Bragging About Long Cycle Time?


Thanks to a Lean Blog reader, Ryan, for sending this in (click on the ad for a larger image). He asked why BMW would brag about it taking SEVEN years to develop a new vehicle? This is much slower than the industry average.

Most auto industry focus is on speeding product development times, to get new vehicles and new features to market faster. I'm not a product development expert, by any means, but I know Toyota had always been much faster than the rest of the industry because of their product development system. GM and the others have gotten much faster, but Toyota still leads that race, right?

Is BMW assuming the car buying public is impressed by their devotion, that they didn't rush this new vehicle to market, ala “No Wine Before Its Time?” When I toured the BMW plant in South Carolina a few years back, they bragged (to a public tour) about how many inspections they did at the end of the line. Again, I assume people are impressed by that.

But, as Lean Thinkers, we'll ask “Why don't you build in quality instead of relying on inspections and rework?” the same way we'll ask “Shouldn't you be able to develop a new car in LESS than seven years?” I guess this is why BMW isn't known as a Lean Manufacturer?

Related Reading: The Toyota Product Development System: Integrating People, Process And Technology

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. I made the same observations from a tour of Crayola’s manufacturing facility. They said they inspect 100% of their Crayons coming off the line! That takes a lot of time and resources for something that breaks as soon as my 2-year old opens the box.


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