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Organizing for Lean R&D at Siemens Building Technologies


The implementation of any new approach, tool or method can be difficult, because it represents a change, and a change means people need to adjust to a new way of doing things. This is especially true and can have significant implications for an organization, in the case where a change is big and spans business-wide. In 2010 Siemens Building Technologies embarked on a way to undertake the implementation of Lean Thinking in their product development and R&D.

Implementing lean is not something that is done overnight, but it requires careful and meticulous planning in order to understand how lean thinking will provide value to the customers and the organization. It is crucial to reach this understanding before organizing tools, methods, and people in order to be able to align all elements with the vision and mission of the organization.

This article provides insights into how Siemens Building Technologies put in place a plan to implement Lean product development across all levels.

Although lean thinking was implemented in manufacturing much earlier, Siemens Building Technologies’ lean product development journey started in 2010 with an official kick-off to increase awareness across organization. The company followed a bottom-up approach focusing first on the individuals to implement Lean Thinking in R&D projects to achieve strong engagement by the employees. The upside-down pyramid shown in the figure below depicts the vision to change the DNA of the company by introducing lean thinking across all levels.

Siemens - Figure

The value-creating processes are, thereby, intentionally set on top to emphasize their importance. One of the key efforts was to identify tools that could support all three outlined levels in their daily activities. The vision was not to deploy a lot of tools but to concentrate on few that could be impactful and easily applied to solve product development challenges quickly and in a collaborative way.

Siemens Building Technologies worked hand in hand with external consultants to roll out training sessions related to personal work and cooperation style so everybody could contribute to lean thinking in their daily work immediately. For example, the continuous reception of incoming emails has been identified as a disturbance for people when they should actually be working on projects. Turning automatic email notifications off, and checking emails three times a day has been encouraged and quickly accepted by employees. As everybody has been notified on the policy, they know that if an urgent reply is required sooner than 2-3 hours, another form of contact must be used (phone or face-to-face visit).

To support the deployment of the Lean Product Development strategy, Siemens Building Technologies established three key roles:

1. Global Lean Coaches:

  • Engage employees to implement lean thinking in R&D globally
  • Coordinate the program
  • Provide and maintain the methodology and toolbox
  • Roll out the training sessions and motivate local lean coaches and employees to use the tools

2. Local Lean Coaches:

  • Enable lean thinking implementation at their own site
  • Listen to the local challenges and support local teams to define, document and communicate their lean projects in R&D
  • Since local lean coach is not a full-time job, these employees must also carry out their regular activities as usual and implement lean thinking in their daily work to

3. Teams:

  • Groups of employees focusing on specific Lean Product Development practices, methods and tools as they are running the project

In ensuring the engagement of all employees in the implementation of Lean Product Development providing the right training on a continuous basis is vital to the successes of the initiative. The company was well aware of that, so they developed and put in place a formal training model right at the beginning of their implementation efforts. Read more about Siemens Building Technologies’ training model and approach in the “Lean R&D Training at Siemens Building Technologies” article.

How did you approach the implementation of lean thinking in innovation/product development / R&D? Share your examples and experiences with us on Twitter (@Lean_LAA) or via info@lean-analytics.org!

About the Company:
Siemens Building Technologies is part of the German multinational conglomerate, Siemens AG. It is one of the world’s leading companies in building automation, fire safety, and building security, with its headquarters in Zug, Switzerland.
To retain its competitive position and to improve efficiency, the company launched the Lean Product Development initiative in 2010 and has come a long way since. The main expectation of the lean thinking implementation was to become more productive, enabling teams to reduce waste in all their daily activities and enable cross-functional collaboration with lean tools in all R&D projects.

Book 2017 - Mockup 01 (small-900px)

Siemens Building Technologies Best Practices are presented and described in more than 20 pages in the Lean Product Development Best Practices book. Siemens Building Technologies 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.


Siemens Building Technologies Lean Product Development case is available digitally free of charge to our members.


Interested to become a member?



Lean Analytics Association

Doroteja has over 4 years of experience working on lean product development with background in mechanical engineering and ultra-precision technologies. She has worked with global organizations from various industrial sectors, either leading or supporting the development and introduction of bespoke lean innovation and new product development solutions.

Doroteja is interested in innovation capability development and over the past years she has developed several training courses to support organizations achieving quick and efficient knowledge transfer through customized simulated sessions. Being a certified Service Design Thinking Facilitator, she believes in “Doing, not speaking” and supporting developments of truly customer-centric products and services.

Doroteja is a co-author of the Lean Product Development Best Practices book, and conference publications.

Siemens Building Technology

Pascal Iten graduated at the Department of Management, Technology and Economics at ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), followed up with consultancy at Andersen Consulting (today “Accenture”). He went back to the ETH to write a PhD in the subject “Knowledge management in the innovation process”. Next, he worked as a product manager and head of quality management operations at ESEC SA and as senior consultant at ERNI Switzerland in the subject of processes and quality. After setting up and managing a project office for R&D, Pascal is now working as a lean development expert and coach for the CPS business unit at Siemens Building Technology in Zug, Switzerland.

Lean Analytics Association

Dr Flores has over 20 years of experience collaborating as an 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.

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 led the development of a framework to enable better, faster and more integrated innovation across the entire value chain, empowering companies to maximize their innovation capability and deliver truly customer-centric solutions, 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.

In 2017 Matic co-authored the Lean Product Development Best Practices book, and several journal and conference publications. He regularly appears as a speaker at various lean, product development and innovation conferences.

Myrna Flores
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