Small Giants

Small Giants

Summary
  People who learn principles from the leaders and companies profiled in Jim Collin’s book Good to Great sometimes wonder if the lessons from large, publicly owned companies translate to their small businesses. For example, it may be hard to “fire bullets, then cannonballs” when you only have a three-person team! Author Bo Burlingham wrote Small Giants: Companies That Choose to be Great Instead of Big as a study of smaller companies and their leaders. He interviewed many leaders from private businesses featured in his magazine over the years and shares what makes them different – and better than – their peers. These entrepreneurs aren’t focused on the idea of an IPO or acquisition, they are committed to building an exceptional business using other measures.   Bo Burlingham Author Bo…
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Great by Choice

Great by Choice

Summary
Authors Jim Collins (Good to Great and Built to Last) and Morten Hansen compare another set of companies to learn what differentiates the great. This time the research focuses on the question: “Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and some do not?” The nine-year research project forms the basis of their 2011 book, Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All. This post summarizes four key choices made by leaders of the best companies (defined as companies that beat their industry indexes by at least 10X over 15 years) that challenge conventional wisdom. You may be surprised to learn that the “10X” companies: Were not more risky, visionary, or creative than their counterparts Focused more on scaling innovation than innovation by itself Changed…
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Setting Objectives: Measure What Matters

Setting Objectives: Measure What Matters

Lesson
Learn how to write SMART goals and the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) method of setting objectives from the book Measure What Matters. As we approach the end of the year, it is a great time to review best practices for setting new objectives.   This post will cover: how to write SMART goals, the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) method of management, tips from the book Measure What Matters, how OKRs and KPIs are related, and setting objectives for personal kaizen. We also have a special BONUS OFFER at the end of the post. Connect with us to learn Google's 5 OKR traps to avoid.   SMART Goals We always recommend individuals and organizations set SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for: S = Spe­cif­ic. Be precise in the…
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Green and Clean: Servant Leadership

Green and Clean: Servant Leadership

Lesson
This past month has been a busy one for Lean East with several new clients. As I reflect on lessons from the past month to blog about, one theme has come up several times in my discussions with top executives. The discussion goes something like this:   Executive: “I don’t think this employee is going to work out.” Me: “What is the issue?” Executive: “I’m hearing complaints from the team about this employee. He/she isn’t keeping up with the work. When I look into their projects they are often falling behind.” Me: “What is the employee's expectation and how is it measured?” Executive: “They know they have to keep up and be responsive. When I sent the employee an email to ask about a recent issue they didn’t even email…
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The Infinite Game

The Infinite Game

Summary
This month we summarize the 2019 book The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. This is Sinek’s third book and follows the 2014 bestseller, Leaders Eat Last. There are two kinds of games. Finite games have known players and fixed rules. As I write this sentence, I am watching the finite game of football. The game has two known teams pitted against one another with referees enforcing the rules. One team will win the game by having scored more points as the time expires. Infinite games are played by known and unknown players. There are no agreed-upon rules, and no finish line or clock signaling the end of the contest. There is, therefore, no way to “win” an infinite game; the best you can do is keep playing. Sinek notes that…
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Leadership Lessons from Extreme Ownership

Leadership Lessons from Extreme Ownership

Summary
This post shares the lessons from the 2015 book Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Willink and Babin were Navy SEALs who led the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq war. The book demonstrates how SEAL leadership principles and the concept of "extreme ownership" apply to business. Each chapter describes a situation from the war in Iraq in the insurgent occupied Ramadi where Babin led a unit that reported to Willink. Stories from the battlefield demonstrate each principle, then the authors define the principle and share an example from a business situation that further demonstrates the principle. Many of the principles are well covered in other leadership books, but several are lesser-known. This post will describe the leadership…
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Develop Scientific Thinking with Lean Kata

Develop Scientific Thinking with Lean Kata

Lesson
This month we are happy to share a simple yet powerful tool that will benefit any organization. It is the Lean Kata approach for developing a culture of scientific thinking at all levels of any organization.     What does the word “kata” mean? Kata is the Japanese word for “form” and refers to a detailed, choreographed pattern of movements practiced alone or in groups. Anyone who has ever practiced the martial arts has performed katas in front of a sensei to advance and earn additional belts. The kata allows the trainee to memorize and perfect the movements being executed so they can easily make the movements later using muscle memory. The Lean Kata was developed by Toyota and has been well described in the Mike Rother book, Toyota Kata:…
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Ideas for Action from The Culture Code

Ideas for Action from The Culture Code

Summary
  Daniel Coyle wrote the bestselling book The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups in 2018 as a follow-up to his bestselling book The Talent Code. Both books are well researched and highly recommended reads by Lean East. This post summarizes several of the “ideas for action” from the book into a basic leadership action plan.   The Culture Code Culture is not something you are, it is something you do. Coyle focuses on three keys to building a cohesive, motivated culture – build safety, share vulnerability and establish purpose. The book shares his research on each of these areas and each section has ideas any leader can implement to improve their organization’s culture. Below are 20 ideas you can begin implementing today. Please share with others and…
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Lean and Agile – Ideas that Work Together

Lean and Agile – Ideas that Work Together

Lesson
Lean East shares five similarities between Lean and Agile Readers of our blog will be familiar with Lean fundamentals. Many of you have completed improvement projects or attended workshops such as our ‘Introduction to Lean Thinking’ course. Readers of our blog are past or current clients, or people we have connected with in LinkedIn Groups (we recommend Lean Six Sigma and Operational Excellence as great sources of information and energy). Likewise, many of our readers will know that the goal of Lean is to maximize customer value by minimizing non-value-added “waste” in processes. Lean changes the focus of management from optimizing separate technologies, assets, and vertical departments to optimizing the flow of products and services across technologies and departments. But what about Agile? Some members of our community have started to hear the whispering of ‘Agile’…
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