We Thrive. ASSA ABLOY EMS in Phoenix

At Lean Technologies, we are focused on solving customer problems and providing year over year value to client organizations. One such client is ASSA ABLOY where we work with a number of the North America sites. Although the name ASSA ABLOY may not yet be a household name in North America, you are likely to be familiar with one of their many popular brands of entry systems. In fact, you probably scanned an access card, turned a handle, or walked through one of their doors the last time you entered a school, hotel, hospital, or workplace. ASSA ABLOY is the global leader in door opening solutions and a market leader in most of Europe, North America, South America, China and Oceania. The EMS Division plant in Phoenix, AZ called upon Thrive Goal Boards to solve a particular need on the plant floor to monitor production activity, provide real time feedback to the operators, communicate performance to management, and track day to day performance gains.

The operations team leaders at ASSA ABLOY EMS were gracious enough to sit down with a video crew so we could share a little bit of their Thrive experience with the rest of the world. We are thankful for their willingness to participate in this video and continued use of Thrive throughout their organization.


For more information, contact the Lean Tech team at or fill out the contact form on our website


Value separation

How do you as an individual, “be different”?  As a company?  How do you create value that stands out from others providing your services?  And if your services fall in the same category as others, you must not be different, right?  Shouldn’t you then be in your own category?

Catching up on some blog reading, Brian Buck (@brianbuck) posted about a new book by Youngme Moon called  Different.

One clip in the video caught my attention:


However, simply being a smaller version of the bigger thing isn’t going to do it.  For me, “smaller” as a software company may in itself be different, but I need to do things that the big companies can’t do.  For me, I have always tried to focus on:

  • Going to the “software gemba”: this is where it all started for me.  My own personal frustration with software companies and the applications themselves.  I got frustrated watching users fight with applications that should have improved organizational processes, but sometimes seemed to only hinder.  I still get the most value by talking with users directly and with observing how they use software to manage their information flow.  My “best ideas” are simply insights gained at the “gemba”.
  • Action: Have an idea to enhance the product?  Something not working as expected?  Want a new feature?  I love ideas.  I strive to get ideas implemented quickly, something I think is significantly easier for a nimble organization than a large one.  Product changes are implemented in days instead of “in the next release sometime next year.”  I have even implemented something new while in an on-line support session with a client.  You won’t be routed to a call center overseas with LeanTech, you have direct access to someone understanding not only the product, but your individual business needs.

The “Different” video has gotten me thinking about other ways to differentiate.  I always want to find ways to give clients the best possible experience of working with a software vendor.  I’ve started cataloging some value-creating excellence here

The video below is one of the items I bookmarked recently.  It shows an amazing way to stand out, in this case for a photographer, but it should definitely get the creative juices going for your own organization.

Casey Templeton Photography 2010 Promo from Casey Templeton on Vimeo.


Promotional video for “Different” is embedded below:

By |2010-03-23T10:23:32+00:00March 23rd, 2010|Business, Innovation|0 Comments

Heads up, your business may be drowning

My friend Sam Duregger (@duregger) pointed me to an article about the obsessive-ness people have developed with their smartphones.

The article opens with a story about a man who was so engaged with his smartphone he didn’t notice the bathtub water he was filling for his daughter was overflowing onto the floor.  Why is this technology so engaging?  What is going on in peoples’ heads?  The article explains it with this:

It is because they are human, and human beings tend to repeat actions that are pleasurable and rewarding, particularly if they get our endorphins flowing. The complication is that we devalue delayed rewards — the feeling, for instance, of looking back on lovely moments with family — in favor of the immediacy of the new. In this case, it’s data. It makes us high.

Meeting short-term expectations of investors or the board is the smartphone of the business world.  The short term rewards feel good, and people want businesses to produce similar results time and again.  The reality is those short-sighted goals can lead to painful long-term results (and not always for the people setting those objectives, unfortunately).  This description at least gives me some perspective on why any business could possibly be short-sighted…this smartphone mentality simply transfers to their approach to business.

Hey, and for fun, the article even gives an example you can try out on your friends!

Get some friends together and tell them you will give them $100 now or $200 next year. Most of them, he said, will take the $100. Now tell them they can have $100 in 10 years or $200 in 11 years. Most will take the $200 because there is nothing immediate, or more exciting, fogging up their calculation about which is the greater reward.

Lean is for the long haul.  Lean focuses on building long-term value: for customers, for employees, for stake-holders.  You may not see the results in Q1 of implementation.  Endurance is needed.  But if you stick with it, the results will come and will be sustained long after the other guy’s bathtub is spilling onto the floor.

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By |2010-03-16T11:26:15+00:00March 16th, 2010|Business, Manufacturing|2 Comments

Things are looking up: a Friday roundup

Seems to me that “Depression 2.0” never happened, and probably isn’t likely to.

On the Forbes DigitalRules blog, Twenty Reasons for Optimism.

On the Value Acceleration blog, Mitch has noticed busy airports and cities.

And what’s fueling the turn around?  Innovative people like Jeremy Parker, who’s story is told on Mark Cuban’s blog.

I like Tom Peters’ synopsis:

Oracle and Methodist got me thinking about how much is working and moving in the U.S. economy, though you sure as hell wouldn’t know it from the press and its pundits—or the President’s schedule-of-gloom.

We are getting the tar beaten out of us, to be sure, but the "American narrative," circa 2009, does not begin and end on Wall Street and/or Detroit.

Pick up the ball and run with it, small businesses and entrepreneurs!  Yeah, I know Oracle and Houston’s Methodist Hospital aren’t exactly small businesses, but it seems that small businesses and startups fuel growth, and grow themselves.

Anyone else notice things picking up?  I know I’m plenty busy.

(side note: I’m calling this “a” Friday roundup as opposed to “the” Friday roundup, because it would only be “the” Friday roundup if I did it all the time.  But I’ve only done it one other time.)

By |2009-03-20T15:01:28+00:00March 20th, 2009|Business, People|0 Comments

Problem Solving 101

Dan Roam of "The Back of the Napkin Blog" discusses a new book on his blog called Problem Solving 101 by Ken Watanabe.  The book was originally written in Japanese, but after great success in Japan there is now an English version selling in the US.  Here’s a brief snippet from the book’s web site:

Problem Solving 101 started out as a simple guide to teach Japanese schoolchildren critical thinking skills. But it quickly became an adult bestseller, thanks to the powerful effectiveness of Ken Watanabe’s problem solving methods.

I have not read the book yet, but the web site provides some sample videos on basic problem solving techniques which could be applied not only by the Japanese schoolchildren, but certainly any organization looking to improve/establish/teach methods to improve their operations.

All of this reminds me of one of my favorite Saturday Night Live segments from Weekend Update, which featured "financial expert" Oscar Rogers and his analysis on how to correct the economic crisis.  While his process is humorous given the enormity of the problem, there certainly is validity to his process.  Here’s what he had to say, followed by the clip from Hulu.  Enjoy!

"Take it one step at time.  Identify the problem.  FIX IT!  Identify another problem.  FIX IT!  Repeat as necessary until it’s all FIXED!" -Oscar Rogers

By |2009-03-11T08:47:09+00:00March 11th, 2009|Books, Business, Fun, People|0 Comments

Not interested in shoes, how about pizza?

This post was inspired by my wife and "On being nimble versus visionary" over at the Learning About Lean blog.

2950127087_d726f8a527_m Now is certainly a time in the business environment to be flexible.  To be adaptable.  To grab opportunity when others sit back and watch.  And the airport shuttle guy in the airport in Mexico was the ultimate example of this.  Here’s how the conversation went:

Me, looking for flight arrival information because we are waiting for passengers on another flight, approaching a man who is clearly affiliated with a shuttle service to take people to hotels:  "Where could we find flight information?"

Him, determining that my needs don’t directly match his services, but realizing there may be an opportunity for a different business opportunity to occur: "Where would you like to fly to?"

Wow.  In a span of about 2 seconds this man determined that although I wasn’t looking for his driving services I had created a market for him to provide other services and he immediately switched his business model to "I am now a travel agent"!  It would have been interesting to see if I had carried that conversation farther how he would have met that set of needs.

As referenced by the "On being nimble versus visionary" blog entry, a financial manager made this comment in an email:

"We stand resolved that the ability to react is now more important than the ability to predict."

The service provider in Mexico certainly realized this.  Without being able to predict what market needs might be walking off the airplane, he was ready to react and grab opportunity.

And this doesn’t have to be limited to small organizations (i.e. the Mexico shuttle service). has numerous stories of delivery exceptional customer service outside of their "core" competency of providing shoes.  Here’s just one where people called customer service looking for the closest pizza delivery service!

Photo credit, Emery Way

By |2009-03-03T11:58:39+00:00March 3rd, 2009|Business, Customer Service, People|0 Comments

Alright, enough with the jargon already, just tell me where it hurts!

About to go on a rant…a rant about marketing speak.  I guess this isn’t the first time I’ve done this.  I guess what is probably frustrating for me is that seemingly a lot of people swoon and end up in a trance at the horse and pony show a lot of companies produce.  "Yes, oh great company [read, marketing organization], I do need a real-time collaborative knowledge management portal…I’ve never used those phrase in my life until now, but I’m sure I need that."  You know what?  What people really need are easy-to-use tools that provide information that people can take action on and make improvements to their organizations.  Maybe I’m just too pragmatic in my approach.

Unfortunately, I think too many people pour money into things that don’t actually solve the problems that they have in the first place, or that will really deliver the business results that they need.  [Side bar: I guess I’m guilty sometimes, too…I almost made the plunge into a time-share that we could not realistically taken advantage of…but they key is: almost.]  Scott Whitlock has an example (if his blog hasn’t moved yet) about pouring good money after bad.

The VP at one of my clients tells a great story every time I bring other potential clients in to see there company.  "Give me the $2 million you were to spend on the ERP package you were going to buy, I’ll kick you in the shins because that’s how implementation would have felt, and then go buy Thrive instead."   (for obvious reasons I’m a little biased in why I like this quote).  While blunt, his point is of course that unfortunately many organizations do fall for the lure the dressed-up sales speak thrown around big systems.  Of course, we all know how Kevin Meyer feels about this as well.

I have a lot of feelings about ERPs, but here’s my current favorite visual about enterprise applications (from Go Big Always):


So what do people need?  Well let’s start with why in the world would you collect data to begin with?  People want to know where the problems are.  We need to know that something went wrong (or that things are going well).  We need feedback.  We need to know where the opportunities lie.  And then people want to be able to manage the process of improvement and see results later that they did indeed reach the desired target.

I guess if you do this through integrated and browser-based portal rationalization systems that non-intrusively collect data from disparate sources and provide real-time, resource multiplying, supply chain enhancing solutions, then more power to you.

By |2009-02-06T12:21:50+00:00February 6th, 2009|Business, Information Management, People, Technology|0 Comments

Don’t wait for recovery, lead the recovery

"We’re cutting R & D."

"We have money right now, we’re just not spending any of it." (something I heard from a potential client of mine in the last few months)

A VP I was speaking to at a large manufacturer said a mistake their organization made in 2001 was to not invest capital in the future, and they’re still recovering from that.

A client of mine I spoke to last week said a company he used to work for cut back spending in R & D about 10 years ago and never recovered from decision.

Mark Perry says recovery is on its way:


But I hope that if people hear this news, that they’re not just waiting for it to happen.  Recovery requires action, which won’t happen in the form of a handout.  And there’s no better time to take action than during a down economy.

Get back to work.

By |2009-02-03T13:42:31+00:00February 3rd, 2009|Business, Manufacturing|0 Comments

Thrive software referenced in ISO audit in a positive light!

Had to add “in a positive light” because being mentioned in an ISO audit may not be a good thing, but in this case it definitely was.  For those wondering about how Thrive can support your ISO certification, it is definitely a “value add”.  Here’s what was said in a recent audit:

The investment in tools like Thrive for a common communication platform is evidence of the organizations commitment to “….a dedicated focus on continual improvement” as stated in your Quality Policy.

To my knowledge, this is the first “in print” reference to Thrive in an audit, but I have spoken to two other auditors at other clients before who have said that Thrive exceeded their expectations for how software could support an ISO certified organization.

By |2008-10-30T10:13:38+00:00October 30th, 2008|Business, Information Management, Manufacturing|Comments Off on Thrive software referenced in ISO audit in a positive light!
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