About CCG

CCG is a group of experts of the information support to manufacturing operations to assist:
  • company, supply chain, production, engineering and IT executives to set up their vision, strategy and tactics regarding industrial systems operations and information
  • managers and teams in charge of industrial IT transformation: master planning, IT architecture, organization and governance 

CCG Associates

Business Consultant
Texas Consultants, Inc.
SME Energy/Refining
Industrial systems consultant
Associate Professor
Business Process & Enterprise Architecture
Business consultant - MES
Principal Consultant


Tied to the specific environment of industrial facilities, in close relationship with engineering and business systems, industrial IT is associated with particular problems of management, urbanization, infrastructure choices, and responsibility boundaries. Technical and organisational conflicts are frequents and hardly solved internallly.


Our experience and expertise support the adjustments of organization and processes to leverage in house competencies and ensure an efficient governance of industrial IT:

  • Compenetencies assessment
  • Organization schemes
  • Process definition
  • Maturity level approach
  • Obective control
  • Service level definition
  • Identification of relevant business process that involve inter-system communication
  • Involving ERP / MES / SCADA / LIMS / WES / AMS... systems
  • Relevant to Production, Inventory, Quality, Maintenance operations
  • BPMN description of workflows
  • Specification of transactions and messages
  • Implementation of defined messages based on the appropriate ISA95 standard models
  • Definition of a lexique mapping Enterprise taxonomy to ISA95 terminology and concerned systems
  • Customization of B2MML schemas to incorporate enterprise specific data
  • Definition of XML schemas based on UML data structure or any data modelling definition
  • Help for mapping information to the different systems
  • Specific competency on SAP/R3


This domain of expertise addresses the challenge of assessing objectively the impact of information technologies on the efficient operation of the enterprise in general, and more specificaly of its production system. It then addresses the implementation of an operational and dynamic planning for continuously adjusting the industrial IT resources (MES) to environement and strategy evolution. It supports the following action types:
  • Consolidate enterprise strategy definition and rodmap
  • Evaluate IT contribution to Enteprise Critical Success Factors
  • Develop KPIs to assess the actual IT efficiency with regards to CSFs
  • Define and implement processes to monitor IT support to strategy
  • Maintain the IT project porfolio, justify project investment with regards to:
    • Effective support to strategy
    • Short and long term benefits
    • Social, environmental and economic
  • Animate a dynamic master planning to supervise IT construction and deployement
  • Articulate the planning on Manufacturing Architecture in its structural and functional dimensions

Manufacturing Execution Systems and Manufacturing Operation Management address the support to manufacturing related operational activities through methods, best practices, and IT support.

This expertise domain covers the 8 ISA95 part 3 activities:

  • Detailed Scheduling
  • Dispatching
  • Execution Management
  • Data collection
  • Analysis
  • Tracking
  • Defintion Management
  • Resource Management

applied to the 4 manufacturing operation categories

  • Production
  • Maintenance
  • Quality
  • Inventory

It concerns the following aspects:

  • Operations visibility, KPIs
  • Operations monitoring and supervision
  • Open loop resource and process optimization
  • Closed loop optimization with feedback to local operator, engineering et R&D (see Manufacturing intelligence)
The information dimensions of the production system are particularly complexe. Managing master/basis and histortical data is a prerequisite for any effort to rationalize and improve physical and operational processes and activities.
Applying normative repositories facilitate the definition of requirements and the implemention of solutions for applications such as :
  • Master Data Management
  • Production Data Collection and historization
  • Traceability and Genealogy
  • Any Manufacturing Operation Management related IT development

This expertise domain relies manly on standards like ISA95 parts 1/2 and ISA88 part 4 addressing

  • Data structures
  • Electronic signature

Optimization of work scheduling and resource usage

  • Classical finite capacity scheduling
  • Drum-Buffer-Rope, theory of constraints based scheduling methodology
ISA88 changed the way of dealing with automation. Our expertise addresses:

  • Agile and flexible control
  • Flow integrity management
  • Process control knowledge management
  • Organisation of application projects in highly parallelized tracks
  • Organisation of the development of an enterprise automation object repository

This brings robust, modular, and hierarchical automation design based on the ISA88 standard, flow analysis method and CCM manufacturing architecture framework.


Manufacturing Intelligence facilitate the feedback of actual performance and deviation resulting from the execution of work to assist the decision making

  • in real time by the operator or automation
  • in deferred time by R&D, engineering and maintenance
It concerns the different aspects of the manufacturing architecture:
  • Usage and performance of resources (human, equipment, material...)
  • Product Quality
  • Performance of physical and operational processes
Modelling is at the heart of complex system mastery. The modelling exercise is not a goal by itself, but rather a step - an ongoing process actually - mandatory to support any improvement approach.
Modelling is thus a prerequisite fot any IT development from planning to realization. A major aspect of manufacturing architecture, this expertise addresses the different dimensions of the production sytstem as defined by CCM:
  • Asset modelling: Products, People, Equipment assets
  • Equipment control
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Company wide transformations & facilities processing capabilities
  • Operation management processes

Definition and implementation of relevant and consistent metrics and dashbords for assessing industrial performance

Support to implementation of operations management methods

  • Process and quality improvement
  • Resourece effectiveness monitoring
  • Business Process Reengineering
  • Enterprise and Supply Chain Metrics and Critical Success Factors
  • Design to performance
  • Design to Compliance/Qualification
  • FDA PAT - Process Analytical Technology
  • Risk management
  • Economical justification
The product is the critical aset of the industrial enterprise. The industiral dynamics depends directly on the efficient management of the product lifecycle, from the market perception to the ability to deliver the customer orders. The production system is involved at the industrialization time (implementation of the product on the industrial system) and for the R&D and engineering feedback (product, process and methods improvement). Some possible actions to improve the product lifecycle:
  • Formal definition of Product requirement by R&D
  • Formal definition of manufacturing capabilities by engineering
  • Industrialisation support, "on the fly" product manufacturing definition

This expertise is based on the ISA88 part 3 standard that defines the basis for consistent product and process knowledge management and relationships to allow translation of product physico-chemical transformation requirements to executable equipment oriented procedures.


Taking appropriate action to induce knowledge and practices to handle efficiently a given part of the CCM Body of Knowledge and associated methods and standards.
This can include:

  • Self learning documentation,
  • In-house training courses,
  • Workshops,
  • Open courses
  • Teaching in schools and universities, 
  • Writing articles, developping papers and reports under specific directions for neutral articles in magazines, promotional report and white papers

CCG Management consultants have developed their own methodologies to enable them to identify problems and serve as the basis for recommendations for more effective or efficient ways of performing business tasks.

Our involvement enables organizations to gain an external advice (a second much needed impartial eye). The scope of our Management Consulting services includes:

  • Helping organizations to improve their performance, primarily through the analysis of existing business problems and development of plans for improvement.
  • Enable organizations to gain "Best Practices" and implement them within the organization
  • Organizational change management assistance
  • Coaching the Managers of the organization of all levels
  • Technology implementation
  • Strategy development
  • Operational improvement services

Projects allow enteprises to enable and  perfom their ongoing transfomation to adapt  themselves to their changing environment.

CCG experts support enterprises in the following:

 Project owner support

  • for scoping, planning, defining technical constraints, and monitor the project execution

Project Management

  • to ensure successful project execution by managing time, resources, budget, and quality. CCG experts apply proven and innovative managerial technics to address the ma,ny challenging conflicts and issues of complex projects.

Assistance to the project execution

  • to study, select and master the appropriate design options and solutions that will fulfil the owner requirement efficiently and cost effectively

Reviewing, evaluating and selected software products

  • Open publications
  • Software vendor internal usage or competition benchmark
  • Industrial company looking for project sourcing of technology roadmap

Helping software vendors to orient their developments by sharing ideas and long term vision based on ongoing technology awareness and highly structured manufacturing architecture framework

Helping the transition process from user requirement and functional specification to actual solution design by:

  • Identifying and mapping software functional capabilities to solution independent functional requirements
  • Providing gap analysis and support to design the technical response to functional requirements

Assessing products, applications and people compliance to the standards such as B2MML, ISA88, ISA95, ISA84/IEC61508/61511...

Helping software editors to identify possible acquisitions or partnerships and to explore the technical aspects of a prospective deal.

User Requirement Collection:

  • Conduct interview with key users
  • Collect and align user requirements on manufacturing architecture
  • Standardize and translate user requirements into functionnal specifications
  • Ensure the independance between functional requirement / definition and technology
  • Develop user autonomy in submitting and updating their requirements and the corresponding specifications

Functional specification adds information support to the production system based on consistent industrial architecture.

Standards & practices

Six Sigma is a business management strategy, originally developed by Motorola, that today enjoys wide-spread application in many sectors of industry.

Six Sigma seeks to identify and remove the causes of defects and errors in manufacturing and business processes.

It uses a set of quality management methods, including statistical methods, and creates a special infrastructure of people within the organization ("Black Belts" etc.) who are experts in these methods. Each Six Sigma project carried out within an organization follows a defined sequence of steps and has quantified financial targets (cost reduction or profit increase).

ISA84 Scope
1. To define terminology that is peculiar to E/E/PES and high reliability.

2. Establish criteria for and means of assessing reliability and availability in practical applications.

3. Provide general specification guidelines that facilitate understanding.

4. Provide guidelines for process safety applications requiring high reliability.

5. Develop guidelines for specific hardware/software configurations that can meet varying levels of reliability/availability.

6. This work does not apply to nuclear power safety-related systems.

ISA88 Purpose

To provide standards and recommend practices as appropriate for the design and specification of batch control systems as used in the process control industries.

ISA95 Scope

  • Multi-part effort
  • Define in detail an abstract model of the enterprise, including manufacturing control functions and business functions, and its information exchange.
  • Establish common terminology for the description and understanding of enterprise, including manufacturing control functions and business process functions, and its information exchange.
  • Define electronic information exchange between the manufacturing control functions and other enterprise functions including data models and exchange definitions.

ISA99 Purpose

The ISA99 Committee will establish standards, recommended practices, technical reports, and related information that will define procedures for implementing electronically secure manufacturing and control systems and security practices and assessing electronic security performance.    Guidance is directed towards those responsible for designing, implementing, or managing manufacturing and control systems and shall also apply to users, system integrators, security practitioners, and control systems manufacturers and vendors. 

The Committee s focus is to improve the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of components or systems used for manufacturing or control and provide criteria for procuring and implementing secure control systems.  Compliance with the Committee s guidance will improve manufacturing and control system electronic security, and will help identify vulnerabilities and address them, thereby reducing the risk of compromising confidential information or causing Manufacturing Control Systems degradation or failure.

B2MML is an XML implementation of the ANSI/ISA 95 family of standards (ISA95), known internationally as IEC/ISO 62264. B2MML consists of a set of XML schemas written using the World Wide Web Consortium's XML Schema language (XSD) that implement the data models in the ISA95 standard.


Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) is a graphical representation for specifying business processes in a workflow. BPMN was developed by Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI), and is currently maintained by the Object Management Group since the two organizations merged in 2005.
The Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) specification provides a graphical notation for specifying business processes in a Business Process Diagram (BPD). The objective of BPMN is to support business process management for both technical users and business users by providing a notation that is intuitive to business users yet able to represent complex process semantics. The BPMN specification also provides a mapping between the graphics of the notation to the underlying constructs of execution languages, particularly BPEL4WS.

The primary goal of BPMN is to provide a standard notation that is readily understandable by all business stakeholders. These business stakeholders include the business analysts who create and refine the processes, the technical developers responsible for implementing the processes, and the business managers who monitor and manage the processes. Consequently, BPMN is intended to serve as common language to bridge the communication gap that frequently occurs between business process design and implementation.

Currently there are several competing standards for business process modeling languages used by modeling tools and processes. Widespread adoption of the BPMN will help unify the expression of basic business process concepts (e.g., public and private processes, choreographies), as well as advanced process concepts (e.g., exception handling, transaction compensation).



The Application of the Theory of Constraints for Project Management


The Coherent EA is a change oriented Enterprise Architecture approach base on the concept of continuous change. It taking the time dimension into consideration and suggest that an enterprise is changing continuously. The change oriented EA model is initiated to clarify major myth in the EA community as has evolved to emphasize on reference model and service oriented architecture to enable simplicity and agility, Segment Architecture to close the gap of business performance to address business change base empirical need. EA has not evolved as expected because there is a great confusion on What is EA, what is reference model, the role of service oriented architecture and the purpose of segment architecture due lack of a update EA model to keep up with the EA evolution. The community try to understand EA from the traditional application development oriented EA approach. CEA suggest a change oriented enterprise architecture approach which break the myth of target enterprise architecture and clearly explain what is reference model, the role of service oriented architecture and the purpose of segment architecture.

CIMOSA (Computer Integrated Manufacturing Open System Architecture) represents one of the most popular enterprise modeling architectures.
The aim of CIMOSA is to elaborate an open system architecture for CIM and to define concepts and rules to facilitate the building of future CIM systems. It was developed by the AMICE Consortium, in an EU project

Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) is a process improvement approach that provides organizations with the essential elements of effective processes.[1] CMMI best practices are published in documents called models, which each address a different area of interest. There are now two areas of interest covered by CMMI models: Development and Acquisition.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT) is a set of best practices (framework) for information technology (IT) management created by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), and the IT Governance Institute (ITGI) in 1992. COBIT provides managers, auditors, and IT users with a set of generally accepted measures, indicators, processes and best practices to assist them in maximizing the benefits derived through the use of information technology and developing appropriate IT governance and control in a company.


Cynefin is used to designate a naturalising sense-making framework, developed by David Snowden and his collaborators. The Cynefin framework draws on research into complex adaptive systems theory, cognitive science, Anthropology and narrative patterns, as well as evolutionary psychology. It "explores the relationship between man, experience and context"[1] and proposes new approaches to communication, decision-making, policy-making and knowledge management in complex social environments.
(from Wikipedia)


Direct Value Added
Enterprise and Companies are different entities by their nature, roles and performance objectives.
Taking into account these differences reveals that the survival and the development of the enterprise is much better secured - the usually conflicting interests of shareholders and employees are better satisfied:
- The enterprise is no longer committed to generating profit, but to adding value, which feed wages and profit.
This fact lead to adopt specific KPIs and new decision processes and tools for driving the enterprise
Sales DAV = Turnover - Direct consomption


Scheduling Methodology based on the Theory of Constraints

CCG posts

The nice people who do the Oikosify Scrummaster Toolbox podcasts, asked me to tell you that they, very sensibly, I think, have split their interview with me into smaller parts. (When I get going on a topic I am interested in, well...let's just say we had a long talk.)

So, if you care for your sanity, I recommend you listen to their other podcasts.

If you think sanity is overrated, or if it is just too late for you, here are the ones where Vasco Duarte interviewed me:

Tonight, when things have quieted down, I will listen to a few of their more recent podcasts. They've got material there I am very interested in. :-)
Picture by Henrik Mårtensson

I originally published this article at Linkedin Pulse:

When I transitioned from my work as a developer and systems architect into working with leadership, strategy, organization, and process improvement, I had a lot to learn. Naturally, I read a lot, I joined interest groups, and I asked questions. I soon discovered that there were some questions that, though very important, were never asked.
The reason for not asking important questions is usually embarrassment. If I know I am supposed to know something, but I don't, then it is embarrassing to ask. Short term, it is often easier to hide the lack of knowledge.
The downside, of course, is that if one does not ask, one does not learn. If nobody asks, nobody learns, but everyone believes everybody else knows…
This can create a downwards spiral, where nobody knows anything about something, but everybody is to busy hiding their lack of knowledge to notice.
I found that in business, strategy is one of those somethings. I found that nobody dared to ask a very fundamental question about strategy. I also found that the lack of an answer caused confusion, lack of direction, lack of cohesion, cost a lot of money, caused poor working conditions, stress, unnecessary layoffs… I could go on, but you get the gist of it.
What was the question? A very simple one really:

What is strategy?

When I got interested in business strategy, I found business books about the topic confusing. Terminology was defined in rather loose terms. The definitions did not help me in any practical way. There were many different definitions. Some authors even dismissed strategy as a useless waste of time.
I found this difficult to understand. Strategy is important in Game Theory (which deals with business problems, among other things), it is important in Chess, a military organization cannot survive a war without strategy, in ecosystems, animals and plants have survival strategies. Why would business, which is obviously a strategic, competitive game, be any different?

Strategy is the answer to a Question!

I did find one business definition of strategy that worked for me. It is from the Theory Of Constraints:
Strategy is the answer to the question "What for?" 

Tactics is the answer to the question "How to?"

In other words, a strategy is a structure consisting of an ultimate goal, and a set of intermediate objectives that, if achieved, will lead to achieving the goal.
The definition also made it clear that for each goal or intermediate objective, there must be at least one corresponding tactic.
Viewed through the lens of that definition, strategy and tactics in a business context made a lot more sense than it had before. The definition works for all strategic games, not just business. It also clearly separates strategy and tactics. Most other definitions tend to muddle them, and get lost in fuzzy lines of reasoning about different scale and scope.

Confusing Strategy & Tactics

Unfortunately, while strategy and tactics as useful concepts started to make sense, the business strategy documents I read made correspondingly less sense.
For one thing, I found that most of the strategy documents I read weren't strategy documents at all. They were filled with material on how to do things, with zero information on why these things had to be done in the first place.
Many strategy documents were actually tactical documents, masquerading as strategy documents. When I found tactics in strategy documents, I used to go looking for actual strategy, but most of the time, there simply was no strategy to be found, just a random collection of things to do, with little cohesion, or even working against each other.

The Emperor's New Clothes

Other "strategy" documents were hilariously obfuscated. Some were obfuscated so well that neither I, nor anyone else, know what is actually in them.
One company I had worked for had got "help" developing a strategy from a rather large consultancy. When I had a look at strategy documents from the consultancy, I found them difficult to read. Suspiciously difficult! So, I ran their documents through a readibility calculator, and found that the language was so complex you needed a doctor's degree in English to figure out what the content was.
Nobody could read and understand the darn things, and everybody was too embarrassed to say anything about it.
What's the use of having a strategy nobody can read and understand? Apart from confusing competitors, not much.

Keep it Simple!

Personally, I like to express strategies as diagrams, instead of with text only. Diagrams make it easier to build a coherent, and easy to understand, overview.
My favorite method, The Logical Thinking Process, (yes, I know the name is cringeworthy,) is pretty good. I get the overview, and it is also easy to dig down into more detail when necessary. There are plenty of other useful methods around, but one has to do a bit of research to find them.

A Game of Interaction and Isolation

It is useful to have more than one perspective, so I did not stop with the Theory Of constraints view of strategy. I found very useful material in a military strategic framework, Maneuver Conflict, by Col. John Boyd:

Strategy is a game of interaction and isolation!

How is that useful? Well, if you know that you want to strengthen interactions between yourself and your allies (including customers), and isolate your enemies from each other, then you can check if that is what you are doing.
I found that remarkably often, it isn't. Companies use organizational structures explicitly designed to reduce the interactions of its employees, often because they reuse old organizational designs, without knowing the original purpose.
Conversely, companies do a lot of stuff that separates them from their customers, and drives the customers into the arms of competitors. For example, I can no longer make a phone call to my bank without giving them a password, over the phone, before I even get to talk to somebody. If I were not already a customer, I would not be able to call them at all.

Strategic principles

In addition to having a clear definition of strategy, it helps to have a set of basic principles of strategy. I mean really basic, so basic that they are relevant to any game of strategy. That is something Maneuver Conflict provides, but business strategy frameworks rarely do.

36 Stratagems

Speaking of principles, I have found old Chinese texts, like The Art of War, and 36 Stratagems, to be very useful. They provide insight, and they can be used as idea generators. No wonder that Chinese business people study them.
I'll do a follow up article about 36 Stratagems soon. There are stories to tell. :-)
Note: The 36 Stratagems article will take awhile. Might even end up becoming a book, so please don't hold your breath waiting for it.

I wrote a review on Amazon for Exploring the Practice of Antifragility.

I am republishing it here:

First disclosure: As of the 5th of December 2015, I am a contributor to this book! I do not have a financial stake in it, but I do wish the book to succeed, because I believe the idea of antifragility to be important. I won't review my own contribution, of course, but stick to the things I have read by the other contributors.
Second, Exploring the Practice of Antifragility is itself antifragile! The book is a Kindle ebook, and like all Kindle books, it can be updated with new material from time to time. This means the book itself can evolve according to pressure from the environment, i.e. reviews and sales data can actually make this book better over time.
Thus, if you buy the book, think of a way to improve it, and write about it in a review, your wish might come true. While this is possible to do with all Kindle ebooks, I do not think too many of them make good use of it. When Si Alhir, one of the editors, told me about the book having planned updates when he invited me to participate, I found this to be a very attractive feature.
Third, the book also features another very important property of antifragile systems: Variation!
The book is an anthology, with essays written by very different people, who have very different backgrounds, and who do very different things. This means you won't be interested in everything, but, if you are interested in antifragility, there will almost certainly be something in it that you find very interesting.
Fourth, the book was practically useful to me! Two years ago I began building an antifragile organization. We are now more than 350 people. One of my book projects is a book about the organization, and I have struggled with explaining, in a simple way, the difference between the antifragile organization, and fragile organizations in the same domain.
Todd Nilson solved the problem for me, writing about Nicholas Taleb's triad schema. It was exactly what I needed. I can borrow the idea, adapt it for my own book, and it will work beautifully.
Si Alhir made the connection between antifragility and the OODA decision loop from John Boyd's Maneuver Conflict, which I find interesting, because the antifragile organization I am deeply involved in, directly uses many ideas from Boyd.
Again, Boyd's ideas are echoed in Todd Nilson's: "…the purpose of the community trumps all else."
I also enjoyed reading Elinor Slomba's piece about sustainability, connectivity, and diversity, and how to use simple free tools to collaborate over the Internet.
Valuable ideas I can use in my own work. Highly useful.
Also, Slomba's ideas about cascades the properties of aggregated and distributed systems are practically useful to me. I recently released a book about reducing lead times in the book publishing business. The method I wrote about, and use to write my own books, applies the same ideas. Slomba has given me a slightly different perspective, which will help me express the ideas in a simpler manner in my own books.

So, I give this book five stars, because it actively uses the ideas it proposes, because it will get better over time, and because it was practically useful to me immediately when I read it.

Bokomslag Skriv och sälj! (e-bok)

I've been speedwriting again! This time about how to write and publish a book very fast:  Skriv och sälj!: Skriv och sälj en bok på 14 dagar (Write and Sell!: Write and sell a book in 14 days) is out on Bokus, Dito, and Bokon.

Actually, speedwriting is a misnomer. I am, have always been, and always will be, a slow writer. The idea with Write and sell! is to reduce queue and wait times in a book production process, the same way we can reduce it in software development processes (Agile), in product development (Lean Product Development), and in manufacturing (Lean, TOC).

I am digging down to the queueing theory with this one, and going with it all the way to what to do, and how to do it.

Writing and publishing the book took only nine days. I had planned to do it in 14 days, but the gods of time buffering were on my side this time around.

Writing and publishing the book took only nine days. The reason why the lead time was so short, is that I utilized Little's Law:

t = I/T


t is the lead time
T is the production rate
I is the average number of items in queue

I managed to stir up a bit of controversy in two writer's communities on Facebook when I published the book.

People are assuming that I worked my butt off to produce faster, i.e. increase T in the equation, and that they would have to kill themselves trying to achieve the same productivity.

Of course, I am much lazier than that! I chose to reduce I instead.

How did I do that? Well, one way is to write shorter books, but as it turns out, you do not have to. You can use load balancing instead!

That is right, the magic stems from applying heijunka to the authoring/publishing process. Heijunka has been around since at least 1948. All I did was to apply it in a new context.

I did a bit more than that. I took three other equations from queueing theory, network science, and TOC (specifically from Throughput Accounting), and worked out how to apply them too. If you are interested, well, it's in the book. (Badger me if you are really, really interested in an English translation. The main reason I am not translating the book is sales. Right now it is easier for me to build book sales in Sweden. Sigh!...That's in the book too.)

Now, instead of trying to push people to learn, I intend to work with those who are curious and willing to try something new, and with those who are interested because they already know. Part of that tactic was to create a Facebook group for those interested in reduce writing and publishing lead time.

We'll see what comes of it. There is certainly more "speedwriting" ahead.

I haven't figured out what to call it yet, since it is not really about speed. I am pretty sure the original, Japanese terminology will not fly with writers. No, I need something else...

Smartwriting, anyone?

Bokomslag Tempo! : Praktisk strategi, organisation och ledarskap i en kaotisk tid (häftad)
Click the picture to buy Tempo! from Bokus.

Tempo! has finally got distribution in Sweden! The printed version of the book is now available on Bokus, and very soon on Bokon, and Adlibris. (I'll update this post when Tempo! arrives in those stores.)

In addition, companies hiring me for consulting work, can buy Tempo! from a special web shop, at a considerably reduced price.

When I wrote Tempo! my intent was to write a practically useful business strategy book in Swedish. I did not want to tell other people what to do with their businesses, that is for them to decide, but I wanted to help out with how to do whatever it is they want to achieve.

I had seen too many companies where good, smart people just ran into a brick wall when they tried to make things better, not just for themselves, but for everyone in the organization, and for their customers.

Tempo! is illustrated with more than 100 diagrams and photos

Originally, I wanted to write a book about a practical method for developing strategy. I felt there was a lot of need, because I have seen many companies where strategy and tactics are confused, and where the relationship between strategy, tactics, and organization are ignored.

This can lead to a world of hurt when the organization tries to do things it is not designed to do, or when it tries to do two or more contradictory things simultaneously.

Another thing I wanted to provide was a means of clear, unambigious communication. Far to often I have heard people say "We want to work towards the company goals, but we don't know what the heck they are!"

So, what do you get with Tempo!? Basically three things:

  • The basics that every manager, and preferably everyone, in your company needs to know about how people work, how processes work, and how your organization works. Expect some surprises here.
  • A strategic framework, Strategic Navigation, that is basically a civilian adaptation of John Boyd's military Maneuver Conflict framework.
  • All the methods and tools you need to make it work. 
    • Crawford Slip lets you gather and organize information from large groups of people very quickly
    • TLTP, The Logical Thinking Process, lets you find root causes of problems, find solutions, and then build the project plans you need to fix them.
    • Process Behavior Charts, a tool that helps you make sense of otherwise very difficult to interpret data in reports.

The material has been thoroughly researched, used in practice, and proofread by some of the best management experts around, including Bill Dettmer, Chet Richards, Don Reinertsen, and many, many others.

Now, with a much better distribution network than before, I do hope more people will find Tempo! useful.

If you read the book, feel free to drop me a note, and tell me what you think of it, if you found it useful, and if you have any suggestions for improvements.

The ebook version of LESS! is now available on Dito and Bokus. LESS! is of course also available via Amazon.

I am very proud of LESS!. I am particularly proud of the fact that I did not write most of it. LESS! is a collaborative work, and working with the other authors has been a privilege I cannot adequately describe. One of my best adventures ever.

LESS! is about building better places to work:

Have you ever had a great idea crushed by the words, "we can't do that, because it's not in the budget"? Then you really need to read up on Beyond Budgeting. Bjarte Bogsnes, VP of Performance Management at Statoil and Dr. Peter Bunce, Director of the Beyond Budgeting Round Table, have written two chapters helping you free yourself from the chains of budgeting.

If you look around you at work, and see people with great potential, but somehow things never get together like they should. The sum of the work is always less than the sum of what the individuals can do. Then Making the Entire Organization Agile, the chapter by Steve Denning is for you. Steve is a former director of the World Bank. He is a deep thinker with unsurpassed practical experience. In November 2000 he was selected as one of the world's ten Most Admired Knowledge Leaders (Teleos).

If you want to do Lean or Agile, what is you and your organization's position on Theory X and Theory Y? Why do you need to know about them? Because Agile and Lean are Theory Y based, and your organization is most likely Theory X based. X and Y ideas don't mix well. Not understanding the difference is a major cause of failure when implementing Lean or Agile. Dan Bergh Johnson's chapter Agile and Lean do not fit into Taylor's Glove will get you up to speed on the all important fundamentals.

And that is just for starters. There is lots more, by authors like James Sutton, Karl Scotland, Håkan Forss, Ola Ellnestam, Brian Hawkes, Maarit Laanti, Ari-Pekka Skarp, and me. And you might want to check out the Foreword by John Hagel III. John is a great author in his own right, Director at Deloitte LLP, and co-chairman of the Deloitte Center for the Edge.

Recently, I wrote an article for a Swedish website about applying queueing theory to writing and publishing books. Having done that, I decided to follow my own advice from the article, and see what I could do to increase my own productivity.

The first thing to do, is to figure out whether I can do more with what I have already got. I can, and quite easily too.

If I build better distribution and marketing networks, I will sell more, it's that simple. I won't go into details right now. I have work I need to get on with, but distributing via Publit gets me access to half a dozen new sales channels in Sweden. I am also adding a couple of marketing channels I haven't used before.

The result, if I do it right, will be more book sales.

As you can see from the Publit webstore embedded in this post, the mix of books is quite eclectic: Management & Leadership, Photograhy, even a comic book.

Eventually, I will compartmentalize a bit, but for now, I want the word to spread any way I can: Some managers are also hobby photographers, and vice versa. Some comic book readers also lead business organizations.

Expect more books to hit the online, and physical, book stores, real soon.

I am working on a magazine article about what C-level executives want from the middle managers that work for them in terms of character traits, experience, and knowledge.

To make the interviews as brief and simple as possible, I am doing most of the interviews via an online questionnaire.

All information will be treated confidentially, and anonymously. Participants will receive a copy of the report I will prepare as a basis for the article.

If you want to participate, send an email to self@henrikmartensson.org, and I will return a link to the questionnaire.

I will not put you on any email list, or spam you in any way. You will get a copy of the report, that is all.

Can you apply business strategy principles to any strategic game? Yes, you can!

Is it useful to do so? Yes, it is! It teaches you a deep understanding of the principles involved. That understanding will help you apply the principles better in business, in your personal life, and in any other strategic game of your choosing.

The photo above just got selected for the 1x gallery. 1x.com is the world's largest curated gallery. It has attracted some of the best photographers in the world, and it is only the top 3% of the photos submitted that makes it into the gallery.

I took that shot, using strategic principles derived from Strategic Navigation, the business strategy framework originally created by Bill Dettmer. Dettmer based his business strategy framework partly on Maneuver Conflict, a military framework great for dealing with high degrees of uncertainty and complexity, and the Theory Of Constraints, which kicks ass in the domain of complicated cause and effect.

I started using Strategic Navigation, wrote a book about it, and, as consultants are wont to do, tried to make a living by teaching others how to use it.

I found, as many have done before me, that just because you know something really, really valuable and useful, and is willing to share it, other people will want to learn for themselves.

As you may know, I decided to rethink my entire strategy a couple of years ago. I learned photography, because I wanted to build skill using the methods I advocate, while at the same time getting a visible, unambiguous track record. I did of course use the feedback to improve my skills further, using the OODA loop as a guiding framework.

I employed a range of strategic principles, and tactical techniques, to learn to take photos good enough for 1x. Actually, I use 1x.com as a source of feedback, which I feed into the OODA loop.

I'll write only of one of them, because it is a strategic idea that is very visible in the photo: Cheng/chi.

Cheng/chi is an idea from Sun Tzu's Art of War. Cheng means orthodox, and chi means unorthodox. Cheng/chi means that to win in battle, or any strategic game, you need to employ a combination of the orthodox and the unorthodox.

Let's have a look at the cheng, the orthodox, parts of the picture. There are rules for what makes a good photo, and the picture follows them:

  • The rule of thirds: The legs, or rather the knee, where it intersects the shadow, is located one third from the left edge, and one third from the bottom edge.
  • The rule of odds: There are three, evenly distributed, vertical shadows in the photo.
  • The rule of complimentary colors: The bricks in the background are orange, the trouser legs are blue. Orange and blue are complimentary colors, that go well together in a picture. (There is also orange and blue on my business card, and my usual business attire includes a blue shirt and an orange tie. This is not by coincidence...)
That is the meat and potato part of the photo, the bits that correspond to day-to-day business-as-usual in a company.
What is the chi? Better yet, why the chi? The chi part is the surprise, the part that draws attention, the edge over the competition. Everyone knows the cheng, so it is the chi that becomes the decisive advantage over the competition.
The chi in the photo is the visual illusion: The legs seem to be disembodied, living their own life, independent of a torso, and other body parts. There is no image manipulation involved. The illusion worked in real life, as I captured it. (I do a lot of trick photography, but I abide by the rules of the photographic genre I am working in, and cloning out body parts is a no-no in Street Photography.)
I am sure you can figure the illusion out. If you do, why not comment on this blog post?
So, cheng and chi, working together, convinced the curators at 1x that my photo was in the top 3% category.

 This is just the top of the iceberg, of course. For example, humans learn best when learning with other human beings, and when certain conditions are right. I, with several close friends and colleagues, have spent a year and a half building an organization for learning photography and other media skills, and executing advanced media projects.

Without the mentoring I have got from great photographers, like Petri Olderhvit, and Julia Reinhart, in that organisation, I would not have had the technical skill to capture this photo.

Without the skills I have learned from my business strategy mentors, I would not know enough about serendipidity to be able to stack the odds in my favor, so that I can take interesting street photos, not only once, or twice, in a good while, but repeatedly.

Working with photography has also allowed me to build contacts of a kind different from those I make as a business consultant, but at least as useful, and fun.

I will write more about that, but not now. I have got tons of work to do.

"When there is no time to think, you cannot think." Quote by Tim, my 9 year old son. Photo: Henrik Mårtensson

Unless you live alone in a cave in the mountains, you are awash in a flood of ideas, from the time in the morning when you greet your significant other, or start up your computer, to the moment you fall asleep at night.

Some of those ideas will be good ones. Once in awhile, very rarely, you will encounter a great idea. Most ideas, however, are bad ones. They range from doing minor harm, to being lethally dangerous.
Unfortunately, our brains are designed to be rather gullible. We tend to believe stuff, even if there is little or no evidence. We tend to believe simple ideas, and disregard ideas that take significant mental effort. However, reality can be quite complex. Simple does not mean true, or even likely. If we want to avoid getting into trouble because of bad ideas, we need defense mechanisms against our innate gullibility.
Some time ago, I wrote about why management models are useful. One of the models I wrote about, the Deming system, lists epistemology, knowledge about knowledge, as a field of knowledge vital to managers. The reason is that epistemology has some excellent gullibility defense tools, or, if you will, tools for bullshit detection.
Human brains tend to favor extreme predictions, either extremely optimistic, or extremely pessimistic.  Project duration estimates are often overly optimistic. So are most people's estimates of winning big on lotterys. At the pessimistic end, we find end-of-the-world scenarios. Photo: Henrik Mårtensson 
One of these tools, falsification, provides a defense against a common cause of bad judgement: inductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning is the process of deriving a general rule based on a limited set of observations. Inductive reasoning is inherently uncertain, because it is always possible that if we make one more observation, it would break the rule.
Here is a classic example of inductive reasoning:
All of the swans we have seen are white.
Therefore, all swans are white.
–John Vickers
However, the conclusion that all swans are white can be proven false. Finding one black swan is enough.
A Black Swan. Photo by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos. From Wikimedia Commons.
This is very interesting if you are an ornithologist, but what if you are a manager?
Well, companies are designed according to rules, There are rules for how to organize a company, rules for how to design processes, rules for what to do, and rules for how to do it, and rules for what not to do.
These rules are rarely questioned, but most of them are "white swan" rules. That is, someone has made a limited set of observations, and then devised a general rule based on those observations. Applying them uncritically can lead to disaster.
Here are some examples:
Toyota did certain things, and was very successful. Therefore, if we do the same things, we too will be successful.

In 1948 Toyota embarked upon a complex process of trial and error, and developed a set of tools, techniques, an organisation, and a culture, that worked for them. The end result of that process, without the process itself, is not necessarily what your organisation needs to solve your problems in 2015.

If you can find a company that implemented Lean without becoming successful, you have falsified the rule.

Whatever we make, we can sell. Therefore, items in stock are assets.

A basic assumption of Cost Accounting, which was developed around 1920.

Whatever we make is difficult to sell. Therefore, items in stock represent debt.

 A basic assumption of Throughput Accounting, developed around 1990.

Here you get the opposite assumptions, because the rules have been induced from different sets of observations. You can't pick the accounting model appropriate for you unless you understand which assumption is true for you. Even then, you cannot be certain one of the assumptions is always right.

Whenever I praise people their performance gets worse. Whenever I yell at them, their performance gets better. This is always the case. Therefore, I should yell at people, but not praise them. 

When a person performs a task exceptionally well, it is likely future performance will regress to the mean. The same thing happens when a person performs a task exceptionally badly. Future performance regresses to the mean. This is just statistics.

The rule above is completely false, and the long time effects are the opposite of what the rule says. See Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, if you are interested in more details about this example.

However, this observation is one of the underlying assumptions of Scientific Management, and it is related to the idea of enforcing compliance, which is something many companies do routinely.

I used a homeopathic remedy and got well. So did Susan, and Patrick, and Jane. Therefore, homeopathy works. 

Confusing correlation with cause-effect. Can be caused by apophenia rather than inductive logic.

We increased cost effectiveness, and profitability increased. We increased cost effectiveness again, and profitability increased again. Therefore, we should always increase cost effectiveness.

Works only up to the point where reduced capacity costs are balanced by increased queueing costs. 

All of these rules are either completely invalid, or valid only under certain conditions. Working out a better mental model can be difficult. For example, working out a better rule than "increasing cost effectiveness will always increase profitability", or "homeopathic remedies work", requires a fairly sophisticated understanding of mathematics, in the fields of queueing theory, and mathematical variation respectively.

However, finding a clue that something is wrong with these ideas is much easier. If you can find a single instance where the rule did not work, then the rule is under suspicion. That is falsification.

Here is the essence of falsification:

No matter how many observations you make that confirm a rule derived from inductive reasoning, the rule may still be false. You need only make one observation that does not fit the rule, to prove the rule wrong.

Thus, if you can find an instance where a company could not sell what they had in stock, or could sell what they had in stock, or a case where someone was praised, and went on to do something very well, or was yelled at, and still continued to perform badly, or used a homeopathic remedy that did not work, or a company that increased cost effectiveness without becoming more profitable, then you have managed to falsify at least one of the rules above.

Falsification can be a powerful defense against management cargo cult, but also against pseudo-science, racism, sexism, idiotic legislation, empty election promises, propaganda...

If you can express something as a falsifiable statement, you can test it. Falsification won't tell you what is true, but it can clue you in to what is false. This makes falsification an important tool for distinguishing between facts and false beliefs.

About a week ago I posted an article on the IHM Business School blog about an important, but very taboo subject.  At more than 15,000 unique page views the first few days, it is probably the most read article I have ever written. With more than 130 comments on the IHM Blog, it is certainly the most discussed.

I was amazed, not only that the article arose such interest, but of the very thoughtful responses, and how many people that have had similar experiences.

Leif Claesson, one of the commenters, even took the trouble to translate the article into English.

Because of the interest in the original article, I am publishing Leif's translation here.

Here is a link to the original article on the IHM Business School blog.


This was a very difficult article to write. If you prefer reading easy pieces regarding easy subjects, you should skip this one.

Robin Williams recent suicide, received a lot of coverage. The speculations with regards to why one of the world’s most gifted comedians would take his own life have spanned the entire gamut from “cowardice”, an unfortunate statement from a news anchor, to depression, resulting among other things from the fact that Robin Williams had been diagnosed with Parkinsons.

“Depression is an illness” say many well-meaning people, and “we have to start talking about it”.

It’s actually only half correct. Depression is not an illness! Depression is a collection of symptoms. It is however correct that we have to start talking about it.
Depression can have many different causes, for example physical brain damage, and a genetic disposition for depression. That type of depression can be treated medically and therapeutically. There is a third cause. A cause that is so taboo that not even the ones who say they want to talk about depression, want to talk about this particular one.

It’s a type of depression that afflicts highly talented and intelligent people. Highly intelligent people are often depressed, but certain research has shown that they commit suicide with lower IQ. One possible explanation is that intelligent people more often find concrete and workable solutions to desperate problems. They are more introspective and can monitor and understand their own emotional reactions in a way that most people cannot. Another explanation is that smart people often have smart friends. They know how to express their feelings, and they have friends who understand what they mean. This creates safety valves which not every person has.

But, if smart people really have a higher than average resistance to depression, what is it that makes them depressed more often? What can one do about it as a manager?

Let’s start by trying to wear a smart person’s shoes. I’m not talking about real geniuses, but about people with an IQ of about 120 and up.
The average IQ level is 100. A person with an EQ of 120 is above the 95th percentile, but we all tend to use ourselves as a reference. A smart person often views himself as fully normal. For the highly intelligent, it is average people that look weird: Doesn’t like to think, has trouble with simple mathematics, cannot create logical models, does not understand elementary statistics, cannot think critically, never attains a high level of competency in any particular field, isn’t curious, has no endurance for learning new things…

To illustrate the difference: Many people photograph their food and post the pictures on Facebook. It usually looks rather disgusting. I’ve never quite understood why people do that, but I figured I’d give it a try. If I did it myself, perhaps I could gain a better understanding.

Just taking a picture was of course too boring, so in order to make things interesting I decided to challenge myself: Create a short cooking show. Record and edit everything on an iPad, just to see if it was possible. To heighten the challenge, simultaneously record both a Swedish and an English version. How did it go? Rather well for an amateur video, thank you. If you want to see a show about how to cook Paccheri with minced meat sauce, drop me a line in the comments and I will post the link.

The point is that above-average performing individuals make more of an effort, almost whatever the subject. Others often appreciate the result, but want no part of the process.

If the work that the above-average performing individual results in others having to alter their workflow, the reaction is often negative: “We’ve never had to do that before.” Often there is a return to the old way of doing things, no matter how bad the old way was.

On top of that, one is inundated with “good” advice: Don’t think so much, dumb down your resume, try to be more like other people, stop dreaming, do as you’re told (no matter how stupid that is)…

Have you seen the movie Dumb and Dumber? Imagine living in a world where 19 out of 20 people you meet are like the main characters of that film.

A world like that is no fun to live in! For many people high intelligence is a curse, a torment that means you can never fit in, cannot laugh about the same things as others, cannot agree with others, cannot sit and chit-chat with others at parties… One becomes uncomfortable and therefore one goes to the trouble to find out why, when most would just accept the status quo.

A normal brain is designed to save energy. As the frontal lobes activate, the pain center of the brain also activates. This is why many people think solving math problems is uncomfortable. This is also why many people consider talking to intelligent people to be an uncomfortable experience. It’s difficult to follow the logic, evaluate facts and see correlation.

It’s not much fun for smart people either. It’s not fun to present a logical thought process, only to see the face of the person you’re talking to distort into a painful expression. Even worse when the person you’re talking to is a friend, relative or colleague.

So, you learn. You learn to hide what you’re thinking, to always wear a poker face. Never let down your guard at work, around relatives, when you’re out among people. Only among a small subset of people, those who suffer the same affliction as yourself, can you relax.

A good friend connected me with one of his friends, who happens to be a highly skilled mathematician. My good friend doesn’t live in my home town of Gothenburg, but the mathematician does, so we went out for coffee together. It took more than eight hours. We were both so starved to have a conversation with someone, without having to adapt, without slowing down, without having to be afraid of not being understood.

And, please note, I’m not all that smart! The problem is that much worse for people with really high intelligence.

I have a friend who is a brilliant programmer. Early in his career, he was an international troubleshooter at a well-known American technology corporation, and travelled anywhere there was a difficult-to-solve problem to be found. He has a photographic memory, speaks seven languages, is nice and pleasant, and enjoys working with others. He is even a good dancer.

Unfortunately, it was difficult for him to find a job for many years. Nobody wanted to hire him. Other programmers didn’t want to work with him. As he told me the story, I was bewildered. I’ve worked with him, and pair-programmed with him. He’s one of the two best pair-programming-partners I’ve ever had the honor of working with. So, why was he ill liked? Simply because when he is part of the team, it becomes impossible for anyone else to retain any illusions of their own competence.

Not that I could either. After working a day with him, my brain was like a wrung washcloth. And the next day, and the next, and the next… and I loved it! Fantastic challenges, every day. It was one of the most educational and most developmental periods of my life. For someone with low self-esteem, on the other hand, it could have been devastating.

He never did manage to find a job in Sweden. He finally moved abroad to find employment.

I once applied for a job at a large Swedish corporation. As part of the procedure I had to take an intelligence along with many other applicants. Afterwards, two of the testers took me aside. One of them asked me:

“Do you have any idea how intelligent you are?”

“No,” I said. I had a serious cold, my head was pounding, my nose was running, and I felt anything but smart.

After some time, I found out my application was not accepted. I assumed they had been looking for smarter people than me, but about a year later I talked to a recruiter who was very familiar with both the tests and the company:

“The tests purpose is to filter out people with excessive intelligence and initiative,” he said.

They simply didn’t want to have too smart people among the employees. Too great a risk that they have ideas of their own. Note that this was a technology company.

Many years have passed since that intelligence test, but I recently ran into another “knowledge company” which rejects people with a high level of knowledge. When they hire managers they filter out applicants with knowledge of Deming’s knowledge model: An appreciation of a system, understanding of variation, psychology, and Epistemology, or a theory of knowledge.

Reject! This is akin to searching for writers but only hiring illiterates.

I do realize that it’s not a direct goal to have incompetent managers, it’s just that the people responsible for hiring do not have a knowledge model to reference the applicants against. (Oh yes, I’ve checked, there is no other knowledge model either. It really is “no knowledge model”.) When they run across phrases they are unfamiliar with, such as “An appreciation of a system”, the reaction is negative.

No wonder intelligent people are often disillusioned and depressed. You throw yourself into working life to pitch in, help people, accomplish something good, and rather brusquely find out that the only thing that counts is the ability to fit into the system.

The first few years the effects are hardly noticeable, but it’s easy to let one-self wear down over time. When you’re young you fight the battles. When you’re a bit older you learn to choose which battles are worth fighting. Eventually there comes a time where you start thinking that, even though you have exactly the same need to participate and belong as everyone else, it’s just too strenuous. You pull away. Withdraw from associations, lose touch with friends, and at work you hide in your office. You stop presenting ideas or make suggestions because you know they will only result in fruitless arguments.

The need to think and do things is still there, but the possibility of finding an outlet for the energy withers away. Yet you become more and more isolated.

A few years ago, I had an idea: I realized how to reduce the energy consumption of the average home by 10-20%. Wise from the experience of previous attempts, I did the following: “I wrote the idea down, printed it on a piece of paper, put it in an envelope, and mailed the letter to myself. When I received the letter, I put it in my book shelf, and that’s where it stays. I’m not going to do anything with it. A year or so ago I heard of a team in the states who is working on an almost identical idea. I wish them success. (Update from Henrik: After I wrote the article, an Innovation company has expressed some interest, so I am going to present the idea for them after all. I can't stay grumpy all the time.)

Nowadays choose easier ways to express my creativity. I choose things I can handle myself, or with a small group of interested friends. I avoid things that require people outside the inner circle to think, because it usually ends badly.

Does it sound cruel and egotistical? Is my view of humanity all too dark? Let me tell you about the last time I engaged myself in something important.

I was working on risk analysis and discovered that a product at a company had a design flaw: The operator could end up in a position where he must make a crucial decision first, and only afterwards get the information which would have been the basis of the decision. Unfortunately lives could depend on the decision of the operator. That is, the wrong decision could have deadly consequences. I started evaluating competing products and found that they performed in the correct order. Then, I noticed the same procedural error was in the next generation of product the company was in the process of developing.

I sounded the alarm. Which resulted in: Nothing at all! Nobody wanted to correct the problem, because that might have led to extra administrative work. Implied: They might have to recall already sold units. It could also lead to the authorities critically looking into the company. They didn’t even want to correct the problem in the next generation of products, because that would be admitting that something was wrong.

This wasn’t the only problem at the company which could cause death. You can probably guess what happened when I tried to start these discussions.

So, you live and learn!

Depression because of these kinds of events is no illness. It’s simply a normal response to the situation. Once the depression is there, it in itself of course becomes yet another reason to stay depressed. It feeds itself. Additionally, if the self-esteem is tied to the ability to perform, as it often is, there’s the perpetual worry to lose the ability to think clearly, and that the energy to get things done may never return.

So, what can you as a manager do in order for highly intelligent employees not to break down?

It’s actually very simple: Let them floor it and go full speed, even if the rest of the company is still traveling by horse and carriage.

Within the field of strategy there is a very important principle, the Interaction and Isolation principle:

Strengthen the bonds between your own forces and allies, isolate your enemies.

The principle applies to war, chess, love, revenge, and business. You need to strengthen the bonds between the high-performing individuals in your organization. You must also isolate them from those who can, intentionally or unintentionally, hurt them. Thus, you have to make it easy for the high-performers to find each other, and organize themselves. You must also protect them, because people around them often feel threatened.

I’ve worked in environments like this. We employees were told which tasks had to be performed, but we ourselves got to organize ourselves and figure out the best way to get the job done. This resulted in us studying work methodology, organization, queueing-theory, psychology, and a host of other things. We then applied this knowledge in practice and learned how to work as efficiently as possible.

It would not have been possible for a manager to get close to organize us as effectively. We became a tightly welded gang. We made use of each other’s strengths, and we helped eliminate weaknesses.

It was fun to go to work in the morning, and sad to leave in the evening. When we were in the middle of a project, our bosses used to walk rounds in the evening and order people to go home. On Friday you couldn’t wait until Monday.

One more example:

My first real job was as a programmer at a marketing department. This was quite a while ago, so programmers were regarded as slightly mythical creatures. Not quite as rare as unicorns, but still magical. I was seventeen and knew better: I didn’t feel magical at all.

I’d learned to program by reading programming books at the library, and writing programs on paper. The school I attended had a computer room, but students had no access. Luckily there was this one teacher who didn’t mind smuggling those of us who were really interested inside. Qualified for product development I definitely was not, but all I could do was to try.

The first time I met the boss of the marketing department, he said: “I don’t know the first thing about programming, so I’m not going to tell you what to do. If you tell me what you need, I’ll take care of it.” He then took me out to one of the company’s customers, so that I could learn not only what needed to be built, but why.

It was wonderful! Many years passed before it finally dawned on me that most managers do not work this way.

When I subsequently worked on the project, I got to do it at my own pace. I stayed closely in touch with the hardware developers, but had no unnecessary brakes. The result? It went well! Everybody was satisfied beyond expectations, the work was done on time, and there were no bugs.

I’ve seen many companies where skilled managers have managed to create habitats where creative people can work without someone souring as soon as they get a new idea. Unfortunately these habitats are often dependent on individual managers. They’re not a part of the structure of the organization as a whole.

It’s also risky. A good manager gets loyal workers and a highly effective organization, but it’s also easy to make enemies. The manager who built that first effective organization I just told mentioned, where you didn’t want to go home at night, was reassigned in a subsequent reorganization. He quit about a year later.

I wish I could give you a recipe. Five easy steps that ensures the well-being of the people who work for you. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. You can do a lot of good things just by caring, helping with practical things, help the person find meaningful tasks and connect them with other high-performing individuals. The truth is of course that you need to have a strong position in your own organization in order to implement this without risking your own job and your own career.

You have to be the type of person who puts ethical principles before the instinct to fit in and be like everyone else. This of course means it’s likely that you yourself is a high-performing individual and have yourself experienced the problems that other high-performing individuals experience.

Good luck!


Don’t forget to write in the comments if you want to see how to cook Paccheri with minced meat sauce.

Note: A lot of people have asked about Paccheri with mincemeat sauce. Here is a link to the video: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=2572665214719&set=vb.1796957830&type=3&theater

Robin Williams at the Stand Up for Heroes charity benefit in 2007. Photo was taken by John J. Kruzel/American Forces Press Service, and placed in the public domain. Downloaded from Wikimedia.

I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone. 

Lance Clayton (Robin Williams) in World's Greatest Dad, 2009. Written by Bob Goldthwait.

By now I am sure you have heard that Robin Williams, a brilliant actor and comedian, took his own life on August 11, 2014. His death has sparked an incredible amount of discussion and speculation about the causes. The opinions I have seen range from the incredibly stupid (he killed himself out of cowardice), to the well meaning, but wrong (he suffered from depression, which is a disease, and it killed him).

Out of all the pieces I have read about the death of Robert Williams, only one gets it right, Why Funny People Kill Themselves, by David Wong at Cracked.

However, there is more to it. Wong focuses on comedians, but the causes apply to anyone who deviates from the norm. Humans are social animals. We need other people. If we cannot connect, we get depressed.

This means depression is not in itself a disease. It is a symptom! Depression can have many different causes. There may be organic damage, a genetic disposal to a chemical imbalance, or you may be a perfectly healthy individual getting depressed because you are in an unbearable situation.

Being isolated from other people is one of the hardest things to bear.

Your default level of happiness and energy may be very high, but if you cannot build close relations with other people, you may still get depressed.

People who are smart, dedicated and principled are often shut out and isolated. Thus, they are prone to depression. There does not have to be any disease involved, no genetic or physical damage. Just isolation will do the trick.

Why do intelligent people become isolated? Neuroscientific research has showed that the human brain is designed to save energy whenever possible. Thinking requires a lot of energy. So does diligent practice.

Thinking actually triggers the pain center of the brain. No wonder solving math problems is perceived as very unpleasant by a majority of the population.

Intelligent people tend to have active brains. They delve deep into problems. They notice inconsistencies other people pass by. They come up with solutions instead of ignoring the problems. They spend many thousands of hours practicing their skills.

Most people do not want to do that. While everyone loves their results, normal people do not want to spend time with people much smarter than themselves, at work, or in their spare time. It is mentally exhausting, and actually painful. Thus, avoiding smart, dedicated, principled people becomes an autonomous response to the pain caused by the thinking, and other activities, required to keep up with them.

Thus, intelligent people will find themselves rebuffed or ignored, over and over again. They soon learn that reaching out, at work or in their own time, is to invite rejection.

No single one of these rejections is likely to cause a significant mood change, but tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, will.

Even a very resilient mind can, over time, be bent and broken by a barrage of tiny, and not so tiny, rejections.

Having strong principles can cause the same kind of rejection as high intelligence. People with strong principles are often unwilling to go along with illegal or scatterbrained schemes because someone in authority tells them to. They may be unwilling to go along with group consensus, if the group is clearly wrong.

Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.

Steven Winterburn (often incorrectly attributed to William Gibson

Depression is a mood, and moods are, to a large extent, dependent on our surroundings. Thus, if you are depressed, the cause is likely to be external. If not in whole, at least to a significant part.

If you are highly intelligent, and depressed, you may need smarter friends and workmates. Because you spend most of your time awake at work, finding a job with better colleagues, not necessarily with a better job description, may be your best move.

Same thing with friends. Which ones lift you up? which ones bring you down? Not to forget, take a long, hard look at yourself. Are you a positive influence in their lives? Don't assume that you are. Observe! Study your interactions.

There will be good days and bad days, but on the whole, try to create feedback loops that bring you a positive mood and the energy to do things. And, don't be afraid to let your friends help you. Your real friends will do that, just as you would help them.

Actually, helping others is one of the best ways to lift your own mood. Be a bit careful though. Some people will not understand when you are doing them a favor, or going out of your way to do a kindness.

Giving a small amount of money to a beggar will generally work. Giving serious advice on process improvement when someone asks for it is far more risky. If you do not tell people what they want to hear, or force them to think, they are liable to interpret it as hostility.

If you are a highly intelligent person, if you study and practice, and hone your skills, if you do your best to be kind and thoughtful, and yet, you are often rejected. If people like you less the more skilled you become, if they reject you when you hold on to principles you thought you shared with them, if you feel depressed by it, even to the point of wanting to end it, you may be surrounded by assholes.

Try to get a job with better colleagues. Spend more time with your true friends. If you do not have any, make more of them. Surround yourself with brilliant misfits!

I am in the process of doing just that. If you are interested in how I do it, or want to share your own experiences, please do comment on this article.

I recently had to jump head first from a cliff to escape a T-Rex. I am on vacation, and I can't stand having nothing to do, so, I decided to run a little vacation project. Because I am interested in photography, never outgrew my fascination with dinosaurs, and read the occasional comic, I decided on a Lost World photo comic project.
If you are into management, I highly recommend running a non-profit, all volonteer project now and then. Because people won't get paid in coin, you have to do something else: You have to make it interesting and educational.
You also have to find the right people: People who share your interests. Preferably people who get a bit obsessed when they are doing something interesting. They need to be creative, and learners willing to try new things. Oh, and they have to be able to work well together.

The Plan: The Lost World

Running from dinosaurs
When I was a child I read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's book The Lost World (Wikipedia article) about an expedition that finds dinosaurs on an isolated mountain plateau in South america.
Doyle's book spawned an entire literary genre. Edgar Burroughs (Pelucidar), Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park) and many others have written Lost World genre books. Doyles's book has been filmed eight times, directors who have made genre movies include Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park) and Peter Jackson (King Kong).
Writing a Lost world book would not be original enough. Making a movie would be fun, but also much too expensive. There was however another option. 
One of my little hobbies, is photography. My idea was to make a Lost world photo comic. I knew it would be possible to accomplish this with a very small budget.

Putting the team together

Team members clockwise from the left: Petra Brewitz, Petri Olderhvit, Jesper Andersson, and Robert Johannesson. Not in the photo: Marie Eriksson and Lennart Guldbrandsson.
For this project I knew I would need help. I needed to put together a team of dedicated people, willing to do a lost world project just for the fun of it.
I have spent about eight months building a loosely coupled network of photographers. When I come up with one of my over-the-top photography projects, this is where I go to recruit.
Anyone in the network can initiate any kind of event, ranging from having lunch, to launching a major project. Of course, most members are not interested in the more advanced, and time consuming projects, but with 120 members, we do have a pretty good base to recruit from.
Thus, recruiting for the project was pretty easy. I wrote a one page proposal, and published it in our Facebook group.
I also put the ad out in a couple of other forums. While a few people responded and joined, when it came down to the crunch, the people showing up where already members of the photography network. The exceptions are Lennart and Marie. Lennart is an old friend, and Marie just happened to be in a café where we held a meeting. She was interested in the project, and joined up.

Prestudy and planning

We did not have the budget, nor the time, for a Hollywood movie quality project. I decided to simplify a bit. I would have liked to go with 3D dinosaurs, but we simply did not have the prerequisite 3D modelling skills.
Instead, I opted for a much simpler solution: Toy dinosaurs. The toy manufacturer Schlecht makes a line of very realistic dinosaurs. we could use them, and use digital composition to make people and dinosaurs interact.
Good as they are, close up the Schlecht dinosaurs are not quite photo realistic. It is possible to fix this by digitally adding skin, but it is very time consuming. Also, compositing people into a miniature set, or a miniature into a full scale set, is difficult and time consuming.
A simpler solution is to change the viewers expectations: A photo is expected to be realistic, but a drawing is not. Converting a photo into a drawing is a quick and easy process, so that is the route I decided to go.
Even with this simplification, we'd have plenty of challenges.

Lots of planning, but very little scheduling

After each session, I update the panels we have shot. When all panels are done, the project is done!
For a project like this, a plan is indispensable. A long term schedule, on the other hand, is not. There is a lot of uncertainty in a project like this, and this makes long term scheduling inappropriate.
Instead, I made a plan: I layouted the entire story, as a comic, with empty panels, and brief descriptions of what was to go into each panel. I also scripted the dialogue.
This gave us a framework to work with. It also gave us a lot of flexibility. If something changes, adapting the outline is quick and easy.
We do have to schedule photo sessions, of course, but these are scheduled with rather short notice. We use a Facebook chat to discuss scheduling and other topics, and then schedule an event when we are as certain we can be that everyone needed will be able to attend.
If you are familiar with agile planning methods, you will recognize the similarities.

So far, so good!

After each major session, I put together a collage. I publish the collage in the photography group. The purpose is dual: It keeps everyone informed that the project is progressing, and it may entice more people into joining future projects.
As of now, we have had six photo sessions, and we are more than half-way through the project. There is a lot of photo editing and compositing work to be done, but that is no problem. The priority is to get the principal photography done.
A sample page from the comic.
The project has begun to attract some attention, from dinosaur buffs, photographers, and also from the IHM Business School in Gothenburg. I blogged about the project there, and they asked for pictures to publish, which I of course sent them.
I still have a bit of vacation left, so now it is back to the project for me.
Be seeing you!

Put yourself in the shoes of a CEO. What is your primary goal? There are many different ideas about that, but I like this one:

To ensure that the organisation can survive and thrive on its own terms!

Not my idea by the way, but the idea of Colonel John Boyd, U.S. Air Force.

No matter what goal you, as the CEO of your organisation, subscribe to, you have a problem:

How do you make the organisation move in the right direction?

One of your most important tools is the set of managers in the organisation. The managers work as an extension of your brain. (Or, you are part of the same organisational hive mind, depending on how you view the world.) Managers are supposed to detect and correct problems, and continuosly strive to innovate and improve the organisation.

That takes skill. Actually, it requires a fairly complex set of skills. Your managers must hone their skills to a quite high level to be efficient. If the managers are unskilled, or have the wrong skills, your organisation, and your own job security, is toast.

Therefore, you, the CEO, need to think about the skills you want your managers to have,

That is where management models come in! Models are useful because they help us visualise, and think about things. Management models help us think about management.

Specifically, a management model can help when hiring or training managers. As the CEO of a large company you cannot personally oversee all hiring and training, but you can, and should, make sure that the people who do use relevant models.

There are many such models. The ones I write about in this article are models I have found useful. They are by no means the only useful models.

Beware of models that don't work!

Many organisations have only implicit models for how management, or any other kind of work, works. The problem with implicit models is that it is very difficult to see if they really work or not. It is taken for granted that they do. Often they don't!

For example, during my more than 25 years as a software developer I maintained a work portfolio, showing things I had done, from design, to code samples. Not once in my career, not once, did any recruiter or HR person want to see my portfolio.

Hiring a programmer without looking at code is like hiring a juggler without actually seeing the person juggle anything. It is completely daft, and yet it is common practice.

The problem is that many organisations delegate hiring and training to separate departments, but in these departments very few people have the skill nessesary to assess the level, or relevance, of the skills of the applicant.

The people who were assessing me had no clue how to distinguish a great programmer from a poor one. Instead, they fell back on checklists of tools and frameworks, i.e. things a programmer learns very quickly, and have very little to do with the ability to work well with other programmers, solve programming problems and write code that works, and can be maintained.

To assess the skill of a knowledge worker you often need to have the same skill yourself, at a very high level. This means you have to be a highly skilled programmer to assess the skill of other programmers, and a highly skilled manager to assess the skill of other managers.

Think about it: How would you estimate the competence level of an aircraft pilot, a surgeon, a chef, or an optician, just by talking to them? Unless you yourself have relevant skills at a fairly high level, it is not possible to do it reliably.

To make it even more difficult, most of us overestimate our own skills. We know what we know, and that is what we make our assessment based on. We have no way to assess the importance of the things we don't know, because we don't know them. This is sometimes called The Asognosic's Dilemma.

If you have a good model as a base, you can at least get started in the right direction. You know what you need to learn.

So, let's look at some management models.

Fayolism, the Classic

Henri Fayol divided management into six functions

Henri Fayol described a management model in his 1916 book General and Industrial Management. Fayol divided management into six functions, and laid out fourteen principles for managers to follow. In this article, I'll just briefly discuss the functions, and the skills necessary to execute them.

Now, let's do some magic: We can look at Fayol's model and figure out what kind of skills are necessary to perform the six functions. There is more than one way to do this. there are different skills that can support the same function. A function can also be interpreted differently depending on the situation, and the skill and background of the person doing the interpretation.

When Fayol's book was translated from French to English, there was an error in translation. This error caused a fundamental change in the ideas about how to manage:

The French word "contrôle" means "check", or "inspection". "Contrôle" was translated into the English word "control", which means "to influence or direct people's behavior". Thus, the idea that a manager must know how to inspect results was replaced by the idea that a manager must direct people's behavior.

That is a pretty big change. For the purpose of this article, I am using Fayol's original meaning:

Fayole's management functions mapped to management skills. This is a modern interpretation. Most of these skills  did not exist in 1916.

Do you agree with my mapping of skills to functions? If not, still thinking as a CEO, what skills would you map to these functions? Even more importantly, is Fayol's model still relevant? A lot has changed since 1916.

Deming's System of Profound Management

Deming's System of Profound Knowledge

After WW II Japan set about rebuilding their devastated country. The result was unprecedented economic growth throughout the 1950's through the 1980's. (And unfortunately an economic bubble that burst in 1991, and caused a decade long depression.)

W. Edwards Deming, an American statistician was sent to Japan by General Douglas MacArthur to help with the 1951 Japan Census. While he was there, Deming taught hundreds of Japanese engineers and managers Statistical Process Control  (SPC) and concepts of quality.

Some of the people taught by Deming were top management, like Akio Morita, co-founder of Sony.

In the 80's, Japan became so successful it was a threat to the U.S. economy. Deming developed a knowledge system for managers that was designed to enable U.S. industry to catch up again. His 1980 book Out of the Crisis is one of the most influential management books ever.

By Deming's time much had changed compared to the world Fayol lived in. And, new sciences had emerged, which enabled Deming to be more specific as to the skill set a manager would need.

Deming designed his management model in a manufacturing society. Since then, we have moved into the information age, so the skill sets of managers would need to evolve and adapt.

What would Deming's system look like if he had created it today?

Deming's knowledge system updated for the information age. Neuroscience and Complexity Thinking have contributed greatly to the understanding of management over the past 10-15 years.

Amazingly, these skills are still rare among managers. They are more common among management consultants, although I must admit, consultants far to often focus on sales skills so much that the skills for getting the job done are almost non-existent.

Mintzberg on Managing

Henry Mintzberg's 2009 management model

Henry Mintzberg is considered to be one of the world's foremost experts on management. In his 2009 book Managing, Mintzberg presented a management model based on his research.

Mintzberg's management model with mappings to to skills and entities in Tempo!

I read Mintzberg's book while working on my own book Tempo!. Tempo! is intended as a practical guide for managers, so I was interested in how well the things I wrote about mapped to Mintzberg's model.

Though I did not have Mintzberg's management model in mind when I wrote Tempo!, the mapping is pretty good. This is not surprising, because good management models are bound to have similarities. After all, they all describe the same thing, albeit from different perspectives.

IOHAI – Boyd on leadership

The IOHAI leadership model is part of the Maneuver Conflict strategic framework developed by Colonel John Boyd, U.S. Air Force.

The 1960 book The Human Side of Enterprise by Douglas McGregor presented a new way to view organisations, Theory X and Y. The U.S military, who understood the limitations on the classical functional hierarchy very well, were much quicker to pick up on McGregor's work than the business world.

In general, the military is more focused on leadership than management, so their models are a bit different. When Colonel John Boyd of the U.S. Air Force developed the Maneuver Conflict strategic framework, his IOHAI leadership framework was an important part of it.

Boyd stressed the importance of being able to shift from one point of view to another, in order to better understand and solve problems.

For example, an IOHAI trained business manager would be able to shift between useful frameworks such as Systems Thinking, Lean, Statistical Process Control, Self-Determination Theory, Theory Of Constraints, and others, to come up with innovative solutions to problems.

The Power of Paradigms

Donella Meadows's famous System Intervention points.

The Systems Thinker Donella Meadows wrote a famous essay about places to intervene in a system. A manager who understands this model has a powerful tool for applying effective change.

Like Boyd, Meadows considers the ability to consciously switch between different frameworks for thinking, the most powerful ability of all.

To be able to do this, a manager, or leader, must of course be trained to use more than one framework. If the framework is implicit, that is, no one thinks about how the thinking is done, shifting frameworks becomes impossible.

Now, still putting yourself in the place of a CEO, would you like to have explicit management models in your company, as references, to help you decide what skills to hire for, and how to train your managers?

Assuming the answer is yes, do any of the models I have written about fit the needs of your company? If not, what are the needs of your company? What skills do your managers and leaders need to master to fulfill those needs?

Do you have anything like an explicit management model in use today? If not, what is stopping you, and how do you fix it?

I recently had a cup of coffee with a friend, and the discussion turned to the difference between complicated and complex, and why the difference is important.
I have had reason to think about that recently, so I had a couple of examples fresh in my mind, both relating to questionnaires and surveys.
As it turns out, many questionnaires you are asked to fill out have a common design mistake: The assumption that the subject under investigation is complicated, rather than complex. It is an easy mistake to make. The result is increased risk that the survey points you in the wrong direction.
Let's briefly define what we are talking about before digging in to the meat of the matter:
  • Complicated systems have many parts, but they also have predictable cause and effect relationships. For example, a mechanical watch is complicated. It is also predictable. It runs like...well, it runs like clockwork.
  • Complex systems have parts that can adapt to the behavior of other parts in the system. A family is a complex system. All family members both react and adapt to what other family members do. Business organisations, countries, teams and workgroups, ecological systems, the scouts, my photo club, and aquariums are also complex systems.

You can pick a mechanical watch apart and study each piece, that is analyse it, to figure out how it works.
On the other hand, studying each member of a family, or a software development team, or each fish in an aquarium, will not necessarily tell you how the system as a whole will work. A family has emergent properties, properties that belong to the family as a whole, but not to any of its members.

LEGO movies and unpredictability

Here is an emergent property of the system consisting of my eight year old son and me: Stop motion movie making.

My son asked me if we could make a LEGO movie. I said yes, of course, and we created the short movie above. It would be impossible to predict in advance that my son and I would produce a short LEGO movie featuring Thor and The Hulk.
In retrospect, it does not seem farfetched at all that we would do such a thing. It would be easy to construct a Future Reality Tree explaining why and how we did it. However, the tree would have to be created afterwards. It would be impossible to construct a tree that accurately predicts what we will do.
What on Earth does this have to do with surveys and questionnaires? As it turns out, a lot!

Questionnaires: The art of asking the wrong questions

To find out something about a complicated system, you can ask a question about a part of the system. If you want to know more, you can continue to ask questions about parts of the system. Eventually, you can compile the answers, and they will tell you a lot about the system as a whole.
With a complex system, that does not work very well. Knowing each part won't tell you the emergent properties of the system. Another problem is that with a complex system, you do not necessarily know which parts and properties of those parts, that are important to the functioning of the whole.
Systems where humans interact, are complex systems, but questionnaires are very often designed with the implicit assumption they are complicated, or even simple. Thus, most questionnaires, even the ones you pay specialists to create, are designed wrong. They do not tell you what you need to know!
As the illustration above shows, asking many specific questions means you get specific knowledge of the things you assume are important. however, you have no real basis for making these assumptions, because you haven't studied the system yet.
For example, some time ago a coffee shop I sometimes visit made a survey using touch screen computers and a set of specific questions. The questions were about the quality of service at the counter, whether the personnel behavied in an appropriate manner, whether there were cups and plates left on unoccupied tables in sight of the computer, and other things the management wanted to know.
As a fairly frequent guest, I noted that all of the things the questionnaire had questions about worked very well. There were problems, but the questionnaire did not mention them.
For example, there were several electrical outlets that were damaged well beyond the point of being dangerous, the toilets often ran out of soap and toilet paper, the free WiFi-system did not work. While  there was no problem with cups and plates lying around near the computer terminal, there were often several tables on the second floor that could not be used because they were covered in cups, plates, and glasses.

Nobody asked about it, because they did not know they should. The things they did ask about were the things they already had control of.

Thus, the questionnaire was all but useless as a tool for improving the café. All it could do was confirm that things the management had focused on in the past were ok.
The questionnaire created a false sense of having everything under control, which reduced the incitament to do real improvement.

Query Fatigue

Thinking requires a lot of energy, and the human brain has very limited energy reserves. This means a questionnaire with many questions will tire the brains answering the questions. Thus, the quality of the replies will degrade significantly, so that replies to question 26 will be much less trustworthy than replies to question 3.
Many people will of course opt out of replying to a questionnaire altogether, if it has too many questions.

To know more, you must ask less!

So, if a questionnaire gets worse the more comprehensive it is, what can you do about it?
Well, if asking more questions makes the questionnaire worse, then you can make it better by asking fewer questions.
If you ask only a few questions, then obviously you must ask the right ones, or you will learn little of significance. You cannot know what is important to ask, but there are people who know: The people answering the questionnaire. They probably do not know it as individuals, but collectively they do.
How can you tap into that knowledge? You can ask broad questions.

If you ask broad, open-ended questions like:

  • What is the single most important thing about X that we should improve?
  • What are the most important problems with X?

Then you will get the respondents to tell you what they believe is important, rather than telling you their beliefs about what you believe is important to them.

The difference is quite important.

There are many ways of doing this. Personally, I like the Crawford Slip brainstorming method. I also use a modified form of Net Promoter Score. (I had to modify it, because the original version of NPS botches the statistics and makes the assumption all systems are complicated.)

Scope and analysis paralysis

There are two important questionnaire design problems I am saving for another day and another post:

  • Scope: Which people should you ask? This is sometimes obvious. On the other hand, the obvious answer is often wrong, so you need to give this some thought.
  • Analysis paralysis: What do you do once you get the responses to your questionnaire? How do you know which answers are important, and which ones are not?
With those two questions I bid you farewell, for now. Until next time, think about questionnaires and surveys in your own organisation. Did they really tell you what you need to know? Were the big problems solved? If not, what can you do about it?

The Success to the Successful systems archetype explains how very small differences, and random factors, can lead to one actor in a system to be hugely more successful than other actors:

  • how monopolies are created
  • why income is so unevenly distributed in many countries
  • why success in the school system leads to success later in life
  • how Microsoft became dominant in the software market

...and many other phenomena. Success to the Successful provides an explanation model for the Pareto Principle, the observation that in many systems, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

To understand the causal loop diagram above: Assume that you have two actors A and B. A and B compete for resources. A and B may start out being equal. That is, there may be no observable difference that would give either a competitive advantage.

As long as the system is perfectly balanced, nothing interesting happens, but, if there is a random event that either favors A, or hampers B, then A will gain an advantage over B. A can use that advantage to gain more resources. Because resources are limited, B will be starved for resources. This will mean a greater advantage for A. When the cycle repeats, A will be able to gain even more resources, and B will have less.

If the cycle is not checked, it will continue until A kills off B. In cases where A and B are interdependent for survival, A will then die too.


Two recent Youtube videos provide excellent examples of the effects of the Success to the Successful systems archetype.
The first video describes how income distribution in the United States have changed in the past few decades:

The second video shows the same income distribution phenomenon occurring in Sweden. The video is in Swedish, and I have included it mainly for my Swedish readers.


The video above shows Warren Buffet and Bill Gates discussing a remedy to the problem of uneven income distribution. It is well worth watching.

There are two tactics that can be used to restore balance in a Success to the Successful situation:

  • Identify the resource being unequally distributed, and redistribute it more equally. For example, this is why tax scales in many countries are progressive. It has nothing to do with justice. It is a way to prevent distribution imbalances that would eventually lead to economic collapse.
  • Separate the reinforcing structures, so that they no longer are allocated resources based on their relative results. For example, when Apple was being outcompeted by Microsoft and the PC manufacturers, Apple broke into the music market with the iPod. This reduced Apple's dependency on the computer market, a system dominated by Microsoft and the PC, and allowed it to build strength in an area where there was less competition.


Higher Learning Research Communications, March 2013, Volume 3, No. 1
Systemic Perspective, Vol. 4, Gene Bellinger
Business Dynamics, John Sterman

Link to article

Keywords: EU Project, Autoprofit, MPC, Profitability, Performance Monitoring, Controller Tuning, Non-linear, ARC European Industry Forum 2014, call for participation

​Model-based control and optimization applications are costly to implement and maintain because this requires significant time and effort by experts.  As a result, even though the technology offers great potential benefits in other applications, currently most model-based applications have been installed on large-scale refining and petrochemical units.  Even here, due to cost and manpower considerations, the applications are not adequately maintained and thus often lag behind hardware, process, feedstock, or other plant changes.  As a result, the performance of, and benefits from, the applications degrade over time.

The Autoprofit project, funded by the EU and executed by ABB, Boliden, and SASOL, together with the universities of Aachen (RWTH), Delft (TU-Delft) Eindhoven (TU/e) and Stockholm (KTH), aimed to initiate the development of autonomous performance monitoring, diagnosis and maintenance of model-based controllers. The project objective was to (largely) automate and reduce the maintenance cost of these applications.  Since improving the economic performance of industry and applications was a project goal, the approach uses economic cost functions. The project researched algorithms and software to close the autonomous maintenance loop with validation by industrial case studies.  The primary focus was on linear MPC, with extensions into nonlinear dynamics on part of the cycle.  Application of the software on two industrial plants, on top of the installed MPC solutions, among which a depropanizer column at SASOL in Secunda were successful.

The results of the project have been presented in an industry workshop near Amsterdam at the end of November and on ARC’s European Industry Forum this month.   Discussions during the workshop with users indicated interest for vendor-independent control software suites, capable of tuning and other MPC maintenance tasks.

ARC Advisory Group believes that the project results are significant and — once further tested, and validated — should ultimately enable industrial process plants to both implement MPC applications more effectively and sustain the economic benefits over time to maintain the applications and keep them up to date as the underlying plant operations and process conditions inevitably change.

The European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program includes calls for proposals issued in collaboration with the non-profit association, SPIRE (Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency).  These offer opportunities for EU financial support for further research and development in this field.  Eindhoven University of Technology has taken the lead, forming a consortium with industrial and academic partners to propose a project to further develop the technology to  embed it in new and existing MPC tool suites (commercial or proprietary). Sharing risk and investment, providers or end users could take advantage of the developments earlier at a moderate cost.

For further information or to provide feedback contact the author, or to manifest interest to participate in further research and development, contact Prof. Paul Van Den Hof,  at Eindhoven University of Technology.  A more detailed description of the Autoproft project results and the workshop in Amsterdam is found here: http://bit.ly/1dfKTHf

Dr. Valentijn de Leeuw  •  Vice President 
ARC Advisory Group Europe  •  Vision, Experience, Answers for Industry
France: +33 6 89 68 43 59   •  Belgium: +32 496 10 33 15  
E-mail: vdeleeuw@arcweb.com   •  Web: www.arcweb.com •  Linked-In: fr.linkedin.com/in/Valentijnvdeleeuw/


It is natural to want to avoid conflict, but it may not be the best way. You may be surprised to learn who had the courage to stand up in the face of anger and constructively work to resolve a conflict, and who had not. (Photo: Henrik Mårtensson Yep, that's me. Model: Ida Stranne.)

You should not decide until you have heard what both have to say.

–Aristophanes, c. 446 AD – c. 386 AD

I have seen two interesting cases of conflict resolution recently, showing off two very different methods of resolving conflicts.

Even more interesting than the different approaches, is who chose which approach. Read on, you will be surprised, or maybe not.

Case 1: Scream and make up

In the first case, two people worked together on building something, but they had different ideas, and constantly got in each other's way. They took a break, and decided to go out together, to let their tempers cool off.

When they came back, the conflict had escalated to the point where they were screaming to each other, and one of them left to go home.

About ten minutes later, the person who had left came back, apologized, and said he wanted to make up and be friends again. He said he valued friendship more than the thing they had been trying to build.

It took a few minutes, but eventually, they were both talking. A few minutes after that, they continued on their project, and it worked well. Since then, the two have worked on more projects, and worked very well together.

Case 2: Repress and remove

Repressing the message by removing the messenger has short term attraction, but it does not solve the problem. It often creates new ones. The problem is that excercising power is much easier than excercising courage, good judgement, and empathy.

The second case was in a sales network team. A recruiter who used personality profiling in his work asked another team member to take the test. The idea was that if the second person took the test, he would then be comfortable acting as a sales agent for the first person.

For this example to work, I need to delve into the background first, so you understand the full consequences of the repress and remove tactic used. I am sad to say, repress and remove is as common as it is costly.

It should be noted that the recruiting agent had sold his services to more than 400 companies, and tested more than 14,000 people. The recruiter claimed that his test was an infallible way to identify top talent, the very brightest and smartest people.

In this case the second person happened to be a top performer, and according to other tests, both personality and IQ tests, friendly and a borderline genius. He was exactly the kind of person the recruiter claimed to be able to identify.

When this person took the test, he ran into some difficulties:

  • It was an ipsistic test. Ipsistic tests are designed as counseling aids. They do not yield results useful for comparing different individuals. For example, a very stupid person with little empathy could get a score that says there is a 50-50% balance between intellect and emotion, but so could a very intelligent person with high empathy. (Job applicant tests usually use the Likert scale.)
  • The test forced test takers to prioritize two different statements, without knowing the context. The test was an online questionnaire designed so you could not skip a question and continue. 

This is downright stupid. For example, "X is a letter" and "I need to breathe" are both true, but to prioritize them, you need to know context: Are you teaching a child to read and write vs. are you suffering from oxygen deprivation. 

Intelligent people do consider context! It is a hallmark of high intelligence and empathy, and yet, the test was designed to barr such people from even completing it.

To put it bluntly, to complete the test, the test taker would have to fake being less intelligent than he was, which he refused to do. (In retrospect, the test taker admitted that hiding his intelligence would have been a lot smarter.) 

Approximately a third of the questions were designed this way.

Not only was the test fake, it faked the wrong type of test!
There were more problems with the requitment method. The recruiter had a method of identifying the ideal personality profile for a particular job. What he did was to profile employees with the same or similar jobs, and then create a profile based on averages from the ipsistic test scores.
You may note there are two things wrong with this:
  • If your ideal profile is the average of what you have got, you will get more average! Real top performers will be way different from the average, and have no zero chance of passing the test, unless they are lying their way through it.
  • Computing an average score from the results of an ipsistic test is an excercise in idiocy, because ipsistic test scores are not comparable from person to person.
There were other things, like failing to make a distinction between introverts and socially selective people, which is important if you want to identify top performers. The recruiter also cited examples of customer satisfaction as evidence of the effectiveness of the method itself. This is entirely bogus. For example, an astrologer may have many satisfied clients, but astrology itself does not work.
Now we get to the interesting part:
The test taker went to the recruiter and asked why an ipsistic test was used for comparative testing. The recruiter promised to explain why, if the two could have a meeting, but then made a complaint to the team management. Exactly what the recruiter said, the test taker was never told.

The team management then used an intermediary to tell the test taker that the test taker was expelled from the team. The team management would tell the rest of the team that the test taker had decided to quit the team.

There was to be no action against the recruiter, who had fooled more than 400 companies into using a test procedure could not identify, and even excluded, the people they were looking for. More than 14,000 people tested, and misclassified by a flawed test.

Considering that finding real talent, or not doing it, can be the difference between surviving and going down in burning flames, I'd say the repress and remove tactic can have pretty devastating consequences.

Who did what?

I wish adults could act more like children: Ethical, courageous, and prone to do the right thing, even when it is difficult.

You might not be too surprised when I tell you the team management who chose the repress and remove tactic included:

  • a CEO
  • a board member
  • a management consultant specializing in investigation dysfunctional management teams.

You may be more surprised when I tell you who the two people who, despite anger and screaming, managed to do productive work and strengthen their friendship:

  • Two eight year old children playing Minecraft
I have seen a child go and make up, even though he was so afraid he was crying. Still, on his own, he made the decision to resolve the matter in the best way possible. He knew what was the right thing to do!
I wish there were more childish people in management and leadership positions. Perhaps, we would then have better ways to resolve differences, and a better future for all.
What do you think? How should we resolve workplace conflicts? What is required to make a solution effective, rather than just talk and wishfull thinking?
If you have an opinion, please do comment.
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Cloud, private cloud, and virtualization are means of improving speed, agility, and cost of (manufacturing) IT. Discussion topics at the workshop we will hold aARCs European Industry Forum in Amsterdam on March 5 and 6 2014 could be:

- Which usage would be useful, profitable, and safe, for which application or process? 

- Are your users and IT departments prepared discussing the subject?  How can they be engaged in the discussion

- Which price to pay for a private Cloud application

In this workshop we will share what early adopters do, and through discussions among users and vendors providing you guidance in defining your roadmaps. 

Experts who would like to present a statement to prime the discussion, can manifest themselves by mailing to VdeLeeuw@ARCweb.com.  

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Keywords: ARC Industry Forum Europe, Energy Efficiency, Clariant, ISO50001

​At ARCs European Industry Forum in Amsterdam on March 5 and 6 2014 (http://bit.ly/1giLXQX), Dr. Meier from Clariant will report on the Company's Global, long term, ISO 50001-compliant energy efficiency initiative.

The presentation will summarise the vision and goals for energy and sustainability at Clariant, and the elements of the methodology e-Watch: operation and optimisation of production plants, ensuring business results and employee behaviour.  The presentation will report about the recent results of the program that is aligned with ISO 50001 for Energy Management Systems.   New components and results will be covered, such as execution of follow-up on energy checks, valuation of an operational tool, awareness training, and the joint approach on yield and energy efficiency.

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keywords: goals, performance, chronic stress, over challenge, leadership, emotional intelligence, competence, awareness, well-being, attention, effort, motivation, boredom

Daniel Goleman published an article this week about focusing the attention of teams, by protecting their agenda's against interruptions and distractions and by providing management encouragement.  Describing a specific example of an IT team, the article mentioned: "During those eight days the team was more motivated and happier than they had been in a long time, even though they were working extremely hard".  

I agree with the article and find it useful, but I was alerted by "working extremely hard".  "Very hard" would probably be OK for me, but "extremely hard" sounds excessive, although the rest of the sentence seems to indicate that it worked out positively for the team.  To me the question is "how long can the team sustain such an effort while preserving well-being and health"? and "How can we get great results and protect the team against burn-out"?  Here are a few thoughts:

When the goal is to easy to reach, the result is boredom and low levels of engagement.  If the goal is very difficult to reach or if the person has little influence on the results measured, the result is stress and demotivation.  (Stress inhibits cognitive capability, and is exhausting for the body).  So the art is to strike the balance, and challenge teams to a level that motivates them and enables them to deliver results.  Motivated people enjoy work, also hard work, and often they work hard because they are motivated. That is what the article talks about.  

However, when we push the team to delivering high effort, we should be aware the duration of the effort they can deliver is inversely proportional to the amplitude of the effort. Marathonians don't run as fast as sprinters.  And there is a risk, fo well-being and health, when the peak effort or duration increases.  When the frequency of effort-full periods increases, or this becomes chronic, motivation will decrease.  People will feel overstreched and disrespected.

The emotional intelligence of the leader will determine if he can strike the balance, and if he can keep his team motivated and stimulated, make them deliver efforts at sustainable levels. I believe the key is to have a level of awareness of ourselves and the team as mindfulness meditation helps developing. It is like being able to look over your own shoulder, or being able to take the backseat of your car and see yourself driving. The perspective you gain, enables you to correct, before the stress levels get out of hand.

My summary for performance management is: Performance and well-being can go hand in hand, by skilfully setting goals and monitoring the team. The leader needs high levels of awareness to do so. These can be reached by developing emotional skills, for example by training attention or mindfulness meditation.

Valentijn de Leeuw


Man at the heart of the enterprise



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Se mettre à la place de quelqu’un, c'est s’imaginer comment il peut se sentir dans une situation et cela s’appelle l’empathie cognitive.  C’est plus le raisonnement que le ressenti, qui nous guide.  Une étude a l’université de Birmingham à démontré que les managers qui ont cette empathie cognitive et l’utilisent avec bienveillance, arrivent à motiver les collaborateurs.   Il y a un coté sombre à cette empathie également.  Ce sont les manipulateurs et les sociopathes qui s’en servent au détriment de leur environnement.  Il n’ont aucune sympathie pour leurs victimes.  Les bourreaux qui torturent leurs victimes et certains politiciens talentueux ont cette capacité en abondance.

Un leader doit avoir du "sang froid” durant les moments de crise, dit-on.  C’est vrai que sous l’emprise de l’émotion, nous ne pouvons plus penser clairement ni agir efficacement. Pourtant le détachement total, est un désastre relationnel.  Nous connaissons tous les effets néfastes de la façon froide de communiquer un diagnostic ou un licenciement.  L’opposé extrême se produit quand le soignant ou responsable est submergé et souffre par les émotions,  tellement il ou elle ressent intensément les émotions de personnes en détresse.  Ce n'est pas seulement négatif pour la personne mais aussi pour son environnement.  Le soignant, le leader ou manager, peut réagir de la meilleure manière s’il ressent l’émotion en la maitrisant, lui permettant une réaction chaleureuse et approprié, qui soutient l’autre.  L’empathie que ressent l’émotion de l’autre directement, s’appelle l’empathie émotionnelle. 

Finalement il y a l’empathie compassionelle. Dans ce cas nous comprenons et ressentons l’émotion, et nous proposons naturellement notre aide ou soutien. Nous ne sont pas seulement capables de réagir de la bonne manière, mais nous le faisons.

Dans un futur blog nous parlerons de la maitrise du bon dosage de l'empathie.  C'est le développement des compétences émotionnelles qui le permet. 

Valentijn de Leeuw


L'homme au coeur de l'entreprise


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By Valentijn de Leeuw

Keywords: Grid Operation, Wind Power, Wind Turbine Control, Curtailment, Real-time Visibility, Produce to Forecast, Iberdrola Renewables, CORE  

Wind power has many environmental advantages and is becoming more economically competitive.  As a sustainable energy source, wind power is likely to continue to grow at a fast pace for the next decades. With wind power shares increasing in Europe -- ranging from 35 to 8 percent in Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and Germany -- a number of control challenges at both the turbine and transmission network (grid) levels surfaced during the past decade. Spain and other pioneering countries have gradually overcome these challenges.  Today, a significant wind power share has become a stabilizing factor of the network. 

When these challenges became apparent in Spain, the Spanish transmission network operator (TSO) was forced to issue setpoints to curtail wind power generation during certain periods of the day to balance supply and demand and guarantee safe operation.  To meet the setpoint, while maximizing economic performance, Iberdrola Renovables implemented real-time information solutions based on advanced technology from OSIsoft in its Renewable Energy Control Center (CORE) in Toledo, Spain.   Iberdrola Renovables is a worldwide leader in wind energy and a major player in Spain.

These solutions enabled the company to create visibility into assets at various levels of aggregation, plus obtain real-time information on anticipated power and actual wind power produced.  This formed the basis for an efficient and effective implementation of a new curtailing strategy recently agreed upon with the TSO.  This enabled the company to increase its wind power production by an average 30 percent during curtailment periods compared to the formerly used strategy and solution.  The company has expressed confidence that new way of working will help reduce wear and tear on its wind turbines. 

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mots clés / keywords: performance, productivité, bien-être, risques psychosociaux, influence, résultat, esprit d’équipe, climat de travail, prévention du stress, changement, exigence, méditation de pleine conscience, attention vigilante, focus, résilience au stress 

Le leadership peut s’exprimer dans la vie privée, associative ou professionnelle.  Le leadership dans le management de personnes, est un ensemble de compétences, comportements et responsabilités.  C’est ensemble a été bien étudié et identifié et nous l’enseignons dans le cours “Techniques de Leadership, les clés d’un travail d’équipe performant”.   Beaucoup de ces comportements et compétences, reposent sur l’intelligence émotionnelle (IE), de plus en plus souvent appelés “compétences émotionnelles”, car il s’agit d’aptitudes que l’on peut apprendre, et à tout age.  

Les compétences émotionnelles nous permettent de créer un climat de travail positif et stimulant.  Imaginez-vous dans un tel environnement et vous savez intuitivement que vous serez moins distraits, et plus performants dans un tel environnement.   Vous aurez moins de stress, et votre bien-être s’en portera mieux.  

Aujourd’hui les résultats de recherches scientifiques nous permettent de caractériser le leader émotionnellement intelligent.  Ce leader se connait, et reconnait l’ambiance.  Il est capable de s’exprimer en tenant compte de ce qui vit dans l’organisation et de recentrer les efforts après une perturbation, ou un stress, sans en rajouter.  Il est capable de réorienter des individus et des groupes, c’est à dire catalyser le changement, sans forcer les gens, et de cette façon il favorise l’adaptation face à un environnement toujours changeant et de plue en plus exigeant.   Les difficultés et les échecs rencontrés sont transformés en apprentissage et font avancer l’organisation au lieu de la démoraliser.  Sa capacité de résoudre les conflits de manière positive et ouverte et de créer un esprit d’entente, d’entraide et de confiance permet à l’organisation d’être productive et efficace.  

Les aptitudes émotionnelles permettent le leader d’être authentique et intègre et d’être respecté et reconnu par l’organisation.  Cela lui donne une influence naturelle, et lui permet d’être efficace quand il défend son équipe, une opinion, ou s’il s’agit de sécuriser des ressources pour mener le travail à bien.  Les compétentes émotionnelles rendent plus résilient devant l’adversité et aident d’être optimiste.  Ce leader a confiance en lui, de manière réalité et sans arrogance.

Il n’y a aucun stress qui soit bénéfique pour la personne ou pour l’organisation.  Contrairement au idées reçues, au delà de niveaux faibles le stress et la pression sont délétères pour le physique et les capacités psychiques des employés.   Un manager émotionnellement intelligent est capable de conjuguer le bien-être au travail sera conjugué à la performance et l’épanouissement des employés.  Ces compétences sont donc la meilleure prévention du stress et des risques psychosociaux au travail.

Comment développer les compétences émotionnelles?  Beaucoup de recherches récentes en psychologie appliquée et neurosciences nous on permis de créer une formation qui construit les bases des compétences émotionnelles, et qui permettent chaque manager de personnes, de continuer de s’exercer et de s’améliorer le long de son parcours, en cultivant l'attention et de devenir ce leader que les gens reconnaîtront comme un des meilleurs manager qu’il n’ont jamais eu. 

Le cours de trois jours, “Intelligence émotionnelle, devenir un leader efficicace”, sera donné en Avril et en Juin 2014, ou à la demande.  Pour plus d’informations:  http://www.learningtree.fr/courses/3411/intelligence-emotionnelle-devenir-un-leader-efficace/, ou contactez moi:v.deleeuw@controlchaingroup.com, 06 89 68 43 59

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Keywords, mots clés: leadership, management, encadrement, responsable, formation, Learning Tree, Paris, performance, risques psychosociaux, équipe, motivation, climat de travail, gestion de conflit, personalités

Le Leadership n'est peut-etre pas encore bien compris dans toutes les strates organisationnelles, mais le sujet est étudié et bien défini par les sciences sociales depuis des decennies.   Le Leadership est un ensemble de comportements et compétences et est surtout une responsablitité.  

Dans la formation "Techniques de leadership pour un travail d'équipe performant" de Learning Tree, nous vous expliquons le Leadership, dans le contexte du management de personnes, qu'il s'agisse es services ou d'équipe projets, qu'il s'agisse d'environnement technique ou informatique ou autre.  Car ce sont les relations humaines qui sont au centre.

Nous parlerons aussi de techniques de management, des choses qu'il faut simplement savoir pour etre un manager efficace:  comment motiver les équipes, comment améliorer les processes et les performances savoir communiquer et être compris, comment gérer les différences, les personnalités difficiles ou les conflits.

A quoi ça sert?  A créer un climat de travail positif, dans lequel les personnes seront plus productifs, et ou les conflits se reglent en douceur.  A créer des relations de travail de confiance où vous pouvez vous reposer sur les personnes et vice versa.  A réduire les risques psychosociaux. Conjuger la performance avec le bien-etre est possible.  C'est prouvé et nos techniques sont éprouvés.

Plus d'informations?  Contactez-moi au 06 89 68 43 59 ou explorez www.learningtree.fr




I will spend the day preparing for a really fun day in Stockholm.

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Keywords: Scenario Planning, Chemicals, 2050, Resources, Economy, Society, Products, Materials, Processus, Supply Chain, Collaboration models, Business Models, Information Technology

Scenario planning is a useful tool for creating awareness of likely and unlikely future developments.  It prepares for change, it can help in testing and refining strategies, and it puts our knowledge of the context and assumptions about those potential future developments to a test. 

In many instances we prepare a single strategy corresponding to what we believe the most likely scenario is for the future.  Scenario planning makes us realize we can manage risk by defining variants of the company strategy, corresponding to different scenarios.  If a change happens, and another scenario becomes more likely, a company can switch to the appropriate strategy variant.

Scenarios are specific for a company since the deal with future developments that matter to that company in its context.  We need to research what those developments could be.  For chemicals we believe that the important areas for research are:

  • Economy and agriculture
  • Energy and resources
  • Society and international cooperation
  • Innovation and technology

Within those area’s, a number of themes can defined, such as:

  • Products and materials
  • Processes and Supply Chain models
  • Collaboration and business models
  • Information technology

To develop building blocks for scenarios we need to understand which forces drive those themes and how they relate to each other.  It is possible that feedback mechanisms between outcomes and forces create oscillations.  The cyclic activities in the petrochemical industries are a good example.  Some developments could cause major changes, or disruptions, such as a major war or climate disaster)

Once we have the building blocks of potential developments and their likelihood, we can construct the scenario’s, apply and disseminate them.  A good example of scenario’s specific for a company are the Shell energy scenario’s.  Their short versions are made public and can be consulted here:  http://www.shell.com/global/future-energy/scenarios.html

At the International SAP Conference for Chemicals, held on September 29th and October first in Frankfurt, (http://uk.tacook.com/fileadmin/files/2_Events/2_UK-Europe/Events_2013/Chemicals/Brochure/Chemicals_Brochure.pdf?tracked=1) we presented building blocks for constructing scenario’s for the chemicals industries.  Based on those we identified the following threats and opportunities for chemicals:



We believe the industry can reach radical cost improvements, related to

  • Further utility and supply chain integration
  • Local production, of global and local products supported by global centers of expertise
  • Simultaneous multi-horizon optimization of production, quality, compliance, asset value and energy consumption
  • The management of computing assets and their utilities

Knowledge management, new ways of learning and skill development are another opportunity.

The chemicals industry can achieve radical sustainability improvements by using biological feedstock and biotechnological processes. 

Demand will grow based on population growth, and new materials, such as high performance and health-related materials will create growth based on new needs.  

Processes might be offered as a service (PaaS), for example recycling and CO2 capture processes and will experience important growth.  Vertical integration may revive to secure raw materials that will become more and more scarce.



  • The innovation capability could be insufficient to develop the industry’s capability and growth from application results. 
  • New materials may introduce new health risks.
  • When sustainable resources in large quantities become available too late, material scarcity may limit industry output, by quantity or by price
  • The cost ICT could become prohibitive related to energy and water consumption
  • The adaptation of processes and tools to needs by Millennials and beyond could be difficult and inhibit growth or performance.
  • Highly dynamic supply chains based on small and mobile production units are an important opportunity for efficiency, but may also create difficult-to-manage instabilities.
  • The scarcity of resources exacerbates the dependency on suppliers and geopolitical tension or international cooperation.
  • Low wages will be a disappearing target: wages will level out globally.
  • Product cycles continue to shorten, and demand even higher innovation capability, faster adaptation of production processes and more agile production and supply chains.

In an upcoming ARC Strategy we will report in detail on our research of the different areas and their consequences for the chemicals-related themes.  We will highlight how developments in automation and information technology will impact the industry, its people and its processes.  We will explain in the rationale for the opportunities and threats listed above in detail.

If you have questions or would like to have more information, don’t hesitate to contact the author at VdeLeeuw@ARCweb.com or V.deleeuw@controlchaingroup.com



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Dear Participant,

Almost a year ago we launched the Survey about Maturity of Automation, Instrumentation, Operations Management and Integration to help you answering the question: what is the right level of automation in my situation.  

We thank you for your participation.  We thank all of you, and in particular the end-users who have contributed making the results significant and of value to all categories of respondents. It is time to keep our promise and provide you the report.  We also include the summary presentation.  Both can be downloaded from this blog.

In addition to knowing the maturity of technologies, we would also like to understand how these evolve and so we will launch this survey very soon again to know of your opinions changed and by how much.  If you have suggestions for technologies that we should consider this year, please let us know by email reply.  Of course I am also available for any question you may have.

Looking forward to hearing from you,
Best regards


Valentijn de Leeuw

Associate,  Control Chain Group, v.deleeuw@controlchaingroup.com

Director, ARC Advisory Group Europe, vdeleeuw@ARCweb.com


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Keywords: sustainabilty, R&D, Chemicals, BASF 

Summary: It makes sense for BASF to focus research on chemicals that improve sustainability. The real shift in BASF's R&D approach is to target economic feasibility of those applications.  I believe this will lead to marketable sustainble products quicker, and that these solutions are likely to be applied.  This increases the chances of improving sustainability before it is too late.

Blog: Sean Milmo's article in Chemanager online reported recently on the shift in R&D focus at BASF.

In view of important and urgent needs to improve sustainabilityrelated to resource scarcity and climate change - confirmed again by the IPCC at the end of September 2013 -  it is just common sense to focus R&D in areas where chemicals can contribute to improving sustainability.  The real shift in approach is that BASF target economic and environmental feasibility of applications of these chemicals.  Examples in the article are the durability of wind mills and the efficiency levels of future film-based photovoltaic technologies.

I am personally convinced that the urgency to improve sustainability is very high.  The BASF approach gives me confidence that research will not only lead to solutions, but that it will lead to solutions quicker, and that these solutions are likely to be applied based on their economic feasibility.  It is also likely that competition will follow this approach and that chances increase that our children and grandchildren can enjoy a similar quality of life as ours.

Any other opinions on this subject?


Bristol Myers Squibb
Chipita International
CRP Henri Tudor
GDF Suez
Haute Ecole Léonard de Vinci-ECAM
Hellenic Petroleum
Le Gouessant
Public Power Corporation