Saturday, November 26, 2011
Turkey. Baseball. Coherence.
Friday, October 28, 2011
This morning's Wall Street Journal had a long article about the latest European bailout plan. A major bank leader observed the results of the effort and said this:
"The implementation challenge is higher than the design challenge."
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Right Sizing: A Full-Bore Example
He looked for a small space, which he found about a year ago. He then fitted it with a single stove, small but adequate refrigerator, seating for 12 people inside and 12 more on the porch. He worked out a plan for a simple but compelling menu plan: Four soups and two sandwiches each day, the menu written on a chalk board. He'd pick the soups, based on what was in season and what seemed pleasing to customers. He made it with passion, from scratch, from the heart. He worked out the marketing plan; a simple photo of the chalkboard posted each morning on Facebook. He worked out a personnel plan: he could do everything, needing no employees.
He opened his dream in May, 2011. Through the warm summer season, he did OK. But his plan was to stay and prosper as the tourists left, the Wisconsin temperatures cooled and local residents still wanted tasty soups. When we met in late September, the plan was gelling. I witnessed a steady stream of customers, all enjoying the warmth and aroma of homemade soup in a cozy setting. I saw a smiling Paul, feeling like it was coming together.
What does this say about right sizing? How did Paul right size?
- His facility. The small store was what he could manage himself.
- His equipment. The kitchen had just what he needed; no extra.
- His marketing. With a small menu, a photo on FB works great.
- His location. He picked a small town where a small soup bar had a chance of succeeding.
- His menu. The offerings each day are limited...it's a soup bar, after all, not a diner. This lets him deliver what he knows he can make well.
- His technology. A chalk board is far more flexible than a written menu. Paul can shift it (and does) daily. He told me how he enjoys experimenting to find what works.
- His expectations. This is the biggie. At a strategic level, Paul rightsized. Paul knew what he wanted; independence, a way to make an adequate if not extravagant income. And he sized the entire enterprise to do just that.
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Sunday, October 16, 2011
Moneyball, the movie
Friday, September 23, 2011
Two Questions to Get You Unstuck
1. What is our desired outcome?2. What is the next step?
Monday, September 05, 2011
Mistake Proofing--why we should love annoyances
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Thanks for Reading!
Consumers and Creators
Fifty years ago, the ratio was a million to one.
For every person on the news or on primetime, there were a million viewers.
The explosion of magazines brought the ratio to 100,000:1. If you wrote for a major magazine, you were going to impact a lot of people. Most of us were consumers, not creators.
Cable TV and zines made it 10,000 to one. You could have a show about underwater spearfishing or you could teach people to make hamburgers on donuts. The little star is born.
And now of course, when it's easy to have a blog, or an Youtube account or to push your ideas to the world through social media, the ratio might be 100:1. For every person who sells on Etsy, there are a hundred buyers. For every person who actively tweets, there are a hundred people who mostly consume those tweets. For every hundred visitors to Squidoo, there is one new person building pages.
What does the world look like when we get to the next zero?
Thursday, August 04, 2011
Strategy or Slogan?
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Thursday, June 30, 2011
"Why measure it if you are not going to do anything about it?"
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Review: The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement by Jeff Liker and Jim Franz
In this latest effort, Prof. Liker and coauthor Jim Franz take us deeper than kanban and hoshin kanri to the real philosophy behind Toyota's consistent expertise in manufacturing. The authors use insight and experience to tell the story of WHY Toyota has achieved excellence. The consistent theme is the PDCA cycle. This practice is not new; Demming gave it to the world years ago. But just as the concert pianist and brand new piano student can both play a C-Scale, the master has done it longer, better, with more nuance and breadth. So Toyota has more deeply understood the learning from PDCA than any of the rest of us.
Most useful, to me, were sections such as chapter 5; "Lean Out Processes or Build Lean Systems?" In these more philosophical chapters, Liker and Franz both force and lead the leader into deeper understanding of WHY; why does Lean work for Toyota when it seems to underperform for others? Is it a kanban card which sparkles more brightly? Is it better charts on the wall? Or is it the investment in people made in the context of process excellence? And, if so, just why is this the case?
It's a long book. You won't read it in one setting. Similar to Liker's other books, there is just a lot to work through. There are more case studies here which will add for some readers and clutter for others. But, face it, it is tough to make a process-oriented business work so don't be surprised you'll have to work to understand this at a depth to be sufficiently useful.
This book reaches the level of Womack and Jones' "Lean Thinking" and Spears' "Chasing the Rabbit" as necessary books for Lean leaders to read and know.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Gumbo from Gemba
Sunday, April 03, 2011
System Optimization, Chain Saw Style
The Starting Condition
- It took me far less time to cut a branch than it did for my wife to drag it to the street.
- We had only two people to do this job
- We wanted to get the whole job done before the start of the NCAA Semifinals, around 6pm local time.
- Safety was a factor when using a chain saw and lifting heavy, bulky branches
- The end result had to be visually pleasing
- The end result had to build, rather than stress, our relationship.
The End Result
Pile o' cuttings
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Are they metrics or are they numbers?
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Lean Behaviors: Trust
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Book Review: Gemba Walks by Jim Womack
Jim Womack has done yet another wonderful service for the Lean Community with his most recent book "Gemba Walks". I've already greatly benefited from it on a first read. Why?
Repetition. Creative, clear, shapeful repetition.
Jim brings a remarkable clarity to the task of explaining, encouraging and directing lean implementations. In this book, he pulls together his written record of walks through a multitude of companies over the past ten years. He published these records in monthly email newsletters during this time, most of which I remembered reading. This text shuffles the observations into themes. Womack adds depth, context and linkage with brief paragraphs before each one.
And the core theme comes through. Repeatedly.
Look. Find the problem. Work hard to find root cause. Fix it. Repeat. Experiment relentlessly.
With story after story, Jim explains how this simple pattern works when applied relentlessly. And how getting bored with repeating this pattern is a plan for mediocrity or worse.
Jim's relatively recent observation of outdated management systems undermining genuine excellence comes out in two new essays in the collection.
For a person new to Lean, "Gemba Walks" will quickly teach much. For those of us in the trenches, there is both encouragement and more than a few good kicks in the pants. For senior execs trying to understand Lean, this is way better than more Power Point slides.
In many ways, this book may well also serve as an excellent reference. Jim organized the chapters to align with common sets of problems we see. One simple read of a chapter will take less than 10 minutes and I found each would trigger 2-5 quality ideas to test. Soon.
Simple steps, done repeatedly and consistently, work. Womack explains this clearly. Well worth the read.