Jun 29, 2011

Book I read - The Toyota Way

Mainly because of interest to Agile SW development and Lean thinking, I read The Toyota Way -14 management principles from the world's greatest manufacturer from Jeffrey K. Liker. Like it says, it's a book about Toyota much praised manufacturing system.

Whole idea behind the book is to give an better view what makes Toyota manufacturing system such a good one. It introduces TPS (Toyota Production System), Kanban and lots of other systems they use.Still most importantly it tells about the importance of company culture, continuous learning and true understanding about the thinking behind TPS.

I've always been a big fan of thinking, "understand before you act" and that seems to be one of the key principles in Toyota also. Almost everywhere in this book it comes obvious that thorough understanding is the key to success. Hiding true problems behind quick win fixes is not profitable in the long run.

I really liked the book. It opens quite well the thinking behind TPS and the culture what they have there in Toyota. Of course it's just a tip of iceberg you understand based on one book, but at least I think it's the right ice berg to understand. Just trying to learn Kanban and Lean by how others are doing it, easily misses lot of very important aspects of the whole methodology.

I would recommend this book to all of you interested about Lean or TPS. Also those of you who see it beneficial to understand different kind companies, business models, manufacturing and company culture's.

The only small recommendation I would like to give to Dr Liker is, that maybe in the next edition there could be glossary, since there's so many terms flying around all the time, it's sometimes bit tricky to keep on track of all those.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jun 28, 2011

How to make credit cards much more safe

I have simple idea how they could make credit cards much more safe. Often when credit (or bank) cards are stolen, first thieves get somehow to know your pin code. They look over shoulder or even there are these machines that videotape or record you pin code. Then they steal your card and use it asap.

What if credit cards would have two pin codes. Those would be then used after each other. So you would have codes 1234 and 5678. When you are buying something you would this time give 1234. Then on the next buy, or withdraw from ATM, you would use 5678. Then on the next you would again use 1234. Simple.

This would make thieves life much harder. If they would track you and somehow see what was the pin code you used, they couldn’t steal your card right away, since that code wouldn’t work. To somehow track your both pin codes is much harder I think.

What do you think? Isn’t it a cheap and easy way to increase security with credit cards?

This was originally posted 17.12.2010 at lostinux.wordpress.com. I've closed that blog of mine and I'm re-posting some of the most popular and best posts from there to here.  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jun 23, 2011

Blogging in Summer vs Winter in Finland

Here's an explanation to all why it's so hard to stay in and blog during summer in Finland. And also why it is so easy to stay home and sit with computer during winter time.

Check this video out comparing Finnish Summer and Finnish Winter.

Thanks for jpakkane1 for this really cool video.
Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jun 21, 2011

What can we learn from UX in Grocery store

Have you ever thought user experience on grocery store. They have been thinking it for much longer than anyone on IT. Here’s my observations.

Often first ones when you come in are the fruits and vegetables. I think those have a couple of meanings. First those most often look nice and give a fresh look to the store. Second those actually takes most of the time in store, so having those first make store look popular, since there is always people there. Third, most of the people will always get something from that section, so it is convenient to have it first, to minimize the trouble from everyone.

Shelves in the store are designed so that in the level of the eye and hand there are the most popular and most used items. In the top and bottom shelves are niche products, which users of those will find even from non optimal places.

Many stores also use the trick on placing products, which have a best before date coming sooner, on the right side of line of products. There are more right-handed people, so those products will get sold before the date from the right side.

Then thinking about cash desk. There are products which are often bought impulsively, like candies and soft drinks. Also close to cash desks there are products which are easy to steal, so cash personnel can try to take an eye on those ones.

In addition, there’s lot of stuff ongoing in the background making sure there are things to sell and those are fresh. Logistics and everything is meant to be silent and unnoticed, still having one of the most important parts of user experience. If there’s nothing to sell in grocery store, user experience is always terrible.

If you compare this to any software, it’s not that different. You want your customers to think this is fresh and easy to use. You want to look popular. You want your content to be there. You want people to exploit some new stuff also on the way. UX in grocery store and SW are not that different. And I actually think no user experience is that different from another.

This was originally posted 6.12.2010 at lostinux.wordpress.com. I've closed that blog of mine and I'm re-posting some of the most popular and best posts from there to here.
Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jun 20, 2011

Old blog, new blog, this blog

I've done some changes in my blogging. I've quit my blogging project Lost in UX, which was focusing on customer experience, user experience and software development. I didn't have the capacity to blog regularly enough, so it's better to call it off, than do it halfway. I'm going to still sometimes blog about those subjects (customer experience, user experience and software), but I'm going to do it under this blog.

Most probably most of you didn't ever visit that blog, so I'm going to re-post couple of my best and most popular posts from there to here. There's going to be clear mention which of those are re-posts.

Also I've had for long time a need to blog about stuff considering Finland. Most of those are things that don't interest any of non-Finns, so I started a new blog in Finnish for that. Blog is called Toisaalta (toisaalta.wordpress.com), which means "on the other hand". If you are Finnish speaker, please check it out.

Thanks for checking these out.
Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jun 8, 2011

Steve Jobs presenting Apple new headquarters plan

No one can argue that Apple is one of the most innovative companies in the world. Much of it personalizes to Steve Jobs. You've most probably seen videos he talking in Apple press conferences and events, but those are carefully planned events that doesn't reveal much about the personality of Mr Jobs. Here's on the other hand footage from Cupertino town hall meeting from yesterday (7.6.2011) where he is presenting their plan and vision for the new headquarters for Apple to Cupertino.

In this video it's refreshing to see him to reveal his thinking about well-being of his employees, his commitments to his home town and the whole thinking behind Apple's desire for calm and beautiful design. I think this thinking perfectly reveals the importance of the soft values, like having enough nature available for employees, in Apple's thinking of making it perfect.

I think I figured out, from this single 20 minute video, much more about Mr. Jobs way of thinking than tens of articles I've read about him. Watch it with careful thinking if you like:

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jun 7, 2011

My love and hate for telesellers

I don't honestly like when they try to sell me something via phone. It's really annoying. Still I have to tell you about two calls I've got. They just come up with such a inviting offers, that I just admire the creativity.

Recently I got a call from salesgirl. She quickly introduced herself and said that they have decided to give me travel magazine for free for whole year! Wow that's an offer that sounded bit too good to be true for me. She right away asked how I felt about the magazine and offer. I didn't say much until she continues that I only would need to pay production and delivery costs of the magazine, 3,95€ per month. So I guess I would have got the "innovation and work" for the content free, I would have only need to pay for everything else. What an anticlimax, I hang up.

Second similar call I got some time ago. My cable TV operator called me and said that they had chosen me for private trial for 50 persons. I was selected to get to check out some renewed channel set and give feedback about that one. I would get it for two months for free, if I only would sign the contract for next 6 months for full price. That was just ridiculous. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to calculate the 25 percent discount offer from there, and nothing was really was free. The focus group talks most probably was just plain bullshit.

Afterwards those calls have been hilarious. How on earth they came up with those and most importantly does someone really buy after that massive bullshitting. It might be the worst selling strategy ever, over promise in the first two sentences and get caught after a minute.

I'll be waiting what ridiculous offer they come up next time.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jun 3, 2011


Inspiring TED speech about smiling and how it makes life better for so many. It would be so easy to start arguing if smile is a consequence or cause for better life, but I don't really care. Video is entertaining and definitely worth of watching. One thing is for sure, smiling is good for you.

Ron Gutman: The hidden power of smiling

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jun 1, 2011

Learning goes in mysterious ways

I have to tell you about my daughter. I'm amazed about how fast and well 3 year old can learn. I got some hints how it can happen from book The genius in all of us, but still it amazes me. Here's the full story.

Image from http://lekmer.se
So this is all about a game, bingo game to be exact. Rules go so, that there's own board for each player with 5 rows and 5 columns filled with 6 different looking Hello Kitty creatures in random order. On top of each column there's a letter B,I,N,G and O. Then there's 2 dices with one having the letters (B,I,N,G,O) and a joker and other dice have those 6 creatures.

My daughter, 3 years and 7 months currently, is unbelievably fast on checking from rolled dices, whether she has the item on her board or not. When the dices stop rolling, she immediately tells if she has the item on her board or not. Also she takes in to account if the item was filled in previous rounds. She's so fast, that almost every time, I can't believe she could have checked it already and I always check if she was just guessing. But she's never been wrong.

This got me thinking about learning. We've never ever tried to teach her to be fast on this. She has learned that only by playing. I have got to a conclusion that she must have some kind of map of the board in her head that she wouldn't need to look the board to know if it the item is there or not. There's about 10 different board from which we randomly take our own ones, so remembering by heart is somewhat difficult. I've tried tens of times in my head to beat her, to be faster, but I haven't been able. She must use some other technique than I am.

It's so amazing how human beings have such capability to learn to process things in surprising ways. I'm really sure I could have not taught this skill to her, since teaching anything to 3 year old is really hard. Still somehow she has been able to discover this way to process this much faster than anyone else I've seen her play with. I find it fascinating that even such a young person has this capacity in brains to learn to be such a good in something. It's not rocket science by any means, but still it requires special skill to do it. I believe that we all have these hidden capabilities in our brains that we might not ever really learn to take in to use.

Book I mentioned in the beginning, The genius in all of us, tells also about this. With right stimulus's and right circumstances almost everyone can learn special skills. You are not "born with" some skills, but you really can learn. I think that's essential to understand to be able to enjoy learning. It has been proven that young people learn faster, but it doesn't mean that older wouldn't learn at all. This at least gives me hope and happiness while I'm getting older and also seeing my daughter growing and learning new things.
Written by +Henri Hämäläinen