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 …

Continue reading “Lean and Green : Interview With Kelly Singer”

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”

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 …

Continue reading “Thinking : the missing link in the work value chain”

Lean Thinking for the Digital Enterprise – interview with Dan Jones

Daniel T Jones

Daniel T. Jones has contributed to arguably some of the most important management books of the last 30 years. In “The Machine that Changed the World”, and “Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Organization” Dan and Jim Womack describe the principles and practices behind the amazing growth of Japanese car manufacturer Toyota.

Dan’s thinking journey of the last few years have been quite interesting as he has been applying Lean thinking to the advent of digital. The latter has indeed been one of the main topics at the center of his interests: you can tell from the last conferences Dan gave. I personnaly find it interesting as this is somehow the opposite journey as the one I have made, from digital (collaboration platforms, agile …) to Lean. Note that I am not pretending here that my work is comparable to his invaluable contribution to management thinking.

Dan is a busy man. Yet he somehow managed to allow us some of his precious time. We are so grateful and honored to discuss the intersection of Lean thinking and digital with one of the men who invented the word Lean and deciphered Toyota system for us. Continue reading “Lean Thinking for the Digital Enterprise – interview with Dan Jones”

Three reasons why Lean will save your job


(Version française)

Workers of the 21st century western world, unite !

The 1973 oil crisis has been a key moment. At this point in time, people from the south decided to stop fostering western countries middle class growth with cheap resources. Since then, we have witnessed our job security been compromised by many different factors. For the sake of brevity I will only consider three in this article.

The first one is globalization. People from all around the world are jumping on the opportunity of joining the western world middle class. Who could blame them ? All of a sudden they have the ability to afford for a decent living, pay for studies for their children to get graduated and the prospect of social promotion.

The second one is boredom. Companies have spent since the 90s a terrific amount of energy (and money ! ask Oracle or Salesforce) to rationalize processes and freeze them into IT enterprise systems. The workforce is now completely subjected to mostly dysfunctional IT systems, processes are completely pulverized and employees, having lost the contact with the customer, have lost the meaning of their work.

The third one is a more recent one : robots and algorithms. Engineer dreams is to design people out of the system to make it “perfect” (cough) : the advent of robots and algorithms is a dream come true for the Engineer culture.

So where do we go from there you might think ? Who gonna save our jobs ? If you are serious enough about these questions, the benevolent shadow of Taiichi Ohno is looking after you. Lean can help in overcoming these threats, keeping our jobs and, into the bargain, making us more engaged in our work. Here’s why …

Continue reading “Three reasons why Lean will save your job”