Ahh, the ubiquitous Post-It® Note. My workspace is covered with lovely multi-coloured notes, or it was until I discovered Digital Notes. The unassuming Post-it has become a legend but I wanted to share it again, as told in The Knowledge-Creating Company by Nonaka, and Takeuchi.
“Art [Fry] sang in the church choir and noticed that the slips of paper he inserted to mark selected hymns would fall out. He decided to create a marker that would stick to the page but would peel off without damaging it. He made use of a peel-able adhesive that Spence Silver at the Central Research Lab had developed four years previously, and made himself some prototypes of the self-attaching sheets of paper.
Sensing a market beyond just hymnal markers, Fry got permission to use a pilot plant and started working nights to develop a process for coating Silver’s adhesive on paper. When he was told that the machine he designed could take six months to make and cost a small fortune, he single-handledly built a crude version in his own basement overnight and brought it to work the next morning. The machine worked. But the marketing people did some surveys with potential customers, who said they didn’t feel the need for paper with a weak adhesive. Fry said, “Even though I felt that there would be demand for the product, I didn’t know how to explain it in words. Even if I found the words to explain, no one would understand…” Instead, Fry distributed samples within 3M and asked people to try them out. The rest was history. Post-it Notes became a sensation thanks to Art Fry’s entrepreneurial dedication and dogged persistence.
(Nonaka I, Takeuchi H. The Knowledge-Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation. 1995)
That entrepreneurial spirit has been part of 3M’s corporate culture almost since inception. As stated in the William L. McKnight Management Principles:
“As our business grows, it becomes increasingly necessary to delegate responsibility and to encourage men and women to exercise their initiative. This requires considerable tolerance. Those men and women, to whom we delegate authority and responsibility, if they are good people, are going to want to do their jobs in their own way.
“Mistakes will be made. But if a person is essentially right, the mistakes he or she makes are not as serious in the long run as the mistakes management will make if it undertakes to tell those in authority exactly how they must do their jobs.
“Management that is destructively critical when mistakes are made kills initiative. And it’s essential that we have many people with initiative if we are to continue to grow.”
Chris touched on this when he blogged about Failing Should be Easy and even Why don’t people like my ideas?!. Art Fry was given the opportunity to fail. When people didn’t like his idea, he proceeded to find a way to prove that his idea truly was great.
I’m proud that we here at Point2 allow people to fail; in fact, using Test Driven Development we ensure that everyone fails at first.
We give people time to explore and experiment, and everyone has some time for professional development.
Incidentally, Ken Schwaber’s early paper, “SCRUM Development Process” references heavily the work of Takeuchi and Nonaka and their description of a rugby organization style.
By: Kevin Bitinsky
Another day eventful day has come to a close here in Vegas. For those that have missed out I’ll give you a summary of a day here at the Better Software Conference & Expo.
The morning begins at 7:30 with a light breakfast that one of the lovely hosts refers to as, “crumbs and juice.” Quite good and they had my favourite, blackberries! Then time enough to go to the wifi lounge to check email.
The day’s festivities begin with a keynote address by Tim Lister discussing Some Not-So-Crazy Ways to Do More with Less. A thoughtful dissertation about learning to make do has the tendency to create some innovative solutions to problems. Disruption can cause turmoil, but in the end we often tend to be better off – check out the Satir Change Model.
My first lecture of the day was a provocative discussion In Defense of Waterfall by Ken Katz. This was a very lively debate where Ken was actually a proponent of the Agile Manifesto but warned that there is no panacea. It is up to us to find what works best, and then improve upon it; heh, sounds very Lean to me:)
By this point in the day it is time for lunch and networking. Lunch is a fantastic Mexican-ish buffet. In the same space is a small exposition so an hour for lunch is nowhere near enough time to talk to our peers and all of the vendors. In fact, I lost track of time and missed my next presentation, oops, oh well I had a great chat with the folks from ThoughtWorks.
I then ran off to the Agile PMP: Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks. I’ve done some courses based on the PMBOK but never carried through completion on attaining the PMP certification – I wasn’t sure that “best practises” would remain relevent in the software world. Michael Cottmeyer did a good job of showing how an AgilePMP is relevent.
The highlight of my day was learning Andy Kaufman’s Dirty Little Secret of Business. You want the secret, too? Relationships, nothing scandalous (what happens in Vegas, does not stay in Vegas), just that building relationships is extremely important – even for those of us who would prefer to spend quality time with our favourite Mac.
17:30, the day is done and I am drained… but wait, there’s more. There’s a reception, I am tired but the talk of free snacks and beer lures me in. And it gives me a chance to talk to Andy Kaufman a bit (BTW, I did not talk to Latka, I didn’t drink that much). Thanks for the pep talk, Andy. All right, now I’m ready to network.
As for Dave; I haven’t seen him since he entered into the high stakes poker tournement. I guess he’s networking, too.
By: Kevin Bitinsky