The Lean Scale-up

October 16, 2014


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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

The Self Aware Organization

September 15, 2014


(Picture by Spencer Tunick)

This is yet another topic that has been running in the background of #hypertextual for a while now. Three events have contributed to promote it to the foreground.

First is the insightful essay by Freddy and Michael Ballé : Lead With Respect, and the subsequent conversation we had with Michael, Luis, Claude [FR] and Céline. The latter made an enlightening point.

“Leading with respect is not just a matter of personal ethics. It has to show, in actual behaviors and practices. It requires a constant effort of self-awareness, self-demanding mindset, and empathy with the diversity of team members.”

Second is the title of talk of Mary Poppendieck at the next edition of Lean IT Summit on 16th and 17th October : The Aware Organization. Last is this talk by Mike Rother, at Lean Summit 2012 where the author of #hypertextual favorite Toyota Kata establishes some interesting connections between neuro-sciences and our ability to learn.

The proposition of this post is that self-awareness is critically important for an organization to succeed, that it has to be deployed throughout the whole organization and, this deployment is the job of managers (and coaches).

Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday Quote : John Medina

September 14, 2014

“Using visual support is also a more efficient way to glue information to a neuron, there may be strong reasons for entire marketing departments to think seriously about making pictorial presentations their primary way of transferring information.”

Brain Rules is an awesome book explaining how our brain works and how brain science may influence the way we teach, learn and work.

Read the rest of this entry »

In 1944 George Loewenstein, a behavioral economist at Carnegie Mellon University, provided the most comprehensive account of situational interest. It is surprisingly simple : Curiosity, he says, happen when we feel a gap in our knowledge.

Made to Stick, the book from which this quote is taken, is a great book to benchmark and design your communication strategy whether it is to sell washing machines or lead changes in an organization.

Read the rest of this entry »


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