Andrew Canion

Thoughts on technology, business and productivity.

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Month: October 2017 (page 1 of 3)

A Place for Everything

Over the past five years I’ve spent a lot of time learning the fundamental philosophies of a production system known as lean. I’ve read books and articles, I’ve taken a study tour to see lean in action in Japan. I’ve developed lean guides for business, and coached companies in the theory and implementation. Yet despite all of this, I still consider myself a beginner1.

Most of my lean work has been in relation to the manufacturing sector but the principles can also be applied to healthcare, food preparation, administration, and software development, to name a few. IT has even created further derivations such as kanban and agile.

Lean origins

Toyota is the company that can be credited for originally demonstrating the value of lean through their own Toyota Production System. Implemented with the help of Edward Deming after World War II, the company has embraced the lean philosophy of continuous improvement ever since. The company is now the gold standard with respect to lean implementation.

The theory of lean is much like an onion: there are many layers to it (and implementing it might sometimes make you cry!) Trying to emulate the Toyota Production System at the outset is an effort not worth taking, but any company can do implement some simple elements without too much trouble if they commit.

The best way to start

To get started I recommend following the exact same advice my Grandma used to give:

“a place for everything and everything in its place”

Yes, it’s as easy as that.

This concept represents one of the basic tenets of 5S. 5S is all about keeping things neat and orderly within the context of a lean workplace. Make sure if you take something, use something, or move something, that it gets put back once it has served its purpose. This approach will make it easier for your future self or somebody else to find a thing in the future. It will prevent the need to buy another thing because you couldn’t find the original thing. It will reduce stress and anger when you can’t find the thing you need at the time you need it.

Simply make sure everything has a home and that it always lives at home when not in use. Good tip, Grandma.


  1. In lean of course, maintaining a ‘beginner’s mind’ is a good thing as it keeps you open to new ideas and opportunities for improvement. 

According to my 6 year old son, the angels ‘respawned’ Jesus after he died on the cross. Too much Minecraft?

Little photographer.

Seriously contemplating buying a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud for Photographers. New products may have put most people off but it built interest for me. It would also provide an impetus for me to get back into ‘proper’ photography.

Micro Blogging

Twitter continues to descend into a morass of bad behaviour while simultaneously floundering in search of a viable business model that might deliver a return for the billions in capital it has consumed1. The future of Twitter does not look bright, either socially or financially. As a result, I am experimenting with other platforms for expressing my random and (inconsequential?) thoughts.

Facebook, while having a more profitable and successful business model, is still yucky for a bunch of other reasons. These are predominantly centred around the fact that all of the content is just grist for their sales model. Facebook is a classic walled garden, and the business depends on keeping you active and contained within their domain.

One of the things that got me interested in the internet in the early-to-mid 1990’s was the open-ness of it all. Anybody could publish anything, and it was all equally accessible. The Internet removed the barriers created by Bulletin Board Systems and Compuserve and delivered an open, level playing field. Since then, we have gone full circle, and now we are providing our content free of charge, directly to private companies like Twitter and Facebook (including Instagram) which they are then able to monetise for their own benefit.

Micro.blog

Manton Reece has built an interesting alternative to these closed systems. With the help of Kickstarter funding, he created micro.blog. This is a system designed to allow the publishing of short posts, in the same style as tweets, but built upon a foundation of open access. In my instance, I can post an entry at micro.blog. Through the magic of RSS, micro.blog makes available a content feed but the material is actually being published and hosted via my own WordPress blog. For the time being, I have set up a separate page from this blog to display my micro.blog entries.

Of course, this is far from a mainstream approach. It’s not nearly as easy as setting up a new Twitter account. There is only a relatively small, pretty nerdy community using micro.blog at the moment. Of course, that’s also how Twitter started, back when it was good.

Cross-posting

Discoverability of content becomes the challenge when working outside the established networks. For the moment, I still have my micro-blog entries cross-posting to Facebook and Twitter. If I didn’t do that, it’s likely that nobody 2 would be able to enjoy my witty repartee. While cross-posting is not ideal, at least I’m only providing those sites with links that track back to my own content – I’m not just feeding their machines. If I quit the service, or if they fail, I will still have my content in my possession, at my own hosted site.

The Open Web

This concept of my content being mine, and to have it accessible outside the walled gardens created by the Internet behemoths that are private companies with their duty to act in the interests of shareholders – not users, is the essence of the open web.

Being able to link to content with direct URLs, and to have that content able to be indexed by search engines, is part of the open web also.

Of course there are still financial transactions and business relationships involved but they are apparent. I pay a hosting company money. In exchange they provide me with storage space, access to a web server and a connection to the Internet. There is no middle-man, no other services are trying to monetise or advertise against my content. It’s pure and straightforward. The content remains mine, to do with as I wish.

Finally, of course, noodling around with all of this is also a really great hobby.


  1. On 26 December 2013, Twitter was valued at US$39.9 billion. On 20 October 2017, it’s valued at US$13.2 billion. 
  2. As opposed to a tiny few. 

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