By now, Lean has a fairly long history. With its roots at Toyota in the 1950s, it had its first run at fame in the West in the 1990s, and more recently the Lean Startup movement has adopted the term to describe their customer-centric product development methods based on Lean principles.
However, while there are lots of companies that are doing Lean or doing Lean Startup, there are precious few companies that are Lean. This is an important distinction, because most often when you do Lean, you are using it as a toolkit, whereas for companies that are Lean, Lean is a fundamental management philosophy that has a dramatic effect on the relationships within the enterprise and also extends beyond the enterprise to the relationship between the company and the society at large.
To understand the distinction, we need to take a look at what Lean is all about.
I 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.
Technology is often seen as the answer to improve operations and processes. This viewpoint also applies in HR, where there is even a blooming series of conferences built around telling people how technology is the answer to better HR.
In a blog post titled Technology is the Foundation for Strategic HR, Marc Coleman refers to the September 2015 Cranet report on HR as a confirmation that the use of technology is a foundation for increased strategic HR leadership.
Now, with a claim as tangible and strong as that one, it warrants a bit deeper look. Is technology a foundation for strategic HR?
The New York Times published an interesting article yesterday titled The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead. In the article, the author Alexandra Alter paints a picture of a publishing world where an ebook apocalypse had been coming for years, but now the fear has subsided and print is gaining a stronger position again.
However, not all the claims made in the article are ready to stand up to scrutiny. Let’s take a closer look at the market situation and the strategic choices made by major publishing houses.
Despite the advances achieved in the past 100 years, we are still on the journey towards gender equality as a society and the road ahead remains long and winding. However, I think there have been a number of beacons of hope within the past five years when it comes to the “girls” toy market, and this movement is not going to stop.
In this post, I will examine a number of toys directed at girls and the way they have been marketed, and sketch out what the future could hold for toy manufacturers adventurous enough to fully venture into the still relatively unexplored realm of educational and empowering stories and toys.
LEGO is famous for its mission, “To inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow.” However, when it comes to the digital space, especially video games, LEGO has had a hard time finding ways to actually turn this mission to reality.
In this post, I examine what LEGO has been doing in the digital space, where LEGO could shine, how competitors have already arrived there, and what LEGO could do to live up to its mission in the digital.
Platforms are all the hype nowadays. Whether it’s iOS, Android, Uber, or Airbnb, it seems that platforms are set to inherit the Earth.
I have examined the platform hype and the deeper meanings derived from reinterpreting platforms through a lens of service-dominant logic before, and in this post I want to turn the focus to LEGO.
What? LEGO is not a software company that provides a platform for other companies to sell their wares, what has it got to do with platforms? While it is different, I claim that LEGO is, indeed, a platform, and I’ll show you why and why it matters – and how to go beyond that to LEGO as service.
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.
Platforms are all the hype nowadays. It seems as if the silver bullet to success for any enterprise is to become a platform following a trend set by the iPhone with which Apple disintegrated Nokia as a smartphone giant.
However, I argue that this belief in the power of the platform is ultimately misplaced and only manages to capture the superficial instead of the core underlying principle. In order to understand why, we need to turn to service-dominant logic.
Companies are increasingly striving to become more focused on customer needs and better serve their customers. After all, what is a company without customers? Yet, what exactly is the relationship between the company and the customer, and what should companies do in practice in order to truly provide service for their customers?
In his new book, FinancialServiceLogic: In the Revolution of Exchange in Banking and Insurance, Pekka Puustinen serves us as a guide on a path to a deeper understanding of the nature of exchange, the multiple dimensions of value created for all parties through interaction, and what it means to see your customers as human beings.
While the book focuses on the finance sector, the core tenets of the book are in no way limited to finance alone. The lessons from the book apply to any business, and the discussion is not so specific to finance that managers from other fields could not see how to apply it.