Thursday, April 17, 2014

What’s the next big thing?

By Al Norval

I was travelling in Europe recently and had a question posed to me by a colleague of mine - Franck Hagen. He asked a very simple but very deep question – “What’s the next big thing?”.

We were talking about the history of Lean and how Lean had grown from its early origins by combining the Jidoka concepts learned at Toyoda Weaving Loom Company with the Just in Time principles refined by Taiichi Ohno along with Standard Work from TWI. Add in some Policy Deployment courtesy of Peter Drucker and Quality from Dr. Deming and voila the Toyota Production System was born.

Lean, as it was later christened, has spread from its manufacturing roots to become the world’s most powerful business system. It’s now being used in Healthcare, Government, Design, Service and in fact, is applicable to any organization in any industry.

That’s why I found Franck’s question so intriguing. What comes next?

To answer that question, I believe we still have to look at what drives value but in this case zoom out and answer what drives value for communities or society at large. We also have to place this in the context of how our world is changing and becoming faster and flatter.

In this framework, what then are the barriers preventing organizations, communities or countries from creating more value? And what needs to be done to eliminate this barrier?

Here are my thoughts. I believe the next big thing will center on the creation of knowledge and include the rapid dissemination of this knowledge around the globe to wherever it’s required. The barriers to creating and sharing this wealth of knowledge that currently exist will be eliminated. This will allow value to be created in ways that enrich the lives of everyone so that the wealth we have as a society continues to increase but in a way where everyone benefits.

Those are some humble, simple thoughts I have as an answer to Franck’s question. I’d love to hear from you.

What do you think the next big thing will be?


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