Monday, October 29, 2018

The Power of One Page

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

In times of tumultuous change brevity is king.

Blah, blah, blah…doesn’t cut it when revenue is non-existent and investors are jittery.

Endless PowerPoint decks, no matter how slick, are tiresome and wasteful. The four-hour meeting that goes nowhere is downright irritating.

Less is more remains the cardinal rule in music, art, theater, and the world of business.

Lean masters of the past understood ‘less is more’ in their bones. Toyota in the early 1950’s, for example, was facing bankruptcy, union warfare and public condemnation.

They were a tenth as productive as the American juggernaut car companies, and had little capital with which to buy desperately needed machines.

They created the one-page storyboard, also known as the ‘A3’ (after the paper size), to enable quick effective & communication.

I have a number of friends who are retired Marine corps officers. They tell me that Marine Doctrine also emphasizes clear & simple communication – short stand-up meetings around a board (1-page) are the norm.

Our friends and colleagues in the start-up communities have absorbed this concept and now communicate with various ‘canvases’.

These address broad strategic issues such as Business Model and Value Proposition, as well as, tactical elements like Personas, Empathy Maps and Customer Journeys.

I’m heartened by such cross-fertilization. Both the giver and receiver profit, and develop empathy.

Quality is paramount, of course. A page full of garbage is just that. Clearly expressing a hypothesis and plan of action around a complex business problem or industry takes great skill and understanding.

You have to think deeply, and then get the hell out of the building. (Go see, as the Japanese like to say).

One page takes much longer, therefore, than ten. (You all know the famous Winston Churchill story by now…)

The power of one page emerges in all its glory when use it to tell stories.

Story-telling, narrative, is perhaps our most human quality. “Tell me a story, grandpa…”

“Well, once upon there was a little girl who lived with her family in a town by the sea. And one night she looked out her window and saw a beautiful white horse and the horse had wings…”

Will AI ever be able to make up an enchanting story, on demand (from a loved one)?

That’s the real Turing test, no?

In any event, I tip my hat to our digital & start-up friends. It's fun working with you & I encourage you to continue poaching ‘traditional’ Lean.

Best regards,


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