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LeanUX Can't Happen in a Vacuum

LeanUX Can't Happen in a Vacuum: Aligning reality, strategy and action with Mission Command

Speaker: Simon Marcus


LeanUX, Lean Startup, Agile - these are all local optimizations. They’re little more than defenses against the dysfunctions of larger organizations and to some degree or another meant to mitigate risk.

Knowledge-work organizations are dysfunctional because they follow precepts outlined by a guy who thought that people inherently hated work. His prescriptions included having managers hover over workers delivering precise instructions for every move (“Now lift your right arm”). That might sound absurd to you, but you’d be surprised how much of what we take for granted about how mature companies work flow from the same kind of thinking. The complexity of our problems call for diverse and distributed decision making, but our organizations are designed to kill ideas, not surface and exploit them.

Luckily, another group of dudes who died a long time ago faced a similar set of problems after Napoleon trounced the Prussian army in 1806. The prussians came up with a concept, auftragstaktik, intended to create an organization where people facing problems on the ground could decide for themselves how to overcome those problems. American’s translate that term to “Mission-Command,” TLC has been using it to transform a 40 year old company.

Learning about LeanUX principles without understanding the context of lean is at best a local optimization. To really improve the user experience across the organization, we all need to understand how lean principles can be deployed across the enterprise. Come discuss how Mission Command can help company's restructure themselves to create design-centric, customer-driven, sustainable organizations.


About Simon Marcus

Simon Marcus is the Chief Operating Officer of The Library Corporation, using his depth of operations experience developed from a career based on successful project management and process improvement for prominent enterprises, he also co-found TLC Labs. Before joining TLC, Mr. Marcus served as Chief Operating Officer of the Authors Guild, the oldest and largest American organization for published authors, where he played a key role in the Guild’s ongoing sparing with Amazon and Google.

Previous to working at The Guild, Mr. Marcus managed the New York office of AM+A, a leading user experience design firm, and served as a consultant at the Corporate Executive Board. Mr. Marcus is a thought leader in the Lean and Lean Startup communities, frequently speaking and mentoring companies in organizational learning and process improvement. Mr. Marcus holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Bard College (NY).

Simon is an active participant in the Lean Software, Lean Startup and Kanban communities. Simon tweets at @lycaonmarcus.


About Catalyst Group

Catalyst Group is a team of highly experienced researchers and designers that are simply fascinated by how people interact with websites and software (and, really, anything else!). For over ten years, we have worked with major Global Brands (as well as startups, non-profits, and many others) to help them deliver engaging, effective user experiences to their audiences and customers.


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  • Will E.

    Here are some of the books that were mentioned in last nights talk: The Art of Action - Stephen Bungay
    Personal Kanban - Jim Benson
    Fifth Discipline - Peter Senge
    Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business - David Anderson
    On War, Book 7 - Carl Von Clausewitz
    Human Side of Enterprise - Douglas MacGregor
    Communicating Intent and departing Presence - Lawrence Shattuck

    2 · April 4, 2013

  • Will E.

    Just a heads up y'all that attended last night. We will *not* be posting Simon's talk because, as we discussed, it's a moving target as he gets feedback and continues to iterate towards the LeanUX conference next week!

    April 4, 2013

  • Jonathan H.

    Great talk! Thanks for organizing it!

    April 3, 2013

  • Will E.

    Thanks to everyone that came out tonight! We really appreciate you stopping by for the talk and discussion.

    April 3, 2013

  • Peter M.

    I'm teaching class that night. Have fun!

    April 2, 2013

  • Will E.

    Hey everyone! Notice of change of venue. We needed to move the meetup to AlleyNYC which is located at 500 Fashion Avenue (7th Ave), 17th Floor. Please take note of the change of venue. It's only 6 blocks north of Catalyst Group. Cheers!

    April 2, 2013

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