Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Lean Body

When I taught weight lifting classes, I would hear people say that they did not want to increase muscle because muscle weighs more than fat and they didn't want to weigh more. I encountered even more people that would try to reduce their body fat by doing what is called yo-yo dieting. Both of these strategies lead to greater weight gain and increased body fat.

When implementing Lean management, we often adopt the counterproductive goal of eliminating waste (i.e., reducing weight), instead of the profit maximizing goal of increasing quality (i.e., increasing overall health/fitness). The problem is that when it comes to your body (and to your business), depriving your body of calories drives your body to extract protein from your muscles and convert that protein into energy in order to keep the body going, which reduces muscle, thereby weakening metabolism, which ultimately increases the very body fat that we are trying to reduce.

When we skimp on infrastructure by adopting the goal of reducing waste we do the same thing to our organizations that yo-yo dieting does to our bodies. For example, when we understaff teams, we put our teams in firefighting mode (i.e., often ignoring the important to do what is most urgent). This necessarily causes us to extract vital resources from other necessary, often more important parts of the business, thereby reducing the overall strength of the firm, which ultimately increases the very waste we are trying to eliminate. Even though adding new value (i.e., muscle) is expensive (i.e., increases your weight), it also causes you to naturally reduce waste (i.e., fat), which actually has the net effect of maximizing profits (i.e., reducing your overall weight)

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How Will You Measure Your Life?

I recently read this article by Clayton Christiansen out of Harvard entitled, “How will you measure your life?” It is what he tells his students on the final day of his class.

One of the items that he mentions sticks out to me. It reads as follows:

“One of the theories, . . . . . how to be sure we find happiness in our careers—is from Frederick Herzberg, who asserts that the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements. I tell the students about a vision of sorts I had while I was running the company I founded before becoming an academic. In my mind’s eye I saw one of my managers leave for work one morning with a relatively strong level of self-esteem. Then I pictured her driving home to her family 10 hours later, feeling unappreciated, frustrated, underutilized, and demeaned. I imagined how profoundly her lowered self-esteem affected the way she interacted with her children. The vision in my mind then fast-forwarded to another day, when she drove home with greater self-esteem—feeling that she had learned a lot, been recognized for achieving valuable things, and played a significant role in the success of some important initiatives. I then imagined how positively that affected her as a spouse and a parent. My conclusion: Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team. More and more [people think] that a career in business means buying, selling, and investing in companies. That’s unfortunate. Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people."

I’m sure you can see why it sticks out.