New book project: “Lean is fun” and the future of business

New book project: “Lean is fun” and the future of business

So, the day has come where I decided to start working on my idea to write a new book.

Since publishing “Leth and kedsomheden” in 2007, I’ve left literature and journalism behind to focus on communication, marketing and business in general.

More and more, I find myself advising clients not just on e.g. digital and marketing strategies, but on many different aspects of business strategy.

Also, I’ve realised that the best way for me to learn is to start a my own micro-quest. To ask a question and seek the answer out there.

So that’s what I plan to do now, and my main question is the following (and yes, it’s very ambitious): “What will the future of business look like?”

And more specifically: “What is the best way to go about business and work in the future?”

I plan to answer this question first and foremost by talking to people, and I plan to do it as a sort of relay.

I start with one idea/question and then try to find the right person(s) to answer it. That will lead to a new question, and a new person to interview.

And so on until I reach a kind of conclusion.

The starting point: “Lean is fun”

While trying to remain as unbiased as possible, it’s also important that I recognise what my starting point is.

At this point in time, my deepest accumulated business experience is that… lean is fun. I think this expression, which I believe I coined myself while working for Maersk, describes both the mindset and the organisational idea needed to thrive in business in the 21st century.

At this point in time, my deepest accumulated business experience is that… lean is fun.

Let me explain. This has to do with two things:

  1. You need to keep it small. You shouldn’t try to grow your business to scale. Instead, use your network or collaborate to scale. I have an idea that large organisations will not survive through this century. They need to profoundly rethink what it means to be an organisation, how to create value, why you want to create value, and what kind of value you want to create.
  2. It has to be fun. Or in some other way it has to engage you deeply. In the future, the motivation will not come from monetary compensation and numbers, but from the actual work. It will be work that you don’t need to do, but you want to do.

Of all the projects I’ve been involved in – directly or indirectly – over the past 10 years, the ones that have really made a difference have all been “lean and fun”.

Often, a few people is doing the actual work anyway, so why not engage these people, let them thoroughly enjoy their work, and then let them lead the project themselves and give them the support they need?

A few words about how I plan to write this book

I might be wrong about all of this. The “lean is fun” experience might be a coincidence. Or we might just be in a phase in business history right now where it makes sense.

Maybe it will not be a winning formula in the future. Even though my gut feeling says it will.

Anyway, I plan to write this book in a “lean is fun” way. Which means that I’ve made a few rules that I will try to stick to:

  1. Don’t overthink it. Just write it down (on this site) while it’s fresh (and sometimes probably a bit naïve).
  2. Just reach out to people. I shouldn’t hold back from contacting “top notch” people, and I (and my readers) really need to learn from these experts. Via my recent membership of the World Economic Forum, it should be easier for me to identify and get in touch with “the right” people.
  3. Spend no more than one hour a day. And do it mostly at night, between 9-10pm. This is not a full-time project. It easily could be, but by applying my “lean is fun” methodology I don’t need to spend that much time on it. And so I can continue focusing on Wichmann/Schmidt full-time (which is a “lean is fun” business, I think you could say).
  4. If nothing happens, let nothing happen. I won’t spend an hour every night if I don’t bother too. I need to be in the mood or have set up a call or similar.
  5. Just share it and see what happens. And just to set expectations: in the beginning not much will happen as we’re all drowning in information overload, and many even struggle to stay focused on “voluntary duties” for more than 5 mins at a time.
  6. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I will do some proof-reading, of course. But there will be many errors and that is perfectly ok. I like errors and imperfection. Accepting that it’s not supposed to be perfect is both liberating and will often turn out to be fruitful.

So what’s next?

Well, that is a good question, but not the question…

We all know that everything is changing. CEOs do too, probably more than anyone else.

In recent years we’ve seen the emergence of a long list of new management buzzwords aimed at describing (and defining) the future of management and business.

Terms like “agile”, “prototyping”, “purpose”, “autonomy”, “lean” (which doesn’t mean “fun” to very many people) and so on.

But to understand the future you need to understand the past. So first, I want to go back a bit and capture the essential business lessons that we can learn from business history, and which will still be relevant in the future.

So that is the question for me right now: “What can we learn from business history?”

I plan to interview e.g. a professor in business history on this topic. And maybe others too. Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions as to who I should talk to.

Adieu!

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