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Friday, July 29, 2011

A Beginning Step to Co-Creation

You are what you charge for. And if you're competing solely on the basis of price, then you've been commoditized, offering little or no true differentiation. What would your customers really value? Better yet, for what would they pay a premium? Experiences.

Joseph Pine co-author of the book The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage, explains this process in this video. Another video, The Experience Economy Birthday Party provides another excellent example in story form.

I have written two other blog posts, Does your Value Proposition speak of the Customer Experience? and Changing the shape of your marketing funnel! that expands on some of these thoughts.

The Experience Economy description is an excellent introduction to co-creation. It takes us away from the basic thoughts of products and services and moves us into the world of differentiation and uniqueness based on what the customer truly values. And it is not our product and service anymore that the customer values.  It is the USE of our product and service and the resulting benefit of it. Till we start thinking that way, the step to co-creation is probably unobtainable.

Related Information:
A great resource on Co-Creation is Graham Hill.
Marketing with PDCA
Business Processes as Value Networks
Quality and Collaboration eBook
Dr. Jeff Liker on PDCA and Lean Culture

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Will the Mvp crush the Lean Startup?

This seems an appropriate post this week since there was big hullabaloo about a certain App that claimed certain features and did not deliver. If they intended it to be a minimum viable product (Mvp), let’s just say there was more MINIMUM than viable in the product. Though it was discovered and bantered about the Lean community it raised a bigger issue for me. With all the talk of iterative use, fail often and early and MVP being battered about especially in the Lean Startup (term trademarked by Eric Ries) are we forgetting one of the foundational pillars of Lean. That pillar is Respect for People.

The reason I mention the Lean Startup is that I find few in that community firmly rooted in Lean Principles. They look at Lean as meaning a waste reduction process. That reduction meaning their time to market and their time spent on developing product. In fact, at a Lean Startup event in Grand Rapids, Michigan recently, l saw presenters advocating the use of fake web fronts and click buttons into blank spaces all to “test” customer’s responses.

When I think of the term Lean, three things come to my mind: Customer Value, PDCA(Kaizen) and Respect for People. I believe that these are key components of Lean and TPS. Without these the TPS house crumbles. Lean is about delivering Value in the eyes of the customer. Lean is about PDCA not just Do and Adapt. Lean is about Respect not Use.

I believe Eric Ries has made an outstanding contribution to Lean in general and to the field of innovation and startups. In fact, I am a big advocate of his methods. However, the big M (minimum) may cause his house to be short lived as demonstrated by one stray APP developer as he pleaded Kaizen, Iteration and Beta after accepting money and obviously delivering less than a viable product. I feel strongly about the Lean culture that has developed over the years and continues to grow and even take its own life forms such as Agile and the Lean Startup. But as most of us know, it is important to understand and respect our roots. It only makes a stronger in the long run.

To my knowledge this APP Developer has no affiliation with the Lean Startup. My reason for the connection is to demonstrate the bad side as visibly as possible.

Related Information:
Warning: You Can’t Even Draw a Map with this “Value Stream Mapper” App
The 7 step Lean Process of Marketing to Toyota
The New Names of Marketing are still PDCA
Dealing with uncertainty in the Lean Startup
Lean Thinking: Prototype early and often

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Operational Excellence in Government, is it Possible?

When I first listened to Mike George’s Stong America Now program, I thought it was a joke that hardly made any sense. However, I have learned to investigate things that rub me the wrong way initially and many times I have found a little gold in the outcomes. Hundley Elliotte web

One of those outcomes was the opportunity to interview Hundley Elliotte one of the authors of Building High Performance Government Through Lean Six Sigma: A Leader's Guide to Creating Speed, Agility, and Efficiency. What I liked about the book was it really removes the issues about can it be done, it is already being done. In the podcast, we discussed these places and also discussed the how in applying Lean Six Sigma to any public organization.

The authors paint a very clear picture of the role of Lean Six Sigma in Government. It is a very well written book without the statistical jargon so often found in Lean Six Sigma books. I even found certain parts of the book remarkably useful for the private sector.

Download Podcast: Click and choose options: Excellence in Government or go to the Business901 iTunes Store

Hundley M. Elliotte is the global lead for the Process Performance group within the Accenture Process & Innovation Performance service line. He has more than 15 years of consulting experience, focusing on managing business value, setting strategy, identifying customer needs, and identifying and implementing improvement opportunities in diverse business sectors. Previously, Mr. Elliotte worked for more than a decade in the corporate sector, holding sales, marketing and general management positions with a leading pulp and paper manufacturer and with a plastics company. He is based in Atlanta.

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 223,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries.

Read Chapter One, “Building the Anatomy for High Performance”

Read about the Accenture Institute for Health and Public Service.

Related Information:
DMAIC, DMADV, Lean, Six Sigma for Government?
Lean Six Sigma for Government
Lean Six Sigma will increase effectiveness of Stimulus spending
The Hell with the Economic Stimulus Package – I’ll Lead
Balancing Internal and External Lean Six Sigma Consulting Roles

Will Lean Six Sigma work in Government?

A short introduction by Maria Elena-Stopher, describes lean transformation at the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, and shares lessons learned in Lean applied to federal government processes. Full one-hour video is available for purchase through the Maryland World Class Consortia.

Is this process doable on a national level, a lot of people think so. But where would you start…..

Steven C. Wilson one of the leading Lean Six Sigma trainers in Iowa states, "Lean Six Sigma is not a complex process if you understand the theory behind it. But to begin any journey you need a starting point and a solid base of knowledge to provide direction. Leaders do not need to know the intricacies of DMAIC, DMADV and Variation. Leaders do not need to know when to use Binary Logistic Regression. But they do need to know the basics to enable others.”

Steve has just released his first book, Lean Six Sigma for Government.. The book is available on Amazon in print or CD-Rom format. It can also be downloaded as a PDF on

Disclaimer: I work with Steve on a regular basis.

Related Information:
Lean Six Sigma will increase effectiveness of Stimulus spending
The Hell with the Economic Stimulus Package – I’ll Lead
Balancing Internal and External Lean Six Sigma Consulting Roles
Leading the Way in Iowa Quality Training

Empower yourself before the Team

Razi Imam is an accomplished award winning innovator, entrepreneur, and author. He has experience and knowledge of successfully innovating products and services, launching them in competitive markets, and building world-class high-performance teams.

Razi;s new book Driven: A How-to Strategy for Unlocking Your Greatest Potential is discussed in the podcast and you are introduced to a powerful motivational philosophy. I think you will find the podcast a little different than most of mine as we discuss self and team development. Razi is an excellent and captivating speaker. 

Download Podcast: Click and choose options: Empower Yourself or go to the Business901 iTunes Store. Razi Imam

Razi is the founder of a fast growing software company called Landslide Technologies that is receiving rave reviews from customers, analysts and press. His company has been named 'visionary' three years in row by the leading analyst firm - The Gartner Group. He has also recently founded 113 Industries, an industry-driven business incubator focusing on advanced materials. The goal of this incubator is to help breakthrough discoveries in advanced materials coming from our universities, and government labs become viable commercial products.

Related Information:
What will your workplace be like in 2020?
Change Education, Change the Sales Cycle
The Different Levels of Kaizen
Transforming Ordinary Teams to Extraordinary

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kaizen Teams without Kaizen Events

A very different take on Kaizen teams and Kaizen events are expressed in this video. The Friday Video Series continues with Dr. Michael Balle, the Gemba Coach at the Lean Enterprise Institute. This series of videos continues with a central theme of Kaizen.

Dr. Balle is a multiple Shingo Prize winner as an author of the The Gold Mine  and The Lean Manager. His newest Shingo Prize was on the adaption of The Gold Mine: A Novel of Lean Turnaround to an audiobook that features performances by multiple readers who bring its realistic business story and characters to life.

Dr. Michael Balle is the Gemba Coach at the Lean Enterprise Institute

Past Videos with Dr. Balle on the Biz901 You Tube Channel

Related Information:
Sustaining your Kaizen Event Ebook
Holding Successful Kaizen Events Part 3 0f 3
Agile Marketing – Maybe?
Start your Marketing with a User Story
A Hidden Asset of a Kaizen Event

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Can you be Lucky by Design?

Beth Goldstein, Founder and CEO is an author, consultant, trainer and founder of Marketing Edge Consulting Group, she has empowered hundreds of entrepreneurs to successfully grow their companies.  We discussed her newest book, Lucky By Design: Creating Real Opportunities that Empower Your Business coming out this fall.Beth Goldstein Web Image

Beth‘s special talents is helping companies gain an understanding of how their customers think, what they value and what influences their purchasing decisions. She then applies this knowledge to create targeted sales and marketing programs that drive revenue growth while increasing profitability and customer loyalty.

Download Podcast: Click and choose options: Lucky or go to the Business901 iTunes Store

Her first book, The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Toolkit: All the Tips, Forms, and Strategies You'll Ever Need! is used in 30+ cities around the U.S. to teach business owners the critical skills they need to accelerate growth.

Are You Lucky In Business?


(You will be re-directed to Beth’s site.)

Related Information:
Lean Thinking: Prototype early and often
Using the Media Engagement Framework as your Kanban?
What’s behind Collaboration and Value Networks?
Business Processes as Value Networks
The Role of PDCA in a Lean Sales and Marketing Cycle

Using Little Ideas to Achieve Big Things eBook

This is a transcription of the Business901 podcast, Using Little Ideas to achieve Big Things podcast with Peter Sims the author of the book, Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries.

Peter Sims is an author, speaker, and entrepreneur. He was the coauthor with Bill George of the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek bestselling book True North . His articles have appeared in Harvard Business Review, Tech Crunch, The Financial Times, and as an expert blogger for Fast Company.

Using Little Ideas to Achieve Big Things

Related Information:
Improve your Sales Cycle, Work on your Feedback Loops
The Little PDCA Sales Loop
Power of Check = The Pivot in PDCA
Little Bets – The Way to take an Affordable Risk
Does Success Always Start with Failure?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Transforming Ordinary Teams to Extraordinary

Geoff Bellman co-author of Extraordinary Groups: How Ordinary Teams Achieve Amazing Resultswas my guest on the Business901 Podcast. In this book, Geoff and co-author Kathleen Ryan reveal that people instinctively sense when a group experience is something special, something different from the ordinary, something that surpasses their expectations in a positive, remarkable, and hard-to-describe way. Book Cover

In the podcast, I challenged Geoff several times on the touchy, feely aspect of all this and he came back with some good tangible examples. This is one of those books and even the podcast  that can contribute some insight to practically any participant. We discussed how to create an extraordinary groups to achieve outstanding results, one of the key indicators.

Download Podcast: Click and choose options: Ordinary Teams to Extraordinary or go to the Business901 iTunes Store

Geoff has worked inside major corporations for fourteen years before starting his own consulting firm in 1977. His external consulting has focused on renewing large, mature corporations such as Booz Allen & Hamilton, U.S. Bancorp, Verizon, Intuit, Ernst & Young, Shell, Price Waterhouse Coopers, BP, SABMiller, Boeing, and Accenture. He can be found at

Related Information:
Identifying your Lean sales and marketing teams
What will your workplace be like in 2020?
What’s behind Collaboration and Value Networks?
Lean Sales and Marketing Team Roles

Friday, July 8, 2011

Why bother with Value Networks?

Verna Allee, M.A., is Co-founder and CEO of Value Networks LLC, located at Verna was my guest on the Business901 Podcast, What’s behind Collaboration and Value Networks?. We discussed the history of knowledge management and how her work has evolved into value networks. Value Network philosophies also apply to Lean, Agile and into sales and marketing arena. I find this area fascinating as we rid ourselves of hierarchy, positions and titles and delve into that mysterious area of roles!

An excerpt from the transcript:

Verna: What we manage, very simply, are our own roles. So if we look at it from the perspective of "In my role, I manage my inputs and my outputs." When we have a healthy value network, you look at any given role and the number of inputs and outputs are manageable. If it's too much, you've got a problem. You've got a bottleneck; you need to redesign.

There's some kind of a healthy ratio of tangibles and intangibles. When you look at your role, you should be able to say "Oh, that's not so hard. I can do that." If it is overwhelming when you look at it from where you stand in the network, then you probably have some redesigning to do. I always like to say the center of the network is where you are.

You may need to see that larger picture around you. You may need to be able to see out there at the far horizon of the network. But when it comes to practical everyday work, what we manage is simply our own roles. And when people model the network, they negotiate their roles and just what they understand. I don't understand everything about how you play your role, but I can negotiate with you about how you and I interact.

Why bother with Value Networks
View more documents from Joseph Dager.

Value Networks and the true nature of collaboration by Verna Allee with Oliver Schwabe is a digital edition book located at

Related Information:
It’s not your Grandmother’s Lean anymore!
Using Cynefin for a Lean Transformation
Business Processes as Value Networks
The New Knowledge Management Game eBook

What will your workplace be like in 2020?

Jeanne Meister, co-author of The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow's Employees Today discusses how online technologies and the advent of digital and social media are changing the ways in which companies source talent, customize employee development, and promote agile leadership.

In this video Jeanne connects 2020 with TODAY!

The 2020 Workplace is a book that I believe is a must read. Key points are made about having 5 generations in the workplace, reputation management and the role that social media will play internally and externally at your organization. I think one of the key takeaways from the book is the authors’ description of the  social learning ecosystem. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book.

Many of the items mentioned are being used in forward thinking companies already and I believe that you need to be preparing for them now. The authors do outline a strategy on how you can do just that.

Related Information:
Using the Media Engagement Framework as your Kanban?
What’s behind Collaboration and Value Networks?
The New Edge in Knowledge: How Knowledge Management Is Changing the Way We Do Business.
The Subservient Marketing Funnel

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Building a team & Who they Chose

Central is a Research, Design & Development firm based in Sausalito, just over the Golden Gate bridge from San Francisco. They use the design process to tackle complex problems and help transform the way organizations, people and networks look at systems design. These two videos of 20 videos are part of a process they used to assemble a group of people suited to taking on the task of fixing sustainable fishing. 

Building a Team from Central on Vimeo.

The Workshop, Part II: Who we invited and why from Central on Vimeo.

If you are intrigued by the Design Thinking concept these videos represent some real life demonstration of the process. It is not someone just talking about it.

P.S. And there is a lot of personality in the videos. 

Related Information:
Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation
Pair Problem Solving in the Workplace
Business Processes as Value Networks
Lean Sales and Marketing Team Roles
Leading the Way in Iowa Quality Training
Identifying your Lean sales and marketing teams
Asking the right questions about Lean?
Service Design Thinking

Friday, July 1, 2011

Using the wrong set of 5 whys in problem solving

Do you try to quickly to get to why? The purpose of most questioning is to stimulate reflective thinking by probing for needs and concerns. Instead of probing with the 5 why’s try a more subtle approach or architecture for your sales and marketing.

In the paper, The Art and Architecture of Powerful Questions by Eric Vogt, he states that most groups working on this dimension of linguistic architecture produce a variant of the following general hierarchy.

WhyThe general thesis is that virtually any question can be converted into a more powerful question by moving up the pyramid. As an example, consider the following sequence:

  1. Are you feeling okay?
  2. Where does it hurt?
  3. How are you feeling in general?
  4. Why do you suppose you aren't feeling well?

As we move from the simple yes/no question towards the why question, you probably notice that the questions tend to motivate more reflective thinking, and are generally more "powerful.

There are refinements within this dimension of linguistic architecture available to an interested practitioner. For instance, using the conditional tense rather than the present tense will often invite greater reflective speculation:

  • What can we do?

seems to offer fewer possibilities than...

  • What could we do?

I like this architecture because Why is too powerful of a question to start with. Toyota’s, seven step “Practical Problem Solving Process” model encourages you to stay away from why till the fourth step.

  1. Initial problem perception
  2. Clarify the problem
  3. Locate area or point of concern
  4. Investigate root cause (5 Whys)
  5. Countermeasure
  6. Evaluate
  7. Standardize

They actually follow a similar architecture depicted in the triangle above. They used simple closed ended questions to identify and clarify the problem and then locate the area of concern though the 5 whys. Not the 5 Whys of root cause, but the 5 whys of When, Who, Where, Which and What.

The power of the first 5 whys is where the true power of discovery lies. It is the focusing step that provides clarity and provides the basis for agreement. Without these steps irrelevant information may be acted upon and finding agreement on root cause may be difficult. Effective action can only follow clear thinking. Providing a consensus on the point of concern before moving to root cause is imperative.

In the paper cited, author Eric Vogt goes on to state:

The dialogue group concluded that clearly one dimension which defines a

powerful question is this linguistic architecture. However, other factors are also at play when we consider the relative power of the following two questions:

  1. Why is my coat unbuttoned?
  2. Where can we find spiritual peace?

This is an instance where most people would say that the "where" question has somewhat greater power than the "why" question. After reflection, we hypothesized that there were probably three dimensions which define a powerful question: Architecture, Context and Scope.”

The paper is a short and easy read and I encourage you read it in full.

Related Information:
Problem Solving – Think 3, Not 5
Pair Problem Solving in the Workplace
Problem Solving really the Core of Lean Implementation
Quit Brainstorming and start Q-Storming®

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