Lean has a long and rich history of innovation and expansion. From some
early eorts to improve a machine shop at Toyota, Lean’s ability grew to
where it could improve full production lines. Further eort enabled Lean
to tackle the improvement of entire plant operations, and extended its
value stream further and further back to its suppliers. Beyond produc-
tion, Lean learned to improve strategy; to improve execution, technology,
product development, and design; and to integrate these eorts into the
growing learning capabilities of Toyota. From this expansion, it is clear
that Lean is a learning, evolving platform—a research project whose goal
is to explore the how and why of work and to devise ever-increasing capa-
bilities to change work for the better.
I am very lucky to have been involved in the great research project
known as “Lean.” When I began my Lean experience in research and
development (R&D), I was blessed with a new frontier to explore. ere
were, of course, and there remain, vast numbers of people engaged in
improving technology, developing science, and pushing the frontiers of
knowledge to create new products, technologies, processes, and capabili-
ties. But at the time I began working in Lean, there were scant few people
working to understand how to improve R&D, writ large, in a scientic
and systematic way.
At that time, people were much more likely to imagine improving R&D
productivity by giving it more (or less) money, organizing it into (or out of)
functional or project teams, changing its location, scaling it up or atomizing
it through outsourcing, or by changing the amount or timing of input from
various functions. ere were far fewer engaged in studying the thinking
processes of R&D, the causes of R&D successes and failures, and the phi-
losophies and assumptions about R&D, and in creating experiments to test,
assess, and improve them. Yet there was, and remains, a need to answer fun-
damental questions that aect the capability of R&D in delivering valuable
innovation. Can you learn to create “eureka!” moments that drive leaps in
innovation, and if so, can you teach it? What are the barriers to innovation,
and how can we remove them? In some areas, a key recurring question is:
How can scientists better motivate themselves and each other to overcome

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