The Frozen Bird

A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground into a large field. While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was. The dung was actually thawing … [ Read more ]

The Way People Treat Each Other

Rabbi Haim of Romshishok was an itinerant preacher. He traveled from town to town delivering religious sermons that stressed the importance of respect for one’s fellow man. He often began his talks with the following story:

“I once ascended to the firmaments. I first went to see Hell and the sight was horrifying. Row after row of tables were laden with platters of sumptuous … [ Read more ]

Reframing Your Business Equation

The EOQ formula dates back to the Industrial Revolution and a 1913 article by Ford Whitman Harris, a self-trained engineer at Westinghouse Electric Company, in Factory: The Magazine of Management, a relic of another era. The article showed how to balance the fixed cost of ordering or producing a batch of goods with the cost of carrying the inventory between order periods. Graphically displayed with … [ Read more ]

What is Value?

Charles Steinmetz was once called out of retirement by General Electric to help it locate a problem in an intricate system of complex machines. Having spent some time tinkering with and testing various parts of the system, he finally placed a chalk-marked ‘X’ on a small component in one machine. GE’s engineers promptly examined the component, and were amazed to find the defect in the … [ Read more ]

A Violinist in the Metro

A Violinist in the Metro

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousand of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by … [ Read more ]

Confusing What is Truly Ours and What Others Grant Us

Almost one thousand years ago, in Moslem Spain, there lived a Jew named Rabbi Samuel the Prince. He was very wise, and rose to great power, becoming the Sultan’s treasurer. This aroused the jealousy of the other ministers, who planted rumors that Rabbi Samuel was embezzling money from the royal treasury.

The Sultan decided to put Rabbi Samuel to the test. One day, without warning, he … [ Read more ]

Honor the Stories of Others

In 1999, I was invited to speak in Wellington, New Zealand. … The invitation came from the Women’s Leaders Network, a group that brought together women from around the world ….

A fascinating thing happened the day before I spoke. During a Q&A session…, a woman stood up and began to tell a story about her life. When she was finished, several other women stood up … [ Read more ]

Think Outside the Box

You are driving along in your car on a wild, stormy night, it’s raining heavily, when suddenly you pass by a bus stop, and you see three people waiting for a bus:

  • An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.
  • An old friend who once saved your life.
  • The perfect partner you have been dreaming about.

Which one would you choose to offer a ride … [ Read more ]

Know Your Worth

A woman approached Picasso in a restaurant, asked him to scribble something on a napkin, and said she would be happy to pay whatever he felt it was worth. Picasso complied and then said, “That will be $10,000.”

“But you did that in thirty seconds,” the astonished woman replied.

“No,” Picasso said. “It has taken me forty years to do that.”

Source: What They Don’t[ Read more ]

The Story Behind Kanban

In an article from, ex-Toyota Group manager Chihiro Nakao relates his experience with Taiichi Ohno, who originated Toyota’s Lean Production in collaboration with Shigeo Shingo. Here’s the punchline:

As Mr. Taiichi Ohno drove deeper and deeper in the effort to achieve Just in Time ideals among the companies of the Toyota Group, […] the struggle was to keep people from [ordering] too much too

[ Read more ]