The Big Short : anticipating the unthinkable from the gemba

Just saw the movie The Big Short. Exciting cast, great actors, great plot, lively editing and a very clever and unconventional approach to explain complicated financial concepts (for some reason when Margot Robbie explains one from her bath while sipping champagne, we tend to offer a better quality of listening).

But the thing that has fascinated me in the movie was how character Mark Baum (based on Steve Eisman) walked the whole process backwards to figure out what is going on. From the customer – a Miami stripper who gets morgages for 5 houses and a condo from not very scrupulous mortgage brokers – up to the Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO) Manager, including credit rating agencies and the SEC.

A great way to fight misconceptions and collective illusions. A way we call Gemba in Lean : going where the value is created and walking the process from the customer backwards. In most organizations, the hypothesis whereby the process doesn’t not work as intended remains unthinkable. Lean’s assumption (verified so many times) is that unless you walk the process backwards, you just dont have any idea of what is going on.

In a time where everybody laments a post-factual world, a great example of how to go and see for yourself the actual facts to fight a collective illusion and a culture shaped by confirmation bias on steroids.

Lean and Green : Interview With Kelly Singer


One of the emerging topics around Lean in the last few years has been Green. A pillar of the 21st century vision for the Lean company, Toyota, environmental concern has been a central topic of innovation for the japanese car maker. As another evidence of the ability of lean to engage people in making opportunities out of challenges, no matter how global and complex they are, Toyota has become a pioneer with hybrid technology ever since the late 90s with the Prius and now with fuel cell technology. Last but not least, lean and green also represents a credible and exciting practical alternative to the degrowth ideology.

Kelly Singer has been a very careful observer and actor of this nascent trend. For her it just makes sense : global environmental issues are probably the most challenging topics of our times and Lean focus in reducing waste certainly can contribute some effort to address this challenge.

Despite a heavy schedule, Kelly has allowed #hypertextual some of her time to answer our questions with great insights, challenging perspectives and practical advice for everyone to take action now, both in the professional context and our everyday life …

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Cracking the Talent Code with Daniel Coyle and John Wooden


Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement, one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens and when it happens, it lasts.

The importance of repetition until automacity cannot be overstated. Repetition is the key to learning.

(John Wooden)”

In The Talent Code – greatness is not born it’s grown, Daniel Coyle aims at cracking The Talent Code i.e how people develop exceptional talent in different disciplines – from musical instrument to business to (in the case above) sport.

The quotes above, taken from this book, are from John Wooden, often referred as the Greatest Coach ever. Continue reading “Cracking the Talent Code with Daniel Coyle and John Wooden”

La pensée Lean pour l’entreprise numérique : entretien avec Dan Jones


Daniel T. Jones a contribué à des ouvrages de management parmi les plus importants de ces 30 dernières années. Dans The Machine that Changed the World (Le Système qui a Changé le Monde), et Lean Thinking : Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Organization (Bannisez les Gaspillages et Créez de la Richesse dans Votre Entreprise) Dan et Jim Womack décrivent les principes et les pratiques utilisées derrière la croissance spectaculaire du constructeur automobiles japonais Toyota.

Ces dernières années la réflexion de Dan a été particulièrement intéressante en ce qu’il a fait le choix d’appliquer la pensée Lean à l’avènement du numérique. En effet, ce dernier a été l’un des sujets les plus importants au centre de ses préoccupations, comme nous avons pu le constater dans ses dernières conférences.

Pour Dan le numérique est un levier formidable pour mener à bien la mission du Lean : transformer l’entreprise en organisation apprenante, à tous les étages de la hiérarchie. Et le Lean est un élément essentiel pour l’entreprise numérique en ce qu’il propose un système de management pour bénéficier à plein de la puissance du digital, pour développer les compétences des personnes et la valeur de l’entreprise, plus vite que les concurrents.

A titre personnel, cela me semble d’autant plus intéressant qu’il s’agit d’une certaine façon du chemin inverse à celui que j’ai emprunté : du numérique (développement de solutions innovantes au sein de startup, méthodes agiles, plateformes collaboratives …) vers le Lean. Notez bien que je ne prétends pas ici que ma contribution au management du 21ème siècle soit comparable à la sienne, inestimable.

Dan est un homme occupé. Il est pourtant parvenu à nous accorder un peu de son temps précieux. Nous sommes ravi d’avoir eu cette conversation à l’intersection du Lean et du numérique, avec l’un des hommes qui a inventé le mot « Lean » et qui a décrypté pour nous le système Toyota. Une occasion de célébrer les 20 ans de la parution du séminal Lean Thinking ….

(Version anglaise disponible en ligne – Merci à Aleksandra Dergacova pour la traduction)

Continue reading “La pensée Lean pour l’entreprise numérique : entretien avec Dan Jones”

Let’s talk about #PresentOfWork


“Books about the future of work make the same mistake : they fail to look back at the history of work or more precisely the history of books about the future of work and how wrong they were.” (Scott Berkun – The Year Without Pants).

Interested in management and the impact of the advent of digital in the our life, I am largely exposed to many thought leaders and fellow professionals discussing about one perceived intersection between both : the future of work. Great hopes are discussed (let’s do X, it will be so much nicer afterwards), radical positions are taken (let’s get rid of managers), some arguably dystopian visions are delivered (holocracy) and dangerous promises are made (innovative socio-technological solutions will solve your organisation problems).

In all fairness, I fully understand the seduction of intellectual projections, I have been recovering from this propensity for the last couple of years myself. Yet, ever since I’ve discovered Agile management methods, I have learnt a very valuable principle inherited from lean : focus on today’s problems.

I am not fully convinced that while discussing about #FutureOfWork we are discussing solutions for the main problems organisations are facing today. Continue reading “Let’s talk about #PresentOfWork”

Thinking : the missing link in the work value chain

I have been working for about 30 years and my personal objective has always been to create more value and to improve the way we work. We spend many hours of our days at work and it can sometimes be a hard, frustrating, stressing, annoying experience. It seems to me that it is worth spending some time and try to make it a “better place” if you spare me the truism.

So I have been climbing the work value pyramid (not talking about the hierarchical one, here) and along the way I have met many people traveling the same journey as me. When I talk with these people I often see more or less the same mental model of this chain of increasing value :

Tools > Processes > Methods > Strategy > Culture

The hypothesis is the more you want to gain lever and improve the working organisation, the higher you aim. An hypothesis that doesn’t take into account the fact that soon there are diminishing returns in abstractions as Scott Berkun rightly says. Now that I have been studying and practicing lean for 5 years, I see two missing items in this pyramid while one no longer seems relevant …

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Never Split The Difference – Chris Voss


Chris Voss est un ancien négociateur du FBI, spécialiste des prises d’otages et de la négociation avec des criminels ou des terroristes dans des situations éminemment tendues. Dans Never Split the Difference – Negociating as if your life depended on it, il décrit les différentes méthodes utilisées pour établir le contact et obtenir ce qu’il souhaite de ses interlocuteurs.

Sa posture est simple : lors d’une négociation, il n’y a pas opposition entre deux personnes mais deux partenaires qui cherchent à régler une situation. Et la vertu cardinale est l’écoute : listening as a martial art comme il l’exprime si bien.

L’intérêt du livre réside dans l’aller retour éclairant entre la théorie et la pratique. L’auteur a enseigné à Harvard, Georgetown, Northwestern, Lausanne ou Francfort, et son ouvrage est enrichi de références à de nombreuses théories de psychologie. Quant aux cas pratiques, il s’agit d’histoires de première ou seconde main : vécues par l’auteur lui-même, des élèves ou des collègues.

Un ouvrage éclairant, pratique et pédagogique : si ces techniques fonctionnent avec des criminels et des terroristes, il n’y pas de raison qu’elles ne puissent fonctionner dans un contexte d’affaires, avec votre partenaire dans la vie voir même avec vos ados …

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