over the years using scrum. Yet there are still some surprises and lessons and important changes I discovered that I've already started applying to positive effect.

The most important moment in the book is probably Figure 8.6: Metrics for Flow-based Product Development.
Eric Bowman
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A deep book which exposes the systematic flaws arising from a naive application of agile principles at scale. In particular, though not mentioned, this book provides the foundation for why feature teams and Inner Source are so important for realizing global efficiency in turning ideas into products.
What intrigued me: My boss and RTE buddy recommended this book.

What I liked: There were a couple of insights here and there that helped me understand some lean concepts better. I liked the Achieving Decentralized Control section the best as I haven't read about a lot of the examples shared.

What I didn't like: It took me months to get through this book. It is a slim volume, but every time I put it down I didn't really want to pick it back up.

I did not like the way the principles were laid out (
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is a remarkable book that spans numerous disciplines in its mission of applying principles of flow to product dev't. I found many insights in further extending them to knowledge work productivity.
Edward Dahllöf
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked the mathematical explanations and some of the principles are useful.
The book is condensed in some parts where more examples and explanations would be useful, and repeats itself in other parts.
Andy Nortrup
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It you work in software development you need to read this book. It is critical to think not only about your craft of design but the methods we use to endure that what we build is delivered quickly and has the highest value.
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book which helped bring home why short horizon, frequent releasing combined with a mix of centralized and decentralized control aids in software/product development.

There is a lot to love about this densely packed book and I plan on applying several of the ideas to upcoming programs.
Colin Clark
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Most commonly held beliefs regarding product development are just wrong. In this book, why those beliefs are wrong is described and how to do a much better job is explained, with supporting theory and math.
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22 likes · 28 comments
“In product development, our greatest waste is not unproductive engineers, but work products sitting idle in process queues.” 7 likes
“The more detailed we made our plans, the longer our cycle times became” 5 likes
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