Having a large order backlog is actually not a good thing

Having a large order backlog is actually not a good thingOne of my favorite brain teasers when giving Lean training is the question of whether having a large order backlog is a good thing or not. It is rare for anyone to immediately say that it is a bad thing, and this is why it is such an illuminating example of how to think Lean.

Many companies that are doing well like to tell how their order backlog has increased and is at a high level. This is commonly seen as a sign of success, but it is not necessarily so. To see why this is so, we need to look at the issue from the point of view of both the company and the customer.

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Have to and cannot, the most misused phrases in business?

Have to and cannot the most misused phrases in businessSimplification is often useful in life, but taking a very straightforward approach can also prevent us from seeing and discussing many of the options that are available. In practice, this often boils down to the ease with which we succumb to using the words “have to” and “cannot” in our daily lives.

I do not claim that there are never situations where people have to do something or cannot do something. However, especially in the domain of business operations, these situations are nowhere near as prevalent as the common use of these terms implies.

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Lean is more than continuous improvement of existing process

Lean is more than continuous improvement of existing processThere are probably quite a few misconceptions regarding Lean, and this state is not made any easier by the fact that there are many ways to apply Lean nor by the fact that many ideologies have borrowed the name and some tools from Lean (such as Lean Six Sigma).

One of my pet peeves is the misconception that Lean is about improvement, but not about innovation. I see how this misconception is easy to arrive at, as the most common tools people borrow from Lean focus on waste elimination or value stream mapping and are often associated with iterative improvement of the process in small steps.

However, Lean itself has innovation at its very core, and in this post I aim to elaborate on that a little bit more with the help of an analogy.

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Toys-to-life games and toys: from Skylanders to LEGO Fusion

Toys-to-life games and toys from Skylanders to LEGO FusionToys-to-life refers to a relatively new category of games and related toys that was born as recently as 2011 with the release of Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. It has been a spectacularly successful category, with the Skylanders franchise alone surpassing $3 billion in sales.

As of late, there have been many new entrants to the competition, so it is a good time to take a look at what toys-to-life games are all about, what kinds of offerings there are on the market, and where the market may be headed.

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On the failed promise of social collaboration: reply to Boyd

On the failed promise of social collaborationStowe Boyd recently blogged about what he calls the failed promise of social collaboration, where social collaboration tools in fact reduce productivity and do not enhance it.

However, what he considers social collaboration is a concept that seems utterly alien to me and contrary to all the design principles I have applied when designing social collaboration. Yet, perhaps his take is what social collaboration means in most companies? This is an intriguing subject, so in this post, I will delve deeper into what social collaboration is all about, or should be all about.

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What are we really trying to teach children via computing?

What are we really trying to teach children via computing?Teaching children computing is all the hype nowadays. The forerunners, such as the UK and Estonia, have already started, with other countries, such as Finland and South Korea, not far behind.

The public discussion in Finland has mainly focused on how children will be taught coding. However, this is a fundamental misunderstanding on what this future subject is about according to its most vehement proponents.

In this post, I will examine what exactly we want to teach children via computing, and whether teaching computing is a good way to accomplish this goal.

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How to change corporate culture to be more open to change

Technology adoption strategiesChange management is hard. As a general rule, change adoption rarely, if ever, happens overnight by simply adding a new process or technology and holding a few training sessions.

In a recent blog post (in Finnish only, sorry), Marko Suomi argued that people in organizations in general act according to the technology adoption lifecycle: some are very enthusiastic about new changes whereas others are much slower to adopt them. It is important to note that the enthusiasm of individuals varies between changes too: even a person who is generally an innovator usually does not adopt all changes first.

In this post, I wish to delve a bit deeper into how changes are adopted in organizations and what the management can do about it.

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Times change, can your company change with them?

Times change, can your company change with them?The world is changing at an increasing pace. There is even some evidence pointing to that, such as the 2012 Innosight study that discovered that the lifespans of top companies have shrunk considerably over the years.

What has been most alarming for many managers is that plenty of companies have not been able to rebound after the Great Recession. With the Great Recession as a convenient cover story for years, it has been easy to miss that some companies are able to succeed regardless, and all poor performance does not result from the recession. Yet, companies can suffer from poor performance even if they have not become any worse. How is that possible?

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