Michael N. Kennedy, Founder & CEO

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Before TCC, I worked for Texas Instruments Defense Electronics for 31 years in product development, in manufacturing, in systems development – in both individual contributor and mid-level manager positions. I retired as a Senior Member, Technical Staff (SMTS) with a role of a leader in the creation and adoption of improved product development processes. My efforts helped enable TI to win the coveted Malcolm Baldrige award for process excellence.

I took an early retirement package in 1997 when TI sold the defense business to Raytheon. Why did I retire? After all, I was still enjoying my work. I retired because I had met Dr. Allen Ward and had learned about the Toyota Product Development System from him. It was fundamentally different from what I had believed and had been leading at TI. It also was fundamentally better and resolved problems naturally that our rigorous process approach seemed unable to resolve. Our system was built on detailed design processes to manage specifications and the ability to iterate designs to meet those specifications. The Toyota system was built on the premise of learning – what the customer interests are and how to build the knowledge to meet them. Products are simply the result of integrating the growing knowledge into a continuous rhythm of great products.

I wrote the first book, Product Development for the Lean Enterprise (Oaklea Press, 2003) while I was working jointly with Allen on the NCMS project where we met and on other joint efforts. The plan was that I was going to write a business novel that introduced the change problems and he was going to write a textbook that explained more detail. His tragic death in a plane crash cancelled the plans and we lost a great interpreter of the Toyota System. This book, which was posthumously published last year, showed his thinking at the time; unfortunately, that book did not include what I feel is his greatest contribution: the recognition of the LAMDA learning process as the foundation of their system.

So why did we write the next book? It is one thing to understand what Toyota does and, logically, why it works. It is quite another to actually implement the fundamentals in a different company and in different cultures. We feel that it is now time to focus on implementation. That is what Ready, Set, Dominate is about. All of us have extensive experience in product development and manufacturing. Our observations are different from those of academics, as often are our conclusions.

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