If Lean is so great, why are Japanese companies not doing better?

Himeji Castle, JapanI 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.

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The building blocks of a dynamic organization

The building blocks of a dynamic organizationI have written about many themes that touch the corporations of today in this blog over the years. Themes such as Lean, social business, dynamic capabilities, Lean Startup, intrinsic motivation, and service-dominant logic each have had their time in the spotlight.

With all these themes and theories, what is the big picture? I believe there is, in fact, quite a coherent picture that can be painted from all these themes, and that picture provides some much-needed answers on what a dynamic organization looks like and how to build one.

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Reaching for enterprise agility with a dual operating system

Reaching for enterprise agility with a dual operating systemThe world is changing at an ever increasing pace. This is the mantra that we are relentlessly exposed to, and there is a fair bit of data to back up that claim as well, so clearly there are some challenges for businesses that need to be met.

One of the latest attempts to address these challenges comes from John Kotter, famous for his 8-step process for leading change, who has adapted his change leadership process into a more agile version that he calls the “dual operating system” of the firm in his book Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World.

In this post, I will look into what the dual operating system is all about and how it compares to other paradigms that also attempt to meet the same challenges.

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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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Dynamic capabilities in personal career planning

Have you ever been asked where you will be in five years? Or what is your career plan? With the pace of change in the world being as rapid as it is, and with no signs of it slowing down, these questions do not make quite as much sense as they perhaps used to.

The same applies to strategic management, and there one of the more popular answers to rapid change has been the adoption of the dynamic capabilities framework. Interestingly, its teachings apply equally well on an individual level when it comes to career planning.

I have written about dynamic capabilities in more detail before, but in this post I wish to explore the application of dynamic capabilities to individual career planning as an intriguing analogy.

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