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Achieving Lean Mindset: A case from CMI Defence


Achieving Lean Mindset: A case from CMI Defence

Lean Product Development is a paradigmatic approach for new product development that has surfaced in 1990s, which elements, tools and methods have been widely applied across companies around the world and benefits were described by many. However, most companies highlight one particular area as being the foremost challenge in implementing lean in product development and innovation; the human behavior or the mindset of employees across all levels.

CMI Defence, a Belgian weapon system manufacturer, recognized this challenge before starting the lean product development implementation and was therefore, able to add it in its lean roadmap.

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CMI Defence is one of the world’s leading companies in multifunctional, high-effect weapon systems for light and medium weight armored vehicles. CMI Defence is part of the CMI Group, which in 2014 generated nearly 900 million euro, 38% of which came from CMI Defence with the remaining 62% spread evenly among the Group’s three other sectors.

Constant demand for shorter development and lead times, including several day-to-day business issues, for instance inefficient communication, coupled with the company’s continuous growth were clear indicators that a change was needed. CMI Defence found an answer to increase its product development efficiency by applying Lean Thinking practices.

Lean Mindset is a state-of-mind that aims to foster lean behavior and practices. CMI Defence’s Lean Mindset is based on a combination of well-established agile values from the Agile Manifesto (agilemanifesto.org) and Mascitelli’s waste of time concept.

The Agile Manifesto consists of four sentences:

  • Individuals and interaction over process and tools
  • Working products over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer and supplier collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

While all items listed above can contribute to increased value when tackled correctly, CMI Defence empathizes its efforts on:

  • Individuals and interaction
  • Working products
  • Customer and supplier collaboration
  • Responding to change

Therefore, one of the key aspects of the Lean Mindset is focusing on high- and higher-value activities, rather than wasting time on the ones that contribute little or not at all towards customer satisfaction. In CMI Defence, below figure articulates the wasteful practices and behaviors that the company is trying to eradicate with the purpose of creating more agile and focused environment where cost of time, especially of strategic projects, should be keep on the minds of top management as well as the development teams.

Low-value activities in product development

Achieving Lean Mindset, however, should not to be taken lightly. It requires, acceptance, devotion, discipline, training, and coaching. To ensure the widespread of Lean Mindset, CMI Defence trains its employees in collaboration with world renowned experts in lean product development. Trainings are mainly conducted as short specialized courses. The courses are often delivered in a shape of exercise or a business simulation, which permits for stronger connection of individuals (and teams) with a methodology used for solving a simulated problem, and, hence, increasing the learning intake.

How does your company tackle lean product development challenges related to people behavior and mindsets? What approaches do you employ?

Book 2017 - Mockup 01 (small-900px)

CMI Defence’s Best Practices are presented and described on more than 25 pages in the Lean Product Development Best Practices book. CMI Defence’s chapter is only one out of the 10 chapters presenting the real-world application of lean product development in multinational companies.

The hard copy of the book with the 10 cases is available for only 74.99 EUR.


CMI Defence’s Lean Product Development case is available digitally free of charge to our members


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Lean Analytics Association

Matic has over 5 years of experience in working with global organizations from various industrial sectors, either leading or supporting the development and introduction of bespoke lean innovation and new product development solutions. Over the past years, Matic has co-developed a framework to enable better, faster and more integrated innovation across the entire value chain, enabling companies to maximize their innovation capability and deliver truly customer-centric products and services, while minimizing the risk of market failure.

Matic is a certified Service Design Thinking Facilitator, and the creator of the Set-Based Integrated Innovation Business Game co-developed with a multinational Swiss company. He completed his Master’s degree in Global Product Development and Management at Cranfield University in 2012.

Matic is a co-author of the Lean Product Development Best Practices book, and several journal and conference publications. He regularly appears as a speaker and workshop holder at various lean, product development and innovation conferences.

CMI Group

Olivier Carlens is a Deputy Group CTO for CMI, a Belgian diversified group involved in Defense, Energy, Industry, Environment and Services. He previously worked for the CMI Defence, a CMI Group subsidiary, and other Belgian Defense companies. His experience includes Project Management, Systems Engineering, Product Development and Innovation Management.

Olivier received a Master of Sciences in Ballistics and Weapon Engineering from the Royal Military Academy of Belgium, a MBA from Vlerick Management School and a Master of Sciences in technology Management from the Open University.

Lean Analytics Association

Dr. Flores has over 20 years of experience collaborating as internal or external consultant in different manufacturing and services organizations, leading several initiatives related to Lean Thinking, Business Process improvement, Six Sigma, Supply Chain, Change Management, Open Innovation, Digital Transformation and Human Centered Service Design; providing also training and coaching.

She is co-founder and president of the Lean Analytics Association (LAA) and visiting scholar at the College of Management of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland.

She carried out her Post-doc at EPFL collaborating at the Lean Product and Process (LeanPPD) FP7 European project from 2009 to 2013. She completed her PhD in 2006 at the Politecnico di Milano studying Open Innovation Models to enable Industry-University collaboration for innovation. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Manufacturing Systems in 1999 and a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Monterrey Tec (ITESM) in 1996.


Myrna Flores
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