As I dodge lighting bolts

April 21, 2014

By Mark Halper via   Article

Iconoclasm of the day: Is lean manufacturing long in the tooth?

““It’s hard to think of a principle that the business world worships more than “lean.”

This manufacturing religion, hatched by its demigod Toyota 50 years ago, has attracted followers the world over who bow to its commandments of just-in-time delivery, of minimizing waste, of problem solving workshops, of emergency cords that workers can pull to halt assembly, and much, much more. …

In an essay entitled Next frontiers for lean, McKinsey preaches that industries outside of manufacturing should convert, especially service industries like retailing, health care, finance, information technology, airlines and also the public sector.

As I dodge lighting bolts, I ask: What?!!

You mean the same lean production system, the same Toyota that has churned out all those faulty cars and whose name has become somewhat synonymous with “recall” in recent years? The Toyota that has had to yank some of its best known brands off the road, most recently the Prius, preceded by the Camry, Corolla and others, for mishaps including sudden acceleration, unexpected stops and fire hazards? The same Toyota where the recall count has exceeded 20 million alone since January 2012? …

Lean has served industry well. But it seems that it’s time to write a new manufacturing holy book. Or at least to add a new testament to the old one.”

Project management a roadblock?

April 21, 2014

By Russell Harley via   Article

Can Project Management Support High Growth Companies?

“There is some thinking that equates project management with being a roadblock to speedy delivery of critical projects. This is reinforced by the number of processes and documentation that can be involved in a project. After all, when a company is trying to meet market needs or break into trends, the last thing it needs is a project manager/PMO saying, ‘We need to have all this documentation before we can start working on this.’

So how can project management be an effective tool versus a roadblock?

Do we throw everything out and just start executing on the work involved with minimal planning/processes involved? That is certainly one way to proceed. But remember the word ‘execution’ has several meanings. An execution of someone’s job could be one example of another meaning of the word. Needless to say, not the use of the word that everyone was hoping for.

For project management to be an asset in critical time to market projects, it needs to be flexible and very agile to borrow a term from our software development friends. Almost the opposite of the standardized way project management is supposed to work, careful and deliberate. Can this be accomplished? In a word: Yes.

The key is to compress and reduce the project management processes and requirements to an acceptable minimum level. This could actually be formalized so critical/fast paced projects have their own separate project track with minimal documentation/processes involved. Of course the risks would need to be evaluated to using this approach, as this type of ‘fast track’ procedure could expose the company to unacceptable risks. This way the business could decide if the timely completion would be worth the risks involved.”

Better to be perceived as naïve and immature

April 21, 2014

By Noam Scheiber via   Article

The Brutal Ageism of Tech: Years of experience, plenty of talent, completely obsolete

“Silicon Valley has become one of the most ageist places in America. Tech luminaries who otherwise pride themselves on their dedication to meritocracy don’t think twice about deriding the not-actually-old. ‘Young people are just smarter,’ Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told an audience at Stanford back in 2007. As I write, the website of ServiceNow, a large Santa Clara–based I.T. services company, features the following advisory in large letters atop its ‘careers‘ page: ‘We Want People Who Have Their Best Work Ahead of Them, Not Behind Them.’

And that’s just what gets said in public. An engineer in his forties recently told me about meeting a tech CEO who was trying to acquire his company. ‘You must be the token graybeard,’ said the CEO, who was in his late twenties or early thirties. ‘I looked at him and said, ‘No, I’m the token grown-up.’ ‘

In talking to dozens of people around Silicon Valley over the past eight months—engineers, entrepreneurs, moneymen, uncomfortably inquisitive cosmetic surgeons—I got the distinct sense that it’s better to be perceived as naïve and immature than to have voted in the 1980s.1 And so it has fallen to Matarasso [cosmetic surgeon] to make older workers look like they still belong at the office. ‘It’s really morphed into, ‘Hey, I’m forty years old and I have to get in front of a board of fresh-faced kids. I can’t look like I have a wife and two-point-five kids and a mortgage,’ ‘ he told me.’ ‘

The techies also place a premium on subtlety. ‘They’re not walking into their office in front of thirteen-year-old co-workers looking swollen and deformed. They’d rather go slow, do it gradually,’ he told me. This helps explain why Fridays are his busiest days for tech-industry patients: They can recover over the weekend and show up Monday morning looking like an ever-so-slightly more youthful version of themselves, as though they’d resorted to nothing more invasive than a Napa getaway.’ “

A tanker isn’t a speedboat

April 21, 2014

By Gijs van Wulfen via   Article

My Single Best Tip for Big Company Innovators

You’re company is like a tanker. It’s successfully moving steady on the same course for quite a long time, trying to master operational excellence in its core business. It has made procedures for everything and organized itself to keep focus and control. A big company is a world in itself. You as innovator are aware of the changes in the world around you. You feel the urgency to change and you see lots of opportunities for new products, services and business models. You just want to move at high speed. …

Now as innovator you can fight this risk adverse culture, as a kind of modern Don Quixote fighting windmills. Or you can accept it. Only when you accepted it, you can deal with it in a big company. A tanker isn’t a speedboat. So my single best tip for Innovators is:

Pick the Right Moment!

The right moment to get support for a break through innovation project in your company is when doing nothing is a bigger risk. When the people steering the tanker know that they have to change course soon. These now-we-really-need-to-innovate moments often coincide with incidents, like:

  • Three continuous quarters without any growth in turnover;
  • A competitor just introduced a great new product, that envies everyone;
  • One of your biggest clients just left;
  • A new competitor entered the market with a revolutionary business model;
  • You just lost three tenders in a row for a big assignment.

… An effective innovator in a large organization has to act with the patience of a hunter. You cannot wait too long though. You know completion of the innovation process in a big company takes at least 18 – 36 months from idea to market introduction.”

Don’t tell me what to do

April 21, 2014


PHD Comics

They won’t hear

April 14, 2014

“Most people have to talk so they won’t hear.”

— May Sarton, Belgian-American writer

Bulldozers and bullwhips

April 14, 2014

By Seth Godin via   Article

Seth“Bulldozers work because they are incredibly heavy. It’s fine that they’re slow, they’re powerful indeed.

Bullwhips work because they are incredibly fast. The superlight bit of leather at the end of the whip travels faster than the speed of sound, hence the crack.

Organizations often thrive because they have huge mass, they are irresistible forces, going where they are pointed. But they don’t get there quickly.

On the other hand, it’s quite possible to make an impact by being fast, light and quite focused.

Important to not confuse which you’re using, though. Trying to make your bulldozer go faster might not work out so well. And you can’t build a road with a bullwhip.”