Toyota, famous for highly reliable cars and in management circles is lauded for their "Lean Production System" approach. It's taken the better part of a couple decades for American companies to figure out exactly what that means. Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but Toyota knew that no matter how many times people toured their operations, they just wouldn't "get it".
So what makes it so compelling?
First of all, it isn't any one thing. It's not:
1. Just in time production
2. Synchronized supply-chains (workflow) inside and outside of the factories
3. Elimination of waste -- overage/overhead and especially human effort
4. Empowered employees who can "pull the chain" if they see defects
It is that -- but its not simply in a set of instructions that they mindlessly follow -- or is it?
What makes Toyota so good at what it does is that it codifies its knowledge in a way that it can be readily understood and more importantly transferred to another person. Its almost like its in their DNA. And that is no accident.
Getting "lean" means not paying for the same knowledge twice.
The K-Brief is a single sheet of paper (A3 size in japan, similar to 11x17 or tabloid size) -- that captures in an appropriate level of detail a problem statement, what is known, and what is not known. Can't fit it all on a single sheet? You've likely got a problem that needs to be further broken down into additional K-Briefs.
The paper size is important (at least to Toyota, where its held with almost reverent devotion) - I have to admit when I was living in Japan I fell in love with an A4 sized graph-paper notebook system by Maruman that I used as both journal and notebook for ideation. The pages were loose-leaf with a 30-square hole punch that fit neatly into a split-comb semi translucent binder. See why I call it a "system" ? It was awesome. I stock up on it whenever I go back (and can find the stuff).
Lately I've been using a simple 'journal style' notebook that's the size of a trade paper back made by Mead (the Academie 6" x 9" Wirebound sketch diary) -- what I like about the size of this notebook is that "seems small" -- portable -- handy -- which means that it travels with me -- readily -- and that makes it available for ideation. It helps with the "yes, and" approach -- building on your own great ideas.
So, today's Big Idea is this: Find the right notebook to capture your big ideas in.
Size, color, weight, style does matter. Spend some time finding one. Browse the shelves of a Barnes&Noble or your favorite book store, artist supply shop, or online. It has to be quest! When you find one that calls to you buy a bunch of them in different colors/covers if possible. Your big ideas need their own spaces to grow in!
For presenters; I happily present my Top ten teaching tips....
1. Start with the basics. Even a 30 second or 1 minute overview will catch everybody up.
2. Don't learn any new technology just before your presentation.
3. Powerpoint? Maybe. Sometimes. A little.
4. Know the 'limits' of your topi.c*
5. teach to multiple learning styles.
6. Tell stories.
7. Use your fear as energy.
8. Demonstrate if possible.
10. Speak up. Can the back of the room hear you?
So, I've talked alot about creating new, fresh to the world ideas. Ways to create them, nurturing ideas, nurturing idea creators and building idea terrific spaces, (more on those later), but when is it it time to quit putting energy into a particular idea?
1. When someone else releases it. Especially if they are months (or years) ahead of you.
2. When you decide it won't actually work.
3. When you run the numbers and discover that while its a good idea, it simply won't actually make any money(*)
4. If a better idea presents itself.
These four should cover many situations. Add yours in the comments
Today's big idea: Sometimes, you should "New Coke" an idea.
* Remembering that making money is just one possible goal. There are many other, worthy reasons for creating, inventing, writing and making...
I have alot of ideas. Gobs of them. This week I'm working on game design, pitching a new script, writing a book, Mac tech support, blogging, learnning about doing stonework, magic, (mixing mortar and such) marketing & learning to cook a turkey. And beyond that, I am still writing down ideas, plots, jokes, designs, names, business models, workshop ideas, character descriptions, snippets, writing advice and texts of things to get to later. That's alot of ideas.
A metaphor, if you will: Imagine I have a roommate who work is a gourmet sandwich shop. At the end of the night he brings me home 5 tasty sandwiches, and I eat one and put 4 in the fridge. He does this every night. I get tasty, and free sandwiches every day...and more for lunch tomorrow. The problem with this situation is that, at the end of the week I have 15 sandwiches; the end of the month 60. More than I can ever eat.
Ideas to me are like sandwiches. I have lots of them. Each one is good but there are many, many more than I could ever use. So I give them away. (I keep a few for lunch, if you'll allow the mixed metaphor.) But the rest? I tell them to friends who can use them, post, share or develop.
Why not sell them?
1. No time. I lack the time to polish, pitch and market 20 'brand new to the world' ideas each week. (70% of my ideas make money, the other 30% are for fun, for me or to help.)
2. Altruism. It feels good to help. Some of my ideas have helped people, their careers, started important groups or just sparked a change.
3. Reputation. If you like my comedy routines this week, you will probably like them next week. And people want, (and pay for) consistency and quality. I post my stuff and let the customers judge its quality.
Seth Godin: "...free ideas spread faster than expensive ones."
4. Idea beget ideas. I've found that more ideas equals even more (and higher quality) ideas. This system means I end up with lots left over.