Product development guiding principle: Develop products by developing people

Jason Yip
1 min readSep 4, 2022

Guiding principle in effective product development culture.

Making things through making people

Toyota has a phrase “monozukuri wa hitozukuri”. It can be roughly translated to “making things through making people”. In other words, developing good products is about developing the people to develop those good products. Developing products is about developing people.

Product development is “alive” because of people

Product development is a socio-technical system. The people are the active, live part of this socio-technical system. The processes and techniques are static and dead without the people reflecting and improving upon them.

Developing people is not a passive activity

Developing people is not “hire good people and get out of their way”. This is essentially “good luck, I hope you figure it out” or what Kurt Lewin called the “laissez-faire” leadership style.

Developing people means actively setting up the systems, tools, learning, coaching, etc. that allows people to acquire the skills and knowledge to effectively develop products.

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Jason Yip

Senior Manager Product Engineering at Grainger. Extreme Programming, Agile, Lean guy. Ex-Spotify, ex-ThoughtWorks, ex-CruiseControl