Lead With Lean : Interview With Michael Ballé


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


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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La réflexion – l’élément manquant dans la perception de valeur

lean-methode-scientifique-operae-partnersDurant mes près de 30 ans de carrière, mon objectif principal a toujours été de contribuer à davantage de valeur pour mon entreprise et mes clients tout en travaillant dans des conditions agréables et épanouissantes. Comme nous passons une grande partie de nos journées au travail et que c’est parfois difficile, frustrant, stressant, voire pénible, il me semble que cela vaut la peine de prendre le temps d’essayer de rendre ce temps plus agréable.

Dans les entreprises dans lesquelles j’ai exercé, j’ai observé une sorte de modèle mental de contribution croissante de valeur : à mesure que l’on progresse d’éléments en éléments, il y a cette perception que davantage de valeur est créée. Ce modèle mental de chaîne croissante de valeur peut être représentée ainsi :

Outils > Processus > Méthodes > Stratégie > Culture

Mon hypothèse : plus l’on cherche à avoir un effet de levier important sur l’organisation, plus l’on vise haut. Une hypothèse qui ne prend pas en compte le fait de « la loi de rendement dégressif de l’abstraction» telle que la définit Scott Berkun.

Depuis que j’étudie et pratique le Lean, environ 5 ans, je constate qu’il manque deux notions fondamentales (pratiques et réflexion) dans cette perception et que l’une d’elles n’est, selon moi, plus pertinente (culture).

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Leadership en action : développer la collaboration

(English Version)

Je me rappelle avoir posé cette question dans une Masterclass de management 2.0 à la commission européenne : comment pouvons-nous développer notre leadership ? Quelles sont les meilleures universités ou diplômes pour y parvenir ? Je n’ai obtenu qu’un silence embarrassé. Je constatais que les personnes de l’auditoire ne parvenaient pas à formuler une réponse pertinente et se résignaient à admettre qu’ils n’avaient pas de réponse.

Tout comme la résolution de problème ou la collaboration, le leadership est un sujet qui revient dans de nombreux articles chez de très nombreux spécialistes du management. Pourtant, peu fournissent des exemples de pratiques et routines permettant de développant ces capacités essentielles dans l’entreprise du 21ème siècle.

L’objectif de ce billet est de craquer le code d’un leadership spécifique : celui qui permet d’obtenir l’engagement d’une équipe transverse sur laquelle on n’a pas de levier hiérarchique.

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Leadership in action : daily practices to develop collaboration


(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


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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Lean and Green : Interview With Kelly Singer


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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