“For the best return on your money, pour your purse into your head.”

Benjamin Franklin

Reading Mladen Jovanovic’s article My “productivity” system (in an attempt) led me on a road of reading and bookmarking. I read about personal kanban (which I won’t get into here) and then on lean priming. Here’s the link.

Lean (or lean thinking) is the English name—popularized by MIT researchers—to describe the system now known as the Toyota Way inside the company that created it.3 Toyota is a strong, resilient, company that seems to improve over time

Having just read part of the paper, I am a novice when talking about lean thinking. There are many things going into it and they even have a term for people who imitate lean thinking without fully adopting it. Cargo cult.

A cargo cult in a tribal society performed rituals imitating the behavior of nonnative visitors (often from Europe). By analogy, cargo cult process adoption suggests ritualism and superficiality. Cargo cult lean adoption implies adopting lean tools without the transformation to a lean state of mind and behavior by management.

So what does this all mean? There are a lot of words or terms you’ve never heard. Lean thinking? Lean primer?

It doesn’t matter. What matters is Toyota’s state of mind and behavior from the bottom up. The people at the top act as coaches and mentors rather than managers. They have a term called “Go See” where they get in on the action. And it is why they have revenues when other companies are reporting losses.

Why is that and how can individuals use this in there own personal development? Among many others, two things stood out to me as things individuals could really write home to momma about.

❑ Development—out-learn the competition, through generating more useful knowledge and using and remembering it effectively.

❑ Production—out-improve the competition, by a focus on short cycles, small batches and queues, stopping to find and fix the root cause of problems, relentlessly removing all wastes

Tim Ferriss’ book The 4 Hour Workweek goes into detail about efficiency and effectiveness on page 69-70. So beyond out-learning and out-improving the competition (which is yourself from last year, last month, last week), remember Tim Ferriss’ writings,

-Doing something unimportant well does not make it important

-Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important

-What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it

-Efficiency is still important, but it is useless unless applied to the right things.

The whole point is to personally develop yourself each day. You make appointments to go to the doctor, to get your teeth cleaned, your eyes checked, and you make time to go to the grocery store. So why don’t you schedule time to personally develop?

This is what Craig Ballantyne from Early to Rise talks about when he says win the morning-win the day. Waking up 15 minutes earlier and getting the most important task of the day done. Now, if you start waking up 2 hours earlier this year than last year WHILE at the same time using this “extra” time to personally develop yourself, that is 730 extra hours a year to put towards reading, writing, etc!

Remember Toyota: OUT-LEARN AND OUT-IMPROVE THE COMPETITION.

How are you personally developing? What is your plan for personal development? How do you schedule personal development daily?

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