Chapter 3. Career Options - Great Ways to Be a Foresight Leader

5. Operations


Operations is responsible for the delivery of products and services. It has no primary foresight responsibility in a typical firm, but it does have a need to look ahead, like every department. It typically looks ahead on a more short-term, week to week and quarter to quarter time horizon.

Operations leaders have secondary responsibility for at least two foresight subspecialties:

1. Product, Service, and Project Management (a Management & Leadership subspecialty),
2. Quality (a Benchmarking & Quality subspecialty).

Product, Service, and Project Management are all core practices that help improve foresight in this department. Terry Schmidt’s Strategic Project Management Made Simple (2009), and Clark Campbell’s The One Page Project Manager (2012) are two good primers for this practice. The ideal operations manager is a great team player. They may be a middle manager working under top leadership and above line staff, and collaborating with the largest number of other departments, as so many departments have an impact on product and service delivery.

As an application of Pareto’s law, the 80/20 Rule, discussed in Chapter 1, some business analysts propose that organizational changes are usually 80% evolutionary (incremental changes, falling often under the realm of Operations) and 20% revolutionary (major innovations, the realm of R&D, top leadership initiatives). Whether this is true or not, the operations manager, like many managers, spends the large majority of their time and effort on making small efficiency or capacity improvements in internal business processes. They are often either learning how to affordably scale up their production to meet growing demand, or learning how to do more with less, or at times, both.

Quality, or quality control, is a key responsibility and foresight specialty shared between operations and the metrics and planning department. Fortunately there is a 130-year-old literature on continuous improvement and quality beginning with the manufacturing efficiency and labor productivity advances of Frederick Taylor’s scientific management (Taylorism) in the 1880s. The Toyota Way (2003) is a good intro to Toyota’s methods for continuous quality improvement, including the Kanban system for lean, just-in-time production. These methods allowed Toyota to use superior speed of execution, small batch learning and production, and quality as key strategies to grow steadily against much larger auto companies in the 1970s, to their dominant global position today.

Sutherland (2014)

Sutherland (2014)

One of the more exciting advances in operations in the last decade has been the generalization of the Toyota Production System as lean and agile methodology. Scrum is a very simple and very optimized set of lean and agile workflow methods, based on the Do loop, which allow extremely fast learning and doing cycles and fantastic performance gains for small teams. Read Sutherland’s Scrum (2014) for a great primer. This is currently the best book on operations for small teams that I’ve ever read. Read it, and change the way you work.

Want to be amazed operationally? Take a look at Wikispeed, a small scrum-based manufacturer that creates hand-built, 100+MPG cars for $25,000, one at at time, using a vastly accelerated operations process they call Extreme Manufacturing. Once you understand how fast, powerful, capable, efficient, and affordable scrum-based small teams can be, you’ll ask how to get that kind of decentralized yet accountable operations into everything we do. Could you imagine a scrum-driven health care system? A scrum-based urgent care and hospital network? One day, something like this might come to pass.

Lean Six Sigma, which combines Six Sigma quality with lean manufacturing speed initiatives, and agile methodology for IT work are two leading operations methods today. The Lean Six Sigma Toolbook (2004) introduces several useful management tools for speed and quality improvement.

Superior operations (quality, speed, product mix) are often worked for as a sustainable competitive advantage. Another leader in this respect is Zara, image77a Spanish retailer of clothing and accessories, used rapid prototyping, vertical integration, and supply chain automation to raise its operations tempo to two weeks, from new product development to store deployment, versus six months for the typical fashion retailer. This sustained advantage, along with continual market research on the latest global fashion trends, has allowed it to become a global leader in “fast fashion.”

Without any advertising budget, and violating the predictions of the standard business strategy playbook, Zara’s parent company Inditex Group has used this market research, operations, and quality-driven strategy become the world’s largest apparel retailer since opening its first store in 1975. Their rise to global success is one of many inspiring examples of operational excellence and foresight.

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Table of Contents


Chapter 2. Personal Foresight – Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Chapter 2: Personal Foresight

Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Chapter 4. Models – Foundations for Organizational Foresight

Chapter 4: Models

Foundations for Organizational Foresight

Chapter 7. Acceleration – Guiding Our Extraordinary Future

Chapter 7: Acceleration

Guiding Our Extraordinary Future (In Process)

II. Global Progress: 5 Goals, 10 Values, Many Trends

Innovation: Our Abundant Future
Intelligence: Our Augmented Future
Interdependence: Our Civil Future
Immunity: Our Protected Future
Sustainability: Our Rebalanced Future

III. Universal Accelerating Change

Great Race to Inner Space: Our Surprising Future
Entropy&Information: We’re Running Down & Up
The Puzzle of Meaning: We Have No Einstein Yet
Trees, Funnels & Landscapes: Intro to Evo Devo
Big Picture Change: Five Scales of Accelerating ED
Transcension Hypothesis: Where Acceleratn Ends?
IDABDAK: Social Response to Accel & Developmnt
We’re On a Runaway Train: Being Accelaware

IV. Evo Devo and Exponential Foresight

Seeing It All: Accel., Diverg, Adapt, Convrg, Decel.
Natural (I4S) Innovation: The Evolutionary Drive
Natural (I4S) Intelligence: The Human-AI Partnership
Natural (I4S) Morality: Why Empathy and Ethics Rule
Natural (I4S) Security: Strength from Disruption
Natural (I4S) Sustainability: The Developmental Drive
S-Curves: Managing the Four Constituencies
Pain to Gain: Traversing the Three Kuznets Phases
Hype to Reality: Beyond Hype Cycles to Reality Checks
Exponentials Database: Measuring Accelerations
TINA Trends: Societal Evolutionary Development
Managing Change: STEEPCOP Events, Probs, Ideas
A Great Shift: A Survival to a Sentient Economy

V. Evo Devo and Exponential Activism

Building Protopias: Five Goals of Social Progress
Normative Foresight: Ten Values of Society
Top & STEEPCOP Acceleratns: Positive & Negative
Dystopias, Risks, and Failure States
Three Levels of Activism: People, Tech & Universe
A Great Opportunity: Exponential Empowerment


Chapter 8. Your Digital Self – The Human Face of the Coming Singularity

Chapter 8: Your Digital Self

The Human Face of the Coming Singularity (In Process)

I. Your Personal AI (PAI): Your Digital Self

Digital Society: Data, Mediation, and Agents
Personal AIs: Advancing the Five Goals
PAI Innovation: Abundance and Diversity
PAI Intelligence: Bio-Inspired AI
PAI Morality: Selection and Groupnets
PAI Security: Safe Learning Agents
PAI Sustainability: Science and Balance
The Human Face of the Coming Singularity

II. PAI Protopias & Dystopias in 8 Domains

1. Personal Agents: News, Ent., Education
2. Social Agents: Relat. and Social Justice
3. Political Agents :  Activism & Represent.
4. Economic Agents:  Retail, Finance, Entrep
5. Builder Agents :  Work, Innov. & Science
6. Environ. Agents : Pop. and Sustainability
7. Health Agents :  Health, Wellness, Death
8. Security Agents :  Def., Crime, Corrections

III. PAI Activism & Exponential Empowerment

Next Government: PAIs, Groupnets, Democ.
Next Economy: Creat. Destr. & Basic Income
Next Society: PAI Ent., Mortality & Uploading
What Will Your PAI Contribution Be?

Chapter 10. Startup Ideas – Great Product & Service Challenges for Entrepreneurs

Chapter 10: Startup Ideas

Great Product and Service Challenges for Entrepreneurs (In Process)

I. 4U’s Idea Hub: Building Better Futures

Air Deliveries and Air Taxis: Finally Solving Urban Gridlock
Ballistic Shields and Gun Control: Protecting Us All from Lone Shooters
Bioinspiration Wiki: Biomimetics and Bio-Inspired Design
Brain Preservation Services: Memory and Mortality Redefined
Carcams: Document Thieves, Bad Driving, and Bad Behavior
Competition in Govt Services: Less Corruption, More Innovation
Computer Adaptive Education (CAE): Better Learning and Training
Conversational Deep Learning Devsuites: Millions of AI Coders
Digital Tables: Telepresence, Games, Entertainment & Education
Dynaships: Sustainable Low-Speed Cargo Shipping
Electromagnetic Suspension: Nausea-Free Working & Reading in Cars
Epigenetic Health Tests: Cellular Aging, Bad Diet, Body Abuse Feedback
Fireline Explosives and Ember Drones: Next-Gen Fire Control
Global English: Empowering the Next Generation of Global Youth
Greenbots: Drone Seeders and Robotic Waterers for Mass Regreening
High-Density Housing and Zoning: Making Our Cities Affordable Again
Highway Enclosures and Trail Networks: Green and Quiet Urban Space
Inflatable Packaging: Faster and Greener Shipping and Returns
Internet of Families: Connecting People Over Things
Kidcams: Next-Gen Security for Child Safety and Empowerment
Kidpods: Indoor & Outdoor Parent-Assistive Toyboxes
Microdesalination: Democratizing Sustainable Fresh Water Production
Noise Monitors: Documenting and Reducing Noise Pollution
Oceanside Baths: Sustainable Year Round Beach Enjoyment
Open Blood Scanners: DIY Citizen Health Care Sensor Tech
Open Streaming Radio: User-Centered Audio Creation and Rating
Open Streaming Video: User-Centered Video Creation and Rating
Open Values Filters: Social Rankers, Arg. Mappers, and Consensus Finders
Personal AIs: Your Private Advisor, Activist, and Interface to the World
Pet Empowerment: Next-Gen Rights and Abilities for Our Domestic Animals
Safe Closets: Fire-, Earthquake-, and Intruder-Proof Retreat Spaces
Safe Cars: Reducing Our Insane 1.3M Annual Auto Deaths Today
Safe Motorcycles: Lane Splitting in Gridlock Without Risk of Death
Shared Value Insurance: User-Centered Risk Reduction Services
Sleeperbuses and Microhotels: Demonetized Intercity Travel
Space-Based Solar Power: Stratellite Powering and Weather Management
Stratellites: Next-Gen Urban Broadband, Transparency, and Security
Touch DNA: Next-Gen Home Security and Crime Deterrence
View Towers: Improving Urban Walkability, Inspiration, and Community

Chapter 11. Evo Devo Foresight – Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

Chapter 11: Evo Devo Foresight

Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

Appendix 1. Peer Advice – Building a Successful Foresight Practice