Language gives us seemingly endless possibilities to create stories. However, the stories that actually resonate share a common, much more limited structure. The structure of a character, a problem, and an attempted resolution repeats over and over again when it comes to good stories.
Random streams of consciousness do not make for compelling stories. Neither do dream scenarios where everything goes well all the time. Such stories leave us feeling dissatisfied and bored, there is just something not quite right about them. Our mind craves for challenges, for problems and hardships, and for the struggle to eventually resolve them and triumph.
Human beings are creatures of tales and stories. Indeed, one of the most important measures of any leader or salesperson nowadays is storytelling ability. Stories motivate us and change us, their effect on our behavior and judgment far surpasses that of non-fiction: when we encounter a story, we let our guard down and become immersed in its world, allowing it to shape ours.
However, not all stories are equal. Some affect us for a short while, some end up doing more harm than good, while some bring about lasting change and purpose. When you tell a story, you are wielding a powerful tool, so wield it responsibly.
Division of labor is perhaps the greatest invention of mankind. Not everyone has to be a part-time farmer in order to eat, and that’s awesome. However, increasing specialization is not only a good thing, and we have in many ways reached and even surpassed the limits where it is good for us.
It is winter time in the Nordic countries, and with winter comes snow. While doing some routine snow removal the other day, my mind wandered to the Lean Startup concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Snow removal can illustrate the concept quite nicely, so I took this picture of my driveway.
What is a minimum viable product? It is a complete product in the sense that it actually does something.
The cleared area marked in red is not a minimum viable product. Sure, snow has been cleared across the entire width of the driveway, but you can’t actually use it for anything.
The cleared area marked in blue, on the other hand, is a minimum viable product. You have pedestrian access to the mailbox and out of the yard without walking through snow. You can actually accomplish a task! Yeah, it needs to be made wider for cars, but that’s part of future development, adding more features to the product. As a minimum viable product, the product is already accomplishing something.
By now, Lean has a fairly long history. With its roots at Toyota in the 1950s, it had its first run at fame in the West in the 1990s, and more recently the Lean Startup movement has adopted the term to describe their customer-centric product development methods based on Lean principles.
However, while there are lots of companies that are doing Lean or doing Lean Startup, there are precious few companies that are Lean. This is an important distinction, because most often when you do Lean, you are using it as a toolkit, whereas for companies that are Lean, Lean is a fundamental management philosophy that has a dramatic effect on the relationships within the enterprise and also extends beyond the enterprise to the relationship between the company and the society at large.
To understand the distinction, we need to take a look at what Lean is all about.
It is always exciting to find results being achieved by applying Lean thinking in new environments. So, when I recently came across an article describing how the Bærland Skole primary school in Norway had adopted Lean practices to improve learning results and reduce the administrative burden faced by the teachers, I could not help but reflect on their experiences and think about everything Lean has to offer to education, and primary schools in particular.
In this post, I will summarize the experiences at the Bærland Skole, and consider what Lean can do for primary schools even beyond their achievements.
I recently came across an interesting, and apparently fairly popular, article on Lean and Japanese management called The Myth of Japanese Companies and Management.
In the article, the author Joseph Paris argues that there is a major disconnect between Lean Six Sigma events and other strategy and finance events in that in the former, a Japanese style of management is seen as something superb, whereas in the latter, mentions of Japanese management hardly make an appearance.
He goes on to argue that most companies have now implemented the tools and methodologies of Lean and Six Sigma into their own continuous improvement programs, and as such, these no longer provide a competitive advantage.
The article does a fine job illustrating its points, but its fundamental misconceptions about Lean do an even better job at illustrating how poorly Lean is understood in the West at large.
I have been blogging for a good while now as I started this blog in July 2011. However, while I enjoy reading and writing, I have to admit that home-created video has reached a prominent place in recent years, especially in video games, but also in a business context.
Therefore, even though I am a bit late to the party, I finally ventured into streaming and video production on low-cost basis, and I have to say that I am surprised how good the freely available tools are nowadays.
In this post, I will tell you about my setup and maybe there is a small Lean Startup lesson within as well.
Technology is often seen as the answer to improve operations and processes. This viewpoint also applies in HR, where there is even a blooming series of conferences built around telling people how technology is the answer to better HR.
In a blog post titled Technology is the Foundation for Strategic HR, Marc Coleman refers to the September 2015 Cranet report on HR as a confirmation that the use of technology is a foundation for increased strategic HR leadership.
Now, with a claim as tangible and strong as that one, it warrants a bit deeper look. Is technology a foundation for strategic HR?
The New York Times published an interesting article yesterday titled The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead. In the article, the author Alexandra Alter paints a picture of a publishing world where an ebook apocalypse had been coming for years, but now the fear has subsided and print is gaining a stronger position again.
However, not all the claims made in the article are ready to stand up to scrutiny. Let’s take a closer look at the market situation and the strategic choices made by major publishing houses.