Lead With Lean : Interview With Michael Ballé

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I have been lucky enough to know Michael for a few years now. I have been that lucky that he has been coaching me on few occasions. This is a huge honor to have such a Lean known figure as a coach.

In all fairness, it can also be quite painful : brutal reality does hurt. Learning is somehow confronting the world, a mess which happens to be much different from the narratives and interpretations that run through our minds. This is why we all need a coach in our thinking process : to make sure we don’t get carried away by our own misconceptions. His last book Lead With Lean is a great help in making our minds clearer about what leadership is in the 21st century.

Michael has made himself available to answer our questions and we are really happy to share this interview here.

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Lead With Lean by Michael Ballé

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Michael is a relentless researcher on the topic of Lean. Like other main influencers of this blog, such as Scott Berkun, or Jason Fried & David Heinemier Hansson, his work is priceless in that Michael keeps on going from abstract thinking (reading, studying) to concrete thinking (on the shop floor, with executives, to coach them on their strategy and their everyday problems) and back to abstract thinking (writing) : his thoughts and ideas are always validated or inspired by the reality of every day work.

Lead With Lean is a book which brings together many articles published during the last 5 years, mostly on Planet Lean. Reading these articles separately are enlightening ; reading them together, thanks to the great work by talkative and super smart Roberto Priolo (Planet Lean Chief Editor) who edited the book, is telling in that it shows the amazing strength of Michael thinking on the topic.

All these articles are like practices, a beau geste of describing in many different contexts and from many different perspectives what Lean and Lean Leadership are and why learning from them is so important today. These can also be seen as handles, practical ways of grasping some tough concepts : a very instructive book indeed.

Michael Interview on this book to be published soon … watch this space.

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Leadership in action : daily practices to develop collaboration

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(Version Française)

These are questions I love to ask during conferences or masterclasses : how can you develop your leadership ? What are the best universities to become a great leader ? I usually get an embarrassed silence as an answer. I can see people struggling while trying to elaborate some relevant response and realizing they don’t really know.

Likewise problem solving or collaboration, leadership is a topic discussed by just about everyone interested in management. Yet, very few come with specific routines and practices to develop this ability.

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Disruptive Innovation Vs Continuous Improvement

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This blog post comes as some reaction to a quote of Oren Harari by Alexander Kluge (the business consultant, not to be confused with the philosopher / director), a quote reported by my friend Hans-Juergen Sturm. OK it’s not first hand yet it is rather interesting.

I haven’t seen the full presentation reported by this picture by Alexander, yet I can recognise the same petite musique, the same belief as the one in Aaron Dignan talk at USI 2015 where consultants draw an opposition between operational efficiency (the home of continuous improvement) on one hand and adaptability on the other. As if they were not compatible and one has to choose between one or the other.

Thare are many flaws in that opposition and here is why …

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The Big Short : anticipating the unthinkable from the gemba

Just saw the movie The Big Short. Exciting cast, great actors, great plot, lively editing and a very clever and unconventional approach to explain complicated financial concepts (for some reason when Margot Robbie explains one from her bath while sipping champagne, we tend to offer a better quality of listening).

But the thing that has fascinated me in the movie was how character Mark Baum (based on Steve Eisman) walked the whole process backwards to figure out what is going on. From the customer – a Miami stripper who gets morgages for 5 houses and a condo from not very scrupulous mortgage brokers – up to the Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO) Manager, including credit rating agencies and the SEC.

A great way to fight misconceptions and collective illusions. A way we call Gemba in Lean : going where the value is created and walking the process from the customer backwards. In most organizations, the hypothesis whereby the process doesn’t not work as intended remains unthinkable. Lean’s assumption (verified so many times) is that unless you walk the process backwards, you just dont have any idea of what is going on.

In a time where everybody laments a post-factual world, a great example of how to go and see for yourself the actual facts to fight a collective illusion and a culture shaped by confirmation bias on steroids.

Lean and Green : Interview With Kelly Singer

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One of the emerging topics around Lean in the last few years has been Green. A pillar of the 21st century vision for the Lean company, Toyota, environmental concern has been a central topic of innovation for the japanese car maker. As another evidence of the ability of lean to engage people in making opportunities out of challenges, no matter how global and complex they are, Toyota has become a pioneer with hybrid technology ever since the late 90s with the Prius and now with fuel cell technology. Last but not least, lean and green also represents a credible and exciting practical alternative to the degrowth ideology.

Kelly Singer has been a very careful observer and actor of this nascent trend. For her it just makes sense : global environmental issues are probably the most challenging topics of our times and Lean focus in reducing waste certainly can contribute some effort to address this challenge.

Despite a heavy schedule, Kelly has allowed #hypertextual some of her time to answer our questions with great insights, challenging perspectives and practical advice for everyone to take action now, both in the professional context and our everyday life …

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Cracking the Talent Code with Daniel Coyle and John Wooden

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Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement, one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens and when it happens, it lasts.

The importance of repetition until automacity cannot be overstated. Repetition is the key to learning.

(John Wooden)”

In The Talent Code – greatness is not born it’s grown, Daniel Coyle aims at cracking The Talent Code i.e how people develop exceptional talent in different disciplines – from musical instrument to business to (in the case above) sport.

The quotes above, taken from this book, are from John Wooden, often referred as the Greatest Coach ever. Continue reading “Cracking the Talent Code with Daniel Coyle and John Wooden”