Sunday Quote : The Phoenix Project

phoenix project

I don’t want poster about quality and security. I want improvement of our daily work showing up where it needs to be : in our daily work.

The Phoenix Project is a business novel telling the story of a car parts companies from the perspective of the newly appointed CTO. As in Michael Balle‘s trilogy (The Gold Mine, The Lean Manager, Lead With Respect) the fictional nature of the book helps in making visible how the main character and his team learn by doing, all the while being coached by an expert.

The Phoenix Project is one of the most important book about the DevOps movement as it explains how the IT organization should be, likewise a factory, seen as an entity delivering a constant flow of value to the organization and the customer.

The constant analogy with the actual shop floor of the factory should  inspire some humility to IT people :

“You think IT Operations is rocket science compared to manufacturing. What absolute baloney”, he says dismissively.  From where I’m sitting, the people in this building [the factory] have been far more creative and courageous than anything I’ve seen come from you IT guys.    

A mandatory read for IT managers. And a strongly recommended read for anyone working in IT or for any executive working in close relationship with IT (i.e. just about any executive) .


Sunday Quotes : Clay Shirky

“In 1645 a group of people living in London decided that they would refuse to believe things that weren’t demonstrably true (…) This group which included the natural philosophers (scientists) Robert Boyle and Robert Hooke and the architect Christopher Wren was referred to (…) as the Invisible College (…) The Motto of the group was Nullis in Verba – Believe nothing from mere words. When one of their number number announced the result of an experiment, the others wanted to kow not just what the result was but how the experiment has been conducted, so that the claims could be tested elsewhere. Philosophers of science calls this condition falsifiability. Claims that lacked falsifiability were to be regarded with great skepticism (…) The Invisible College became so important to British science that its members formed the core of the Royal Society, a much less invisible organization chartered in 1662 and still in operation to this day.”

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How to develop 21st century top professional skill in your organization


The first part of this blog post draws on the results of a study by the World Economic Forum to identify the top professional skills to thrive in the 21st century Complex Problem Solving. This first part aim at helping you benchmark your organization and its ability to develop the right context to develop this skill through many questions.

This second part of the post provides some answers to these questions : what is a problem, what is problem solving, how to identify or develop a problem solver etc … In addition, it provides you with some paths to explore and make your organization a better place for people to develop and apply this skill, on a daily basis.

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And the top professional skill of the 21st century is …

The World Economic Forum has just published the list of the 10 skills you need to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution.

Not only do they rank these top skills in 2015 but also the ones in 2020. because they are forward thinkers. Not forward thinkers enough if you ask Stowe Boyd though, as this has ignited some sorts of arms race in terms of #FutureOfWork concepts on his blog.

Yet, for regular chaps interested in #PresentOfWork, this is solid enough work for us to draw on :

The report asked chief human resources and strategy officers from leading global employers what the current shifts mean, specifically for employment, skills and recruitment across industries and geographies.

The aim of this first episode on the topic is to help you make this pivotal information actionable for your organization. In order to do so, this post won’t supercially skim through the report adding some noise and intellectual speculations. Rather is aims at helping you thoroughly thinking it through. Don’t want to sound like patronizing but “helping you thoroughly thinking through” means asking questions. Clayton Christensen and Jason Fried both think this is the right way to understand so it might be worth giving it a try.

The objective is twofold. First, it is to help you figure out what this information does mean in the context your organisation. Second, it is for you to benchmark your organizational development strategy, to give a hard look and see if it fosters such skill development.

The second part of this blog post will come with some hints on how to develop this oh so precious skill  …

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Questionning Google capacity to innovate


This is a discussion I had with some other people during Lean IT Summit 2017. My former colleague Antoine Contal, now working for Google, made a rather impressive talk on how Google works at removing waste to help their employees thrive with digital products and services.

Elaborating on this talk we just came to challenge the actual innovative reputation of Google. We started to identify a gap between, on one hand, the many books and articles in which Google is referenced as an innovative company and, on the other hand, the actual number of world changing products they have launched after in-house development. Continue reading “Questionning Google capacity to innovate”

Lead With Lean : Interview With Michael Ballé


I have been lucky enough to know Michael for a few years now. I have been that lucky that he has been coaching me on few occasions. This is a huge honor to have such a Lean known figure as a coach.

In all fairness, it can also be quite painful : brutal reality does hurt. Learning is somehow confronting the world, a mess which happens to be much different from the narratives and interpretations that run through our minds. This is why we all need a coach in our thinking process : to make sure we don’t get carried away by our own misconceptions. His last book Lead With Lean is a great help in making our minds clearer about what leadership is in the 21st century.

Michael has made himself available to answer our questions and we are really happy to share this interview here.

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Lead With Lean by Michael Ballé


Michael is a relentless researcher on the topic of Lean. Like other main influencers of this blog, such as Scott Berkun, or Jason Fried & David Heinemier Hansson, his work is priceless in that Michael keeps on going from abstract thinking (reading, studying) to concrete thinking (on the shop floor, with executives, to coach them on their strategy and their everyday problems) and back to abstract thinking (writing) : his thoughts and ideas are always validated or inspired by the reality of every day work.

Lead With Lean is a book which brings together many articles published during the last 5 years, mostly on Planet Lean. Reading these articles separately are enlightening ; reading them together, thanks to the great work by talkative and super smart Roberto Priolo (Planet Lean Chief Editor) who edited the book, is telling in that it shows the amazing strength of Michael thinking on the topic.

All these articles are like practices, a beau geste of describing in many different contexts and from many different perspectives what Lean and Lean Leadership are and why learning from them is so important today. These can also be seen as handles, practical ways of grasping some tough concepts : a very instructive book indeed.

Michael Interview on this book to be published soon … watch this space.

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