photo(2)The Lean IT summit 2014 happened earlier this month and as usual it has been inspiring and fun. Inspiring as it was an opportunity to listen to stories from leading figures of the lean/agile community (Jeff Sutherland, Mary Poppendieck, Daniel T. Jones) or from major companies of the 21st century (Amazon, Spotify, ING direct, Nike and, of course, Toyota).

And it was fun because hanging out with the likes of Mike Orzen, Michael Ballé, Jeff Gothelf, David Boagerts and my colleagues at Operae Partners (disclaimer, the company I work for co-organizes the event) always is.

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The Lean Scale-up

October 16, 2014

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Startups have been all the craze for the last 15 years or so and the two bubbles : 1.0 (dot com’s) and 2.0 (social apps). One could argue that their most impressive achievement is succeeding in making technology entrepreneurship sexy and successful entrepreneurs as glamorous as rock stars, despite the swimming pools flip-flap.

There have been many blog posts about what a startup is and what is not but I’ve always thought there were something missing. Until I read this essay by Paul Graham, co-founder of startup incubator Y Combinator. The name of this essay does not hold so much suspense : Startup = Growth. The guy behind the success of dozens of startups including Airbnb explains why. At this point, I can only recommend you to read this essay and come back, as this is probably the most insightful 15mns read you can have about start-up. (Go ahead, take your time, I’ll be waiting here).

First takeaway :

For a company to grow really big, it must (a) make something lots of people want, and (b) reach and serve all those people.

My perspective is that startups have put great focus on (a), the external part of the challenge, mostly thanks to Eric Ries formalization of Lean Startup. However, I believe that these small companies sometimes are left wanting on (b), i.e internal processes and management. As a result, even young companies succeeding in finding their audience and target customer sometimes struggle to deliver and to achieve promised results and growth.

This is where the Lean Scale-up gets in … Read the rest of this entry »

Peter Drucker coined the term Knowledge Economy some time ago. For one of the main business thinkers of the XXth century knowledge, work, productivity and innovation are tightly related : “Knowledge is the main source of wealth. Applied to the tasks we know it becomes productivity. Applies to new tasks, it becomes innovation.”

That was in 1969 (in his book The Age of Discontinuity according to Wikipedia). There are two ways to put this definition in perspective. The first one is to say : “What a visionary” – I know : I haven’t stop since I’ve started this blog. The second one is to ask : “Well, there has been a couple of changes in the business world for the last 10 years, let alone the last 45, is that definition still relevant ? Is that link between knowledge and value creation still solid?”.

The latter is the aim of this blog post. The answer is “not quite” and here’s why.

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Les inscriptions sont toujours ouvertes pour le Lean IT Summit des 16 et 17 octobre. C’est une occasion unique de rencontrer des grands noms du Lean et de l’Agile réunis cette année à Paris :

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“Si la plus grande partie des ouvriers étaient des professionnels hautement qualifiés, ayant à faire preuve assez souvent d’ingéniosité et d’initiative, responsables de leur production et de leur machine, la discipline actuelle du travail n’aurait plus aucune raison d’être.”

Une citation tirée de l’Enracinement, un texte posthume publié en 1949 et dont des extraits figurent dans le cahier central dédié à l’immense philosophe française dans le numéro 83 (Octobre 2014) de l’indispensable Philosophie Magazine.

Une déclaration visionnaire qui pose, 50 ans avant notre économie de la connaissance, les enjeux discutés de nos jours alors que la vision Tayloriste du travail est remise en cause.

We are having more fun, in part because of the internet. We also are having more cheap fun. But we are coming up on short on the revenue side so it is harder to pay our debts, whether individuals, business or governments” (Tyler Cowen). Twenty first century Information and Communication Technology, in short, is failing the prime test of being economically significant. 

This meta quote, quote about McAfee and Brynjolfsson quoting economist Tyler Cowen, is taken from the Second Machine Age. In the section of the book the quote is taken from, the authors wonder whether ICT are General Purpose Technology such as steam engine or electricity, i.e pervasive technologies that change the way we live, work and do business. They are adamant they are, yet they question the economic return of these technologies.

A strongly recommended read to understand the profound transformation our times are going through.

 

Sunday Quote : #LeadWithRespect

September 21, 2014

“In so many places I’ve worked at in the past, people looked at the future with fear and the past with anger. My dream is to create a place where people look to the future with hope and the past with pride.”

Lead With Respect is an awesome book that #hypertextual has already discussed. This essay by the team Ballé (Freddy and Michael) sheds an unprecedented light on how to build alignment throughout an organization. Read the rest of this entry »

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