General Electric (GE) is adopting principles from the lean start-up movement to expedite its product development processes. The manufacturing giant is trialling a new approach, called FastWorks, across 100 projects. FastWorks aims to reduce the time it takes to bring a product to market, cutting costs and increasing competitiveness.

Inspired by Eric Ries’ book, ‘The Lean Startup’, FastWorks encourages employees to build minimum viable products, gather customer feedback and then iterate. This contrasts with GE’s traditional approach of spending years perfecting a product before launch.

FastWorks has already been applied to the development of a new diesel engine for trains. The project was completed in half the time and cost 20% less than typical GE projects.

Despite these early successes, there are challenges. Workers are having to adjust to the new way of working and the company has had to invest in training. Additionally, not all projects are suited to the FastWorks approach.

Yet, GE is committed to the new methodology. The company believes that by adopting lean start-up principles, it can stay ahead of its competitors and continue to innovate in a rapidly changing market.

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