On process innovation and technology disruption

Recent McKinsey reports (1, 2) have predicted a disruptive revolution in technology that will change the landscape of manufacturing. According to McKinsey, it is vital that the technology strategy of companies extends beyond product innovation into process innovation and the ways those technologies can be used to improve their supply chains and manufacturing.

In this post, I will examine the nature of process innovation, the role of technology in it, and the technologies McKinsey predicts will bring about the next disruption.

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Is the Finnish manufacturing industry at a dead end?

It is a grim time to be working in manufacturing in Finland. Then again, it’s been grim times for more than 30 years already: Finland lost around 240,000 manufacturing jobs between 1980 and 2011, of which 100,000 between 2000 and 2011, and BCG expects Finland to lose a further 42,000 manufacturing jobs by 2020, which would bring the number of remaining manufacturing jobs to around one half of the 1980 level.

In this post, I will examine the situation more closely from the framework of McKinsey’s next-shoring perspective. The next-shoring perspective stipulates that there are two main drivers for selecting manufacturing location: proximity to demand and proximity to innovation. Their relative importance can differ from field to field.

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Lean in new employee orientation – gemba orientation

The company I work for recently hired a new CFO, and I was asked to give him orientation training on his very first day. HR department had a meeting room lined up, and everything was good to go for a couple of weeks inside a small room meeting all the top management and joining the club.

Yet, I felt uneasy about what was to come. I felt that the infinite loop of figures, reports, and meetings with top management could not possible prepare anyone for the work ahead. So, I turned to the Lean principles in search of a better way, and quite soon an idea came to me. It’s all about the gemba!

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How Lean is the Lean Startup?

What does this Lean Startup thing have to do with Lean? What can a startup learn from an established giant like Toyota, or vice versa? Where is my value-stream map, I need a value-stream map, right? The ground between established Lean practice and the Lean Startup movement is full of confusion, but things are far from hopeless – it is possible to form a relatively clear picture of this whole, and that is what this post is all about.

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Lean Startup in large corporations and the shadow of the future

Eric Ries has argued for an entrepreneurial career path to be created within large corporations in order to better promote innovation in his book, The Lean Startup. In this post, I will examine how this idea plays together with the game theory concept of the shadow of the future, which refers to the way our knowledge of future interactions affects our current decisions.

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Lean Startup’s Build-Measure-Learn loop and the PDSA cycle

In his book, The Lean Startup, Eric Ries argues for ways to expand Lean thinking into the realm of startups, into the realm of huge uncertainty.

At the core of his model lies the Build-Measure-Learn loop, which is the key to genuine experimentation and validated learning through working with customers. But what is the relationship between the Build-Measure-Learn loop and the old Lean stalwart, the Plan-Do-Study-Adjust cycle?

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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 Seats2meet.com

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.

Seats2meet.com 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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