March is the 2 year anniversary of this blog. It has had a lot of ups and downs, gone through some periods where I did very few updates and considered killing the site altogether, but I am proud to say that I’m still here. To be honest, I couldn’t image NOT writing this blog. It’s one of the most gratifying things I’ve undertaken and continues to be a terrific learning experience as well.
I started the blog about 1 year after my introduction to Lean via a GBMP training class, almost 1/2 finished with an MBA program and, of course, looking to the future and using the blog as a way to grow my network. Two years later, I’ve finished the MBA and have had opportunities to interact with people from many different professions, in a way that is down-to-Earth and honest.
Looking back, a lot of those initial posts aren’t great, but they also aren’t nearly as bad as I thought they were, either. I can point to a few distinct phases in the writings I did over the past couple years that help me remember what things were on my mind and what interested me, personally, professionally, or intellectually. True to the blog’s title, I gave myself permission to meander a bit from subject to subject, and write down my thoughts as I experienced things from day to day.
I’ve discussed Lean a lot on this blog. Lean, you could say, offered me some much-needed evidence that I wasn’t completely out of my mind. What my Lean training showed me was that the things I experienced at work that frustrated me so greatly had been noticed by a great many other people who were passionately working to change them. I attended the 2010 Northeast Shingo Prize conference and heard a talk given by Lesa Nichols on the concepts of mura and muri and the “people side” of lean, which put into my mind that the workplace itself can be, and should be, much more focused on the cares and concerns of the people doing the work. As a result, I have discussed mura and muri on the blog several times since.
I’ve also written a great deal about project management and the dynamics of project teams, which I’ve built up quite a few observations on over the past 12 years or so working in Program Planning & Control. More recently, I’ve been blogging about workplace change, management improvement, Lean and ROWE, in particular. It’s fairly well understood that the typical workplace is broken. The expectations placed on people to live with this broken system are tremendous and unfair. The vast majority of workers are frustrated and hollow – which is no way to live a life. ROWE offers some solutions, but while the concept is enormous, its practical applications across all possible environments is still in its infancy.
Once in a while I talk about family life, too, and I attempt to integrate some of what I’ve learned about project management and Lean into those discussions, too. I find there’s a tremendous amount of insight into just how all these theoretical concepts and tools work when you apply them to something that really matters – like your own family and your household. There’s nothing more salient to me than finding a way to apply what I believe should be the way to do things, intellectually, to the day-to-day concerns that we all have to deal with, emotionally. That’s the true intersection of life and work, in my humble opinion.
There’s more to the Lean and ROWE discussion, however, than just those two concepts. What I see for the blog as I look into the future, is more discussion of Operational Excellence, which includes but is not necessarily limited to Lean, and how those concepts can be applied to the larger concepts of virtual, flexible work. Clearly the world is trending in that direction, with the rise of technology that is enabling greater mobility. The tools and methods that make Lean work so well, however, will need to adapt to this changing workplace.
This changing workplace brings a number of challenges. Management styles will need to adapt, as will working styles. Security concerns are massive, too. Nonetheless, it’s a space not explored in any great depth that I have seen, which appear to make it ripe for the picking.