A children’s traffic park is a park where children ride pedal-powered cars on roads and operate according to traffic laws. I have been to quite a few such parks, but it was my recent visit to one in Pori that really opened my eyes to the vices of batch production.
You see, I have hardly ever had to queue in a traffic park. However, in two attempts at Pori’s traffic park on different days, my children were unable to get a ride. On the first day, the queue was 2,5 hours, and on the second day, the queue was 1,5 hours. How on earth is this even possible?
I 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.
Respect for people is a central value in Lean, and it is also often misunderstood. Respect for people in Lean is more about improving each person towards perfection, and less about nice behavior. To fully understand this point, it is useful to go to the source, Taiichi Ohno, the main creator of the Toyota Production System.
There is an unfortunate side effect to being exposed to Lean thinking in large quantities: you begin to see so much waste in processes all around you. It is everywhere, and going Lean could help all these companies. That includes amusement parks!
I visited the Särkänniemi amusement park in Finland with my family today, and this is a tale of what my kaizen eyes (which are by no means perfect) saw on that trip. I will use Legoland Billund as a comparison a fair bit, as I visited that amusement park earlier this year.
Now 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.
The 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.
Nowadays, 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.
Wikipedia 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.
The 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.