Welcome to volume 3 of our just-in-time roundup! Our goal with these lists of articles? Very simply, it’s to make the work (and potential work) of the larger lean community more visible. Check out these 5 recently published articles you may have missed and let us know what you think. What else have you been reading and sharing with your colleagues lately? Let us know in the comments below.
1. Bring Agile to the Whole Organization, by Jeff Gothelf in Harvard Business Review
Many of us still think of Agile as a methodology only applicable to software professionals. Jeff Gothelf argues, “We are all in the ‘software business’ now, regardless of the product or service we provide, forcing us to reexamine how we structure and manage our organizations.” Acknowledging this (and learning from what agile has to teach us about how we work), Gothelf argues for leaders to take a fresh look at their management systems, how they work with agile teams, and how they support team members whatever their area. This article is chock full of lean ideas, but it’s also full of valuable insights Gothelf has picked up over time working as a product designer and lean user design specialist/coach.
2. How to Deploy Hoshin Kanri Successfully, by Wiebe Nijdam in Planet Lean
In this article, Wiebe Nijdam, Director of Lean Management Instituut in The Netherlands, breaks down hoshin kanri (aka strategy deployment) for lean practitioners needing more guidance on the topic and for those of us who may or may not know what hoshin kanri is. Nidjam covers the purpose of hoshin kanri (in short, organizational alignment), how it works, where to start, how to measure “success”, and what to do when problems crop up. Still confused? Nidjam’s included lots of visuals to show you exactly what he’s talking about when he talks about hoshin kanri and suggests you create your own visuals, too.
3. Blood, Simpler, by Ken Auletta in The New Yorker
Elizabeth Holmes, the 30 year old CEO of Theranos, may have just revolutionized the blood testing industry. After identifying a few major problems with blood testing (tests are too costly, they’re inconvenient, they involve unpleasant syringes) and thinking ahead to what easier, more accessible blood testing would mean for preventing illnesses and detecting illnesses earlier, Holmes has a built a cutting-edge technology company that puts testing in the hands of the patient. Auletta’s feature on Holmes tells us as much about Holmes as it does Theranos and her business philosophy, too – helping us understand something about what kind of leadership is required for innovating products/services and upending entire industries in such a fundamental way.
4. How Bob McDonald Can (Really) Fix the VA’s Healthcare System, by Steven Spear in Fortune
Earlier this year Bob McDonald was appointed to head up the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, an organization struggling with problems like long patient wait times and alleged manipulation of records. To lead most effectively, Steven Spear says, McDonald has to change the way the VA understands and measures performance. “The metrics that former administrators focused on pushed people in the direction of highlighting (sometimes exaggerating) what was going right and playing down what was going wrong,” he writes. Spear, Senior Lecturer at MIT and longtime member of the lean community, suggests McDonald and his team learn from the healthcare community about how to solve complex, systemic problems. We like this article for many reasons, but also because of how precisely Spear articulates the real challenge ahead for McDonald: “moving a large system a long way so it can better serve the needs of those who depend on it.”
5. There’s a Better Way to Board Planes, by Jason Steffen in The Atlantic
It’s holiday season, aka travel season for many of us, and we all know how the airplane boarding process is. We also all have ideas about how to improve it, as Danielle Blais has written about here on the Post. In this article, Jason Steffen, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Northwestern, explains his strategy for boarding planes most efficiently. Think he’s figured out? If so, how would you implement such a process?