Maret 31, 2011

The Evolution of Lean

Here's an interesting slides from Mike Rother - one of the most prominent experts in Toyota Way.

Problemo Solved!

This is a scene from Madagascar 2. Very hilarious!

I like this scene. It is funny, but it is most interesting to watch the penguins identify an anomaly (red light blinking), work the logic to solve it (a bulb is blinking, usually indicates a malfunction) - and solve the wrong problem (smash the bulb)! They solved the symptom of the problem, but did not get to the real root cause. They then finally realized the real problem only when it had propagated to an obvious, monstrous problem.

Have we done crash landing before? I sure have. More reason to understand and build our organizational learning capability.

Maret 30, 2011

We are Just Not That Good

During my engagement as a management consultant, I often heard the following statement: "Your theory is good and logical. But we just don't have the resource to be *that* good." or "We just cannot be that creative, we cannot change." (we cannot learn).

Sometimes I manage to give them a different perspective and they realize that this kind of statement is very dangerous to be accepted and instilled as the organizational mantra. Not to mention that it is far from the truth.

Sometimes they can't get such perspective.

How Do You Define Your Problem?

Last week I was involved in an interested conversation with one of my business partners (yes, that's what I called my clients).

The conversation goes like this:

Me: "So, Mr. A, during this operational strategic meeting, we need to come up with our goals for the rest of 2011. Can we first start by identifying areas of pain?"

Mr. A: "Our material cost is too high. We need to drive it down by, I don't know... 10%"

Me: "Allright, that might be a good top level goal. Let's break it down. Mr. B, what are the contributing factors of cost?"

Mr. B: "Price".

How LONG Does It Take?

This is an interesting story. In the early days of sea voyages, a significant cause of death in the sea is a disease now called scurvy. It is even more significant than accidents, combats, storms, and other things. For example, only one third of Vasco da Gama's crew was able to make it to India alive in 1499. What happened to the other two third? Scurvy.

One would think that such a big issue must have attracted a lot of attention and therefore it must have been solved immediately by all means and resources. Here's how we finally came up with the solution:
1536 - Jacques Cartier saved his crews who were dying of scurvy by making a tea from the leaves of evergreen tree. He was advised by the natives of America to do this.
1617 - John Woodall wrote a book that described the curative and preventive effects of lemons.
1753 - James Lind published his experiment and concluded the importance of citrus fruits for sea travels.

Cycle of Poverty

I recently read in Wikipedia:

The cycle of poverty has been defined as a phenomenon where poor families become trapped in poverty for at least three generations. These families have either limited or no resources. There are many disadvantages that collectively work in a circular process making it virtually impossible for individuals to break the cycle. This occurs when poor people do not have the resources necessary to get out of poverty, such as financial capital, education, or connections. In other words, poverty-stricken individuals experience disadvantages as a result of their poverty, which in turn increases their poverty. This would mean that the poor remain poor throughout their lives. This cycle has also been referred to as a "pattern" of behaviors and situations which cannot easily be changed. (source:

This is yet another vicious cycle that entraps many people to their current state of misfortune. While the government has tried many relief programs as an effort to break this cycle, it is surprising to see that the result of such program is very limited.