Morieux’s six simple rules to managing complexity, Lean, and social business

Morieux's six simple rules, Lean, and social businessYves Morieux’s and Peter Tollman’s Six Simple Rules: How to Manage Complexity without Getting Complicated is one of the most interesting books on designing and leading organizations published this year. Morieux has been refining the concept for the past few years, as the rules made their first appearance in his Harward Business Review article in 2011, and featured prominently in his TED talk in October 2013.

Morieux’s basic argument is that complexity is best managed by creating practices that promote autonomy and cooperation, and he advocates six rules, adherence to which results in fostering the correct behaviors for improved performance throughout the company.

In this post, I will examine Morieux’s six rules and compare them to Lean, because, even though Morieux does not mention Lean at all, and sometimes writes about processes in a negative manner, it seems obvious to me that there would be many similarities in companies guided by either set of principles. As a matter of fact, at least the Lego Group has utilized both Morieux’s guidance and Lean in practice.

I will also compare Morieux’s rules to social business, as that comparison will highlight some interesting potential development in the way work is organized.

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Collaborative manufacturing: Lean and social business

Collaborative manufacturing: Lean and social businessAs social business matures, it is moving to new areas. People share ideas, and they also increasingly share products and services in what Jeremiah Owyang calls the collaborative economy. This sharing has mostly been consumer-centric (accommodation, cars, loans) with fairly few corporate sharing models (coworking is one). However, there is no reason why this model could not work in manufacturing as well, and as a matter of fact there are already some precursors from which a full-fledged collaborative manufacturing model can grow.

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Design for serendipity: coworking at

Design for serendipity: coworking at Seats2meet.comCoworking is a form of work where people share a working environment without being employed by the same company. The idea originated in the USA, where the first coworking locations were opened in 2005. The most common coworking operation model is a paid membership model with personal desks for members and a limited number of drop-in seats available on an hourly rate for other people. started in coworking in the Netherlands in 2007, and their model is somewhat different from the basic coworking model in ways that place a more significant emphasis on serendipity. The story of the company is detailed in Sebastian Olma’s book The Serendipity Machine, which is really content marketing for the company, but offers a number of great insights, so it is content marketing done right. In this post, I will examine the insights that can be extracted from the book from a Lean social business point of view.

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Is Lean for you?

Is Lean for you?Lean is much more than a toolkit, it is a philosophy. This fact is often repeated in many Lean books, but it is rare for those books to go deep into the value base of Lean, to reduce Lean to its bare core, and to build it back from there. Yet, that is exactly what I want to do now.

There is one rather simple question about values that is at the core of Lean. Your answer to this question determines for the most part whether Lean is for you or not.

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Lean thinkers are not on social media and at what cost

Lean thinkers are not on social media and at what costI like Lean. It is a great idea on how to get the whole enterprise on the same boat and working together in a systematic, near-scientific manner. However, at times I wonder whether Lean is keeping up with the times (which is why I am working on refining my ideas on Lean social business), and one worrying symptom is that Lean thinkers at large have not embraced social media. This is rather surprising for an ideology that encourages large-scale participation, although a certain amount of technological skepticism and being more of a tortoise than a hare are common features in Lean and can explain this to an extent.

In this post, I will examine the state of Lean thinking on social media at the moment.

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A brief introduction to the Lean toolkit

A brief introduction to the Lean toolkitNow that we have established that Lean and social business are at least somewhat compatible in their core, it is necessary to start looking deeper into the toolkits that have evolved from these values. In this post, I will present the basics of a Lean toolkit and also compare them to the value base of social business.

Lean has adopted a great deal of terminology from Japanese, but don’t let that intimidate you, the key terms are quite easy to learn. It can also be an advantage in that when using the Japanese term, it is clear that we are talking about the specific Lean concept and not using the word in a more general meaning.

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Amazon, Lean, APE, and the future of publishing

Amazon, Lean, APE, and the future of publishingThe New York Times published an article about Amazon last week titled As Competition Wanes, Amazon Cuts Back Discounts as well as an accompanying blog post titled The Price of Amazon. These two articles, both written by David Streitfeld, convinced me that the publishing industry is failing catastrophically.

In this post, I will elaborate on how the publishing industry is failing, what does Lean at Amazon have to do with why Amazon succeeds, and why Guy Kawasaki’s and Shawn Welch’s recent book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book, should be read by most traditional publishers.

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The difference between Lean and Taylorism

The difference between Lean and TaylorismNowadays, Taylorism is almost a derogatory word. Furthermore, often any form of process management is seen as undesirable. This is a shame, and one that merits a brief journey back to the beginning of the 20th century to come to a more complete understanding of what Taylorism and processes are about.

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The evolution of Wikipedia from a Lean perspective

The evolution of Wikipedia from a Lean perspectiveWikipedia is perhaps the most monumental achievement brought about by social collaboration tools. Its tale has been told many times, and it was actually used as one of the examples of the new paradigm in Andrew McAfee’s groundbreaking book Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges that was published in 2009. Comprehensive accounts of Wikipedia’s history are also available online on Wikipedia itself and in the form of Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger’s memoir on its early history on Slashdot.[ii]

A brief recapitulation of the story is necessary for our purposes, but the main goal is to inspect the story through a Lean lens in order to visualize what Lean might have to offer for social collaboration.

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Are Lean thinking and social business compatible?

Are Lean thinking and social business compatibleThe short answer is, it depends. There are many ways to interpret Lean, just as there are many ways to interpret social business, and some of the tools used under these names are not compatible with each other. However, the thing I am most interested in is their compatibility on a very fundamental level, on the level of their core premises from which the various tools are but imperfect manifestations.

Just like value-stream mapping is not the same thing as Lean, crowdsourcing is not the same thing as social business. While a toolkit approach to Lean or social business may produce results, it is usually very difficult to retain those results unless the toolkit is based on something more and ingrained into the corporate culture. In order to explore the compatibility of the paradigms, it is necessary to explore their core.

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