Principle 10: Learn to Extract the Talent From Your Teams | Lean Principles

Extract the talent from your people

“Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with a passion.”
– Brian Chesky, Co-Founder, CEO, Airbnb

As a company, it is no longer good enough to simply invest in your people. Not only do you need to develop your people, but you also need to be great at it. And it is just not about developing either. But extracting new untapped knowledge, capabilities and strengths.

With Covid-19, we will have to learn to do more with less. As the ball begins to roll and our “new-normal” operations get up and running, many companies will be low on staff and running skelton crews for social distancing. You may have lost key knowledge with the scale and depth of some changes.

But what is sure is that every one of us and all your employees will need to take on tasks and challenges that they will be unfamiliar with.

The way we all need to support each other is to create an environment where it’s ok if things go wrong for a while. People will make mistakes and lots of them. But the way we react will decide how well we succeed for the rest of this year and into 2020.

We have to be prepared for things to go wrong but also be ready to learn faster than ever before.


By acknowledging the “knowledge society”, the value your team create is not based on simple production, but on how they find better and smarter ways of working.

And today, the HR or Training department need to stop thinking in simple terms of people management, essential leadership and financial courses. These are the basics, narrow and quite specialised. Today, we have to have a broader view of how to develop your people.

Fact: The ideas that will change tomorrow will no longer come from focused management training found within the traditional corporate training packages.

In the book “In Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialised World”, David Esptein explores why we need to learn broader than before and why conceptual models need to expand rather than specific learning.

“Modern work demands knowledge transfer: the ability to apply knowledge to new situations and different domains. Our most fundamental thought processes have changed to accommodate increasing complexity and the need to derive new patterns rather than rely only on familiar ones. Our conceptual classification schemes provide a scaffolding for connecting knowledge, making it accessible and flexible.”

When you invest in your people, invest in their conceptual models which reflect your company culture. Invest wide and broad and allow your employees to explore what interests them, even when its not part of the corporate catalogue.

To bring this back to Lean training – Lean training is a conceptual model for problem-solving to achieve more value. Yes, there is a toolbox, but the real strength is in the models which allow us to attack vastly different problems and fit in new tools as we see fit. Lean Startup conceptually is no different than traditional Lean Thinking. It is just the application in a fast new company where we have yet to understand what the customer values fully.

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