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What is 5S? (or 6S?) Become a Ninja at organising with this Japanese Methodology

Where there is no Standard there can be no Continuous Improvement.

Taiichi Ohno

The Five S (5S) methodology is a tactical framework used in Lean Organisations to organise the workplace be it a desk drawer or the whole production floor. The goal is to have even something as mundane as a paper clip organised as per the 5S. And it’s not limited to the organisation of physical objects but can be equally applied to digital assets. This framework emerged as an integral part of the Toyota Production System post World War II.

Lean manufacturing involves the use of many tools … 5S is considered a foundational part of the Toyota Production System because until the workplace is in a clean, organized state, achieving consistently good results is difficult. A messy, cluttered space can lead to mistakes, slowdowns in production, and even accidents, all of which interrupt operations and negatively impact a company.

5stoday.com

5S consists of 5 Japanese Words:

1. 整理(せいり、Seiri)Sort

Throw away superfluous things (put down seldom used ones,…)

2. 整頓(せいとん、Seiton)Set in order.

Every tool must have its designed place and be returned to that place after use.

3. 清掃(せいそう、Seisou) Sweep/Shine.

Clean, clean and clean.

4. 清潔(せいけつ、Seiketsu)Standardize.

If you make any change in the workplace, make sure it is easy to follow by making a standard, or rule.

5. 躾(しつけ、Shitsuke) Sustain.

Build a culture of sustainable change.

Safety the 6th S

As 5S went to the west the 6th S of Safety was added. to the standard 5S methodology. This essential step of 6S focuses on identifying hazards and setting preventive controls to keep workers safe during work operations and ensure that the work environment meets required safety standards.

5 S Example
Source: J. BERENGUERES’ THE BROWN BOOK OF DESIGN THINKING

My Personal Experience with 5S

Standards should not be forced down from above but rather set by the production workers themselves.

Taiichi Ohno

This is one of the most important points. A few years back when I was working on the production floor, there was a cabinet in our office for Personal Protection Equipment. My predecessor organised it by type. So we had gloves with gloves, masks with masks etc. But when that responsibility was handed over to me I quickly realised that it wasn’t the best way, either the production demands had changed or my predecessor didn’t notice it, whatever the reason but I saw that there was more frequent demand for particular types of masks, gloves and other protective gear and less demand for others.

Due to that, the machine operators had to frequently kneel (or bend) down or move across different shelves to get their gear for the day, sometimes twice a day (before and after lunch break), since much of it was disposable. Also frequent kneeling down or bending down can lead to hazards due to unnatural positions the body has to take and obscurity could cause accidents. For example, someone might not see the leg of the operator kneeling down (since his body is covered behind the doors of the cabinet) and could accidentally trip over it.

Hence I decided to reorganise it as per the demand, with things in the highest demand being on the topmost shelf and so on. And it made the whole thing a lot quicker, safer and more efficient. It further helped us monitor the PPE stock better. We could reorder the high demand items more frequently and there was never a day that operator didn’t have the protection he needed.

I am not sharing this to claim “Look! I am so smart!” but because this proves Taiichi Ohno’s point and also teaches us that once something is standardised is not something set in stone forever but it only serves as a basis for continuous improvement as stated in the quote at the beginning of this article.

DONT WORRY BE CRAPPY: How to use MVP to build successful products!

DONT WORRY BE CRAPPY: How to use MVP to build successful products!

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day, But They Were Laying Bricks Every Hour.

Design is a highly iterative process, you really can’t plan it because it’s not linear, it evolves through each trial, failure, customer input, ideation, iteration, challenge etc. it’s like jazz, you can’t set the design process into stone because it’s all about the live improvisation in response to everything that goes on around it. Hence it’s always a good idea to not design something completely isolated from the environment, from the end-user because good design feeds off the consumer input as much as a jazz performer feeds off the energy in the room.

I’ve borrowed the title of the post from Guy Kawasaki, evangelist, author, speaker and one of the original Apple employees responsible for marketing the line of Macintosh computers in 1984.

The first step in launching a company is not to fire up Word, PowerPoint, or Excel. There’s a time for using these applications, but it’s not now. Instead, your next step is to build a prototype of your product and get it to customers. I call this, “Don’t worry, be crappy”—inspired by Bobby McFerrin’s song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

Guy Kawasaki

Eric Ries, the author of The Lean Startup, calls this the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Ries explains the MVP concept in this way:

“It is not necessarily the smallest product imaginable, though; it is simply the fastest way to get through the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop with the minimum amount of effort. . . . The goal of the MVP is to begin the process, not end it.”

Kawasaki adds two words to MVP and transforms it to MVVVP: Minimum Viable Valuable Validating Product.

First, the product can be viable—able to get through the feedback loop and make money—but that’s not enough. He says: “It should also be valuable in that it jumps curves, makes meaning and changes the world. Let’s aim high!”

Second, the product should also validate the vision of your startup. Otherwise, you may have a viable and valuable product (which is good) but not necessarily one that validates the big picture of what you’re trying to achieve.

But this is not really a new concept. It goes back to Walter A. Shewhart and W. Edwards Deming. In fact, Ries’s Build-Measure-Learn is just a variation Shewhart or Deming cycle called PDSA or PDCA which transformed Japanese Manufacturing post World War II. PDSA is a loop of 4 phases: Plan, Do, Check/Study and Act.

1. Plan = Think of one potential improvement

2. Do = Try it

3. Study= Measure and study the “effects” of change

4. Act = Adjust. Evaluate. Fully implement the proposed change OR discard the change.

5. Go to step 1 and repeat the cycle.

Get Unstuck! Seek Progress! Not Perfection!

Whether you call it BML or PDSA, we are essentially talking about a problem-solving process intended to drive continuous improvement in a Lean Organisation that truly improves the problem-solving abilities of the practitioners and helps in cultivating a learning and experimental mindset which allows the practitioners to see the problem as a learning opportunity and solution as a hypothesis to be tested and validated. If there’s no interest in the solution then the start-up can “pivot” by changing one or more hypotheses and come to a better solution.

It also helps the team get the ball rolling and continuously learn and improve instead of waiting for a perfect or ideal solution which is usually delayed hence rendered useless in a constantly changing market and user needs.

Kawasaki gives us an example:

“For example, the first iPod was not only a viable product (early to market and profitable); it was also valuable (the first way to legally and conveniently buy music for a handy device) and validating (people wanted elegant consumer devices and Apple could transcend selling only computers and peripherals).
NOTE WELL: this is not permission to ship a piece of crap. Here’s a good test: Imagine your product is a new car. Would you let your kids ride in it? If you don’t have kids, then your golden retriever.”

The right and wrong way to build an MVP (Courtesy: Fast Monkeys)

So if you’re a designer or entrepreneur don’t work about being perfect before showing or shipping the product, just make it good enough, test, listen to feedback, learn, and improvise on the go.

We need more Leaders. Management is NOT Leadership

We need more Leaders. Management is NOT Leadership

Leadership is a choice. It’s not a rank, it’s a choice. I know many people who are at the top of their organization who have authority. We have to do what they say because they have authority over us. But they’re not leaders. We wouldn’t follow them. They may be at the top of the company but they’re not leaders.

Simon Sinek

We need more Leaders and management is NOT Leadership. When I hear the word Management it sort of reminds me of Charlie Chaplin’s classic movie”Modern Times”, maybe because of my experience on the production floor but also because over the years what I have seen being done in the name of management is a massive “Mismanagement”.

Now coming back to the topic. Management is about manipulating the resources in the right way to get a known job done. Restaurant owners hire managers, Celebrities have managers, McDonald’s franchises hire Managers too. Managers know exactly what they need to deliver, the process is already well established and standardised and they are given resources to do it at a low cost. Managers manage a process they’ve seen before, and they react to the outside world, striving to make that process as fast and as cheap as possible.

Here’s a scene from Modern Times (1936)

A thesaurus may suggest that the best synonym for leadership is management. Maybe it used to be but it no longer is. Leadership is not management. Leadership is all about, bringing about a change that you believe in. Leaders create a cause and causes make things happen. Leaders have followers. Managers have employees. Managers make widgets. Leaders make a change.

Why do we need a Change? Isn’t it scary? No, It’s scary to not change. So here we are. We live in a world where we have the power to make things happen, the ability to do work we believe in, and the marketplace is begging us to be unique, remarkable, to be a unicorn. And yet, we are stuck. Stuck following archaic rules. Even in our personal lives, we have to obey archaic laws: Go to school. Get a Job. Get Married. Have Children. Retire. Wait for death. But it doesn’t stop there we are stuck in industries that not only avoid change but actively fight it. Stuck in fear of what our parents, neighbours, society and boss will say, designers are stuck too, we design stuff that’s not sustainable and it’s destroying the planet for the sake of industrial greed, bankers are stuck and shackled to satisfy the Wall Street.

We are stuck because we’re afraid we’ll get into trouble. Most of all, we’re stuck acting like managers or employees, instead of like the leaders we could become. We resemble a factory instead of a community. That’s one more reason why this whole topic reminds me of Modern Times. The Fear of change in a mega factory is appropriate where standardisation is the key to efficiency and synchronicity and that saves the day. But again what does Darvin say about those who don’t evolve? Let me whisper it to you: they perish”. Today the fear of change has become our enemy; it’s now the thing standing in the way.

“How was your day?” is a question that matters a lot more than it seems. It turns out that the people who like their jobs the most are also the ones who are doing the best work, making the greatest impact, and changing the most. Changing the way they see the world, sure, but also changing the world. By challenging the status quo, a cadre of heretics is discovering that one person, just one, can make a huge difference.

Seth Godin

Leadership is about belief in an idea and in creating a cause and a community around it. Do you believe in what you do? Every freaking day? It turns out that belief happens to be a brilliant strategy. A community feeds on the beliefs, persona and the standard the leader sets and expresses for himself in his thoughts, words and deeds. He has nothing else. He doesn’t pay someone to follow him. He doesn’t have the sceptre of threat that the manager exploits.

This global pandemic has shown to us three very important things:

1. Many people are starting to realize that they work a lot, often without any job security and benefits and that working on stuff they believe in (and making things happen) is much more satisfying than just getting a paycheck and waiting to get fired (or die).

2. Many organizations have discovered that the factory-centric model of producing goods and services is not nearly as profitable as it used to be. Furthermore treating employees like emotionless robots is not going to work anymore.

After the Great Resignation in the USA, where 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August 2021, across an array of industries, according to a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration, tells TIME. “[Employees] don’t want to return to backbreaking or boring, low wage, sh-t jobs. Workers are burned out. They’re fed up. They’re fried. In the wake of so much hardship and illness and death during the past year, they’re not going to take it anymore.”

3. Many consumers have decided to spend their money buying things that aren’t mass-produced commodities, to support the producers, creators and issues they care about, to spend their time and money on fashion, on stories, on things that matter to them, and on things, they believe in.

It’s simple: there are tribes everywhere now, inside and outside of organizations, in public and in private, in nonprofits, in classrooms, across the planet. Every one of these tribes is yearning for leadership and connection. This is an opportunity for you—an opportunity to find or assemble a tribe and lead it. The question isn’t, Is it possible for me to do that? Now, the question is, Will I choose to do it?

Seth Godin

The boom in the usage of social media channels, combined with the increased leverage of individuals within organizations as well as within society, makes it possible for just about anyone to influence just about everything. Everyone can be a leader. Everyone can lead someone with their example, stories, experiences, products, humour, conduct, hobbies, art, interests etc. This means that anyone who wants to make a difference, can! Without leaders, there are no followers. You’re a leader! We need you! And if you like, you can start leading by sharing this article with someone you think could benefit from it. Namaste 🙏.

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4Ps of Marketing

4Ps of Marketing are basic framework that helps you to Position Your Product or Service within the market

The 4Ps of Marketing synchronises the product, the price, the place, and the promotion when a product or service is to be launched into the market. It was created by Neil Borden in the 1950s to illustrate the ways companies use advertising and marketing techniques to convert potential buyers into paying customers.

The four Ps stand for:

  1. Product
  2. Price
  3. Promotion
  4. Place

Product

Product refers to the good/s and service/s you offer. What needs does this product satisfy? What pain points or frustrations does it address? What is your value proposition? What makes it compelling to customers? What are the key features? How does this product affect your brand?

Keywords:

Product

Features

Brand

Packaging

Price

Price is the monetary sum customers are willing to pay for a product or service and it takes into account the cost of production. What is the value of the product or service to customers? Are there established price points for this product or service in the market? How will this price compare with competitors? Do you provide financing options?

Keywords:

Price

Discounts

Bundling deals

Credit terms

Promotion

Promotion is how you will get the word out about your product or service to your target customers. It includes advertising, public relations, and promotional strategies.

Keywords:

Ads

PR

Social Media

Influencers

website

SEO

Email

Video

Place

Place refers to how and where your customers will be able to see your product or service. It also considers how you will deliver the product or service to them. Will it be in a physical store or online? What will be the distribution channels?

Keywords:

Stores

Dealerships

Franchisees

Online Marketplace

Affiliates

If you liked this post then leave a comment and share it with your fellow entrepreneurs and loved ones. Sharing is caring 😊.

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6 Management Myths & Alternate Maxims by Jeanne Ledika

These Six Management Myths to Avoid (and Six Alternate Maxims to Consider) are the courtesy of Jeanne Ledika of Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. These are classic management adages and tenets which don’t work anymore because things are so dynamic these days and their modern alternatives. I first read them in a free pdf by Darden Executive education but the pdf is no longer available (wasn’t the last time I checked) and these maxims are just too precious to be buried under the currents of time and change. So I am sharing them here.

Myth 1: Think big.

Better maxim 1: Be willing to start small — but with a focus on meeting genuine human needs.

Pressure will always exist to be sure an opportunity is big enough, but most really big solutions began small and built momentum. When the Internet was still new, how seriously would you have taken eBay or PayPal? In an earlier era, FedEx seemed tailored for a niche market. To seize growth opportunities, starting small and finding a deep, underlying human need with which to connect is best.

Myth 2: Be bold and decisive.

Better maxim 2: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket — always explore multiple options.

In the past, business cultures were dominated by competition metaphors (those related to sports and war being the most popular). During the 1980s and 1990s, mergers and acquisitions lent themselves to conquest language. Organic growth, by contrast, requires a lot of nurturing, intuition and a tolerance for uncertainty

Myth 3: Don’t ask a question to which you don’t know the answer.

Better maxim 3: Be willing to start in the unknown and learn.

Pressure will always exist to be sure an opportunity is big enough, but most really big solutions began small and built momentum. When the Internet was still new, how seriously would you have taken eBay or PayPal?

Myth 4: Measure twice, cut once.

Better maxim 4: Place small bets fast.

This one works fine in an operations setting, but when the goal is creating an as-yet-unseen future, there isn’t much to measure. And spending time trying to measure the unmeasurable offers temporary comfort but does little to reduce risk.

Myth 5: Sell your solution. If you don’t believe in it, no one will.

Better maxim 5: Choose a worthwhile customer problem, and consider it a hypothesis to be.

When you are trying to create the future, knowing when you have it right is difficult. We think being skeptical of your solution is fine — what you should be certain of is that you’ve focused on a worthy problem. You’ll iterate your way to a workable solution in due time.

Myth 6: If the idea is good, the money will follow.

Better maxim 6: Provide seed funding to the right people and problems, and the growth will follow.

Managers often look at unfunded ideas with disdain, confident that if the idea were good, it would have attracted money on its own merits. The truth about ideas is that we don’t know if they are good; only customers know that. Gmail sounds absurd: free email in exchange for letting a software bot read your personal messages and serve ads tailored to your apparent interests. Who would have put money behind that? The answer, of course, is Google.

Source: The Essential Guide to Design Thinking by Professor Jeanne Liedtka. Darden Executive education. If you like this post, make sure you leave a heart (like), comment and share with your loved ones so they can benefit from this too. Sharing is Caring 🤗❤️.

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3 Innovation Myths you must Overcome NOW

Three Innovation Myths you must Overcome urgently are as follows but before going there we must reinterpret what innovation means. And I’ll keep it short and sweet.

The First thing to understand is that “Any successful innovation is actually a business model innovation”

According to the Business Model Innovation Lab:

“Innovation is about learning from others and reinventing your own business model.”

What’s a business model? A business model is a company’s core strategy for profitably doing business. Greater value can be captured by looking at the four components of a business model simultaneously viz who are you selling to? What do you sell? How do you create and deliver it? Why it is commercially viable?

A business model innovation can be achieved by modifying any two of these four dimensions. Now let’s move to the myths as promised

Myth #1: Innovation stems from novel ideas!

One of the greatest pieces of advice when it comes to innovation is to “Overcome the ‘not invented here’ syndrome.”

Google didn’t invent search engines, IBM didn’t invent computers, Apple didn’t invent the mp3 player, Amazon didn’t invent online book stores, Facebook didn’t invent social media.

Yet all these were successful because they understood people hence the business model better and learned from the mistakes of their predecessors.

Myth #2: Big success requires, big resources!

Big resources don’t make big companies! Cisco had a non-existent R&D resource but they were able to beat AT&T’s Bell Labs. When Elon Musk was asked how they learned to make rockets at SpaceX he replied he read many books on rocket design. Apple was started in Steve’s parent’s garage.

Myth #3: Innovations are based on revolutionary technology!

According to the study conducted by BMI Lab: 90% of successful tech corporations merely adapted, refined or combined existing ideas and business models. Only 10% or less were based on disruptive technological breakthroughs. Successful innovators learn & recombine whereas pioneers get eaten by wolves. To start something that’s not even remotely close to something existing or previously tried is one sure way to flop the business.

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Your 1000 True Fans (or just 💯 ?)

The ability to influence people without irritating them is the most profitable skill you can learn.

Napoleon Hill

A thousand true fans is all you need out of nearly 8 billion people in the world

The problem with most entrepreneurs and startups is that they want the internet but they want the whole of it. They try to replicate or reinvent models of companies like Facebook, Apple, Google etc. But these are outliers and they were able to capture that market size because the internet was a relatively new thing.

Now internet is relatively mature and even such corporations are having trouble retaining users. But this is not something to be disappointed about, no one can have the whole of the internet but everyone can have a little piece of it, and even a little piece is big enough for most individuals and companies. Think about it? If you could make around $100,000 doing the thing you love to do, how would you feel? And 1000 true fans is the way you do it, it is feasible and hundreds of thousands of individuals have done it.

To be clear this is a standalone article however it continues and builds upon the things I’ve shared in some of my previous articles, particularly How to build an Authentic Brand? and Caring is the best marketing strategy. So if you are really interested in this topic and need deeper insights into this post go and check those articles too.

When we put the needs of people first and show them our real authentic self, people can see us for who we are and when we share our story, they relate to it and even become encouraged to tell their story. That builds a bond, that builds influence. And when people know us, some of them love us (not all but that’s good know why?) and when they do they’d do anything for us. And we just have to ask. We just need a thousand people who genuinely love our work or personality in the world of nearly 8 billion people

It’s scary when we have expectations and responsibilities on our shoulders. But it’s the only way to get paid for doing what we love and would secretly do for free anyway. So wouldn’t it be amazing to get paid for that?

If you want to help others and become a person of influence, keep smiling, sharing, giving, and turning the other cheek.

John C Maxwell

When we genuinely care about people, people genuinely care about us.

More than a decade ago, Wired editor Kevin Kelly wrote an essay called “1,000 True Fans,” predicting that the internet would allow large swaths of people to make a living off their creations, whether an artist, musician, author, or entrepreneur.

To be a successful creator you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers, millions of clients or millions of fans. To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur, or inventor you need only thousands of true fans.

Kevin Kelly

Rather than pursuing widespread celebrity status, he argued, creators only needed to engage a modest base of “true fans”—those who will “buy anything you produce”—to the tune of $100 per fan, per year (for a total annual income of $1,00,000). I believe that $1,00,000 is a very comfortable living for most people especially if you earn that while doing what you love. By embracing online networks, he believed creators could bypass traditional gatekeepers and middlemen, get paid directly by a smaller base of fans, and live comfortably off the spoils.

However, in reality, the maths of this isn’t this straightforward and that’s for good. This is why, if you leverage the concept of value ladder and create an end to end product ecosystem then you could actually make the conversion from fans to customers much more gradual and non-linear.

This means you have different segments of consumers, firstly there are those who simply consume your content, a second group could be those who are still testing the waters, the like you but may not pay you $100 per year and then you have people just what you do so much that who might be willing to pay more than $100 say $500 or even $1000 if you could provide them with some value.

Then you don’t even need 1000 True Fans. You could do with just 100 True Fans and on top of that you might have a few dozen who like you and would spend a modest amount to support you and they’re already ready to become the True Fans if you underprice and over-deliver just one product. I will soon publish an article on this so stay tuned!

What are your thoughts on this post? Let me know in the comments below. If you enjoyed the post then do share it with your loved ones, after all, sharing is caring.