I 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.
Continue reading “The building blocks of a dynamic organization”
Companies are constantly looking for ways to be more effective and more focused. This places a major strain on the support functions, as they need to prove their worth in creating value for the business or face more and more cost-cutting measures and outsourcing. This has led practically all support functions to seek a deeper partnership status with the core business units. However, therein lies a problem: how many partners can the core business units have? Is it viable for all support functions to become business partners? If it isn’t, which ones of them can reach this level?
Continue reading “Can all support functions become strategic business partners?”
Lean is a comprehensive management philosophy, and one important aspect of Lean is leadership. In this post, I will examine how adherence to Lean principles develops well-rounded leaders as measured through the lens of the 8 DISC leadership styles.
Continue reading “Developing balanced leaders through Lean”
We live in a world full of uncertainty. If there was no uncertainty, waterfall would be an infallible project management method and a well-written business plan would be the key to success for any startup.
So, given that uncertainty exists, we face the question what to do about it. The traditional answer has been to reduce uncertainty and thus make things manageable, and there are still many advances that can be achieved in that field.
However, the more uncomfortable question is what do we do about things that remain uncertain? What if some of this uncertainty is inherent, something we are never able to remove? In such cases, we need to build systems to manage this uncertainty, even harness it, instead of merely attempting to reduce it.
Continue reading “Managing inherent uncertainty with Lean Startup and social business”
In recent weeks, Raph Koster has been writing interesting post-mortem articles about Star Wars Galaxies. One point in particular caught my attention from a leadership point of view: the state in which the team was left in after Koster’s departure and his regret over his failure to train a replacement before he left.
Koster’s story is not a rare one. I have been through similar experiences myself. It is the difference between managing a team and leading a team, and it is a difficult lessons to learn. In this post, I want to dig a little deeper into management and leadership, and how it affects the growth of the team members.
Continue reading “Leaders grow their own replacements, managers don’t”
Complacency is a natural, almost inevitable feature of human behavior. It really is very difficult to recognize the need for change, especially as companies that experience hard times have almost always had a very successful past.
Motorola experienced sliding market share for five years before they recognized that maybe they should do something about it. Harley-Davidson almost went bankrupt and saw their domestic market share fall from over 80% to below 5% before their turnaround began. A similar story could be told of many other companies. Complacency is not rare, it is, in fact, systemic. So is there something we can do about it?
Continue reading “Guarding against complacency in the enterprise”
The 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.
Continue reading “Reaching for enterprise agility with a dual operating system”
One 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.
Continue reading “Having a large order backlog is actually not a good thing”
Simplification 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.
Continue reading “Have to and cannot, the most misused phrases in business?”
There 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.
Continue reading “Lean is more than continuous improvement of existing process”