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Pitfalls of Lean Management when the world outside is changing fast.

The Dragon of Digitization: A Tale of Foresight and Decision-Making

lean use case Mar 17, 2023

Welcome, dear reader, to a tale of foresight and decision-making that unravels the enigma of the ever-evolving digital world. Prepare yourself for a journey to the heart of a lean company, and the challenges it encounters when faced with the dragon of digitization.

The Lean Pursuit

The year was 2007…

Each day, the diligent executive returned to his office, determined to refine and streamline his company. He envisioned a lean organization, one that thrived on the very essence of efficiency.

Like a body, the company needed to become leaner to be healthy. So the executive denied the company all behaviors except the ones that would strengthen its core.

The executive embarked on a mission to eradicate waste, overburden, and unevenness from the company's core, striving for the ultimate organizational fitness.

As the company hummed with activity, it became a well-oiled machine, each part working tirelessly towards a singular goal: the pursuit of leanness. The company stood as a living testament to the collective wisdom of its dedicated workforce, a beacon of excellence in a competitive world.

The Dragon's Arrival

Precisely at the moment that the leaning was devouring the last bit of company slack, a dragon appeared. It wasn’t paying attention to our thin, bare, shimmer of a company at all. It only cared for its own survival. And it had become quite good at it! A glossy skin made of a light-emitting screen invited everyone to push its attractive, colorful buttons. And when you did, it gave you instant gratification in return. Ahh, the feeling of your insatiable hunger getting fed!

You can imagine that it took hardly a day for all the people in and around the company to become addicted to touching the dragon.

At seven in the morning, they all purchased their own baby dragon. At ten, they all had their little dragons exchange pictures of cats. At two, the dragons laughed hysterically when their owners dropped ice buckets over their heads. Then tea time arrived and with it came the next generation of dragons: much smarter, capable of learning, and with their webbed fingers on everything close to us. At ten in the evening, the world got locked down, and the dragons were invited to take over the final bastions of education and human cooperation.

The clock struck 11, and the executive was getting ready for bed. He laid his little dragon carefully next to him and made sure it had all the fodder it needed to recharge itself during the night ahead. When the executive was satisfied that the dragon was comfortable and happy, he pulled up the covers and let his mind drift.

The Digital Dilemma

Behind his closed eyes, the executive was holding up his company and spinning it around on his index finger.

 

 

At first twirl, its gorgeous muscular body looked polished and primed for the fulfillment of customer needs. It conveyed the essence of the combined years of experience and expertise of all co-workers. It was the embodiment of tried and proven solutions, lean-managed to perfection.

At 5 minutes to 12, the executive was almost asleep. Almost.

Gasping for breath, eyes wide open, sweat breaking out.

A giant hairy “Wait, what?”, was sitting on his chest.

It slapped him in the face, so hard that his cheeks were burning even though there was nobody around to see.

It grabbed him by the throat and cried urgently:

“If the dragons were to develop as fast tomorrow as they did today, can our twiggy-company muster the energy to grab that opportunity? Or even follow the market?”

"CAN WE STILL CHANGE?”, it cried, the question echoing in the darkness.

Epilogue: The Lesson of the Dragon

Disruption, as the executive came to understand, often arises from the periphery of our vision. Though we may observe its emergence, its true impact remains hidden until it reaches a tipping point. By then, opportunities have been squandered, and the cost of adaptation becomes insurmountable.

It is the very expertise that once propelled us to greatness that blinds us to the subtle signs of change. The executive's revelation serves as a reminder that to weather the storm of disruption, we must be willing to adapt and evolve, even in the face of uncertainty.

Dear reader, may this tale inspire you to confront your own dragons and embrace the challenges of the digital age.

Until our paths cross again,

Barbara

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