Monday, April 25, 2016

Viva Iceland

By Pascal Dennis

Lean Iceland recently – keynote talk and a number of workshops.

Thanks to Viktoria Jensdottir and Lísa Ævarsdóttir for their kind invitation, and splendid conference organization and management.

Thanks to the 400+ Icelanders who attended – a superb turnout.

Some impressions of Iceland: tenacity, humility, humanity, curiosity and toughness. Icelanders have survived and prospered in beautiful, harsh land for twelve centuries.

The first Icelandic parliament was established at Thingvellir in 930 – now a spectacular national park.

Great story-tellers too. (I purchase two books of Icelandic folk tales, and a beautiful book on the great sagas, which so inspired Tolkien.)

Seems to me Iceland has the right stuff to excel at Lean. (Some interesting cultural similarities with Japan.)

A few reflections for my Icelandic friends and colleagues:

In my view Iceland’s greatest asset is its splendid people, which have the highest literacy rate in world, and are deeply engaged. (As the ex-prime minister learned with the release of the Panama papers!)

Lean excellence is entirely within your reach the next decade – with a proviso or two.

Perhaps the most important is – do not copy. Instead, please translate the powerful principles of Lean in light of Icelandic culture and character.

The old alchemical image resonates – with one hand the alchemist reaches for the sky, with the other into the deep earth.

Another proviso is learn by do. Find capable senseis and commit to long-term learning. Root your learning in practice and link it to clear Purpose.

Go slow to go fast. Beware massive training initiatives. (“Lean in 16 weeks!”)

Lastly, stay the course. Don’t get to high, don’t get too low. Stay the course.

I’m optimistic – each of these should be simpatico with Icelandic culture and history.

Good luck & best regards,


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