Lean Strategy with Michael Ballé

Lean Strategy with Michael Ballé

by Patrick Adams | Apr 12, 2022

 

Today on the podcast, I’m talking with Michael Ballé, a business writer, executive coach, organizational researcher and Lean expert with 30 years of experience. 

 

In this episode, Michael and I talk about how you can use Lean strategy in your organization and how it can give you an advantage and how Lean can be applied to product development. 

 

What You’ll Learn This Episode:

 

  • How Lean is a strategy 
  • How it gives companies a competitive advantage to use Lean as a strategy
  • Michael’s book The Lean Strategy 
  • How companies should be interpreting TPS and applying it
  • How Lean applies to product development
  • Lean hypergrowth
  • Successes that the operational excellence community was able to achieve

 

About the Guest:

Michael Ballé, PhD., is a business writer, executive coach and organizational researcher. He has studied lean transformations for the past 30 years and helped CEOs to grow their own lean cultures. He is the co-author of the bestselling Goldmine trilogy – The Gold Mine, The Lean Manager, Lead With Respect – The Lean Strategy, The Lean Sensei and Lead With Lean among other titles. His work has been translated in 10 languages and has received four Shingo Research and Publication awards. He is the co-founder of Institute  Lean France and Business Dynamics collection director at L’Harmattan.

 

Important Links: 

https://www.amazon.com/Lean-Strategy-Competitive-Innovation-Sustainable/dp/1259860426

http://theleanstrategy.com/

 

Full Episode Transcripts: 

 

Patrick Adams  

Welcome to the Lean solutions podcast where we discuss business solutions to help listeners develop and implement action plans for true Lean process improvement. I am your host, Patrick Adams. Hello, and welcome to the Lean solutions podcast. My guest today is Michael ballet. He is a PhD, a business writer and executive coach and organizational researcher. He studied lean transformations for the past 30 years and has helped CEOs grow their own Lean culture. He is the co author of The Best Selling Goldmine trilogy, the gold mine, the lean manager and lead with respect. He’s also the author of the lean strategy, the lean Sensei, and lead with Lean among many other titles. Michael, you’re also working on a new book called Lean hypergrowth. I’m excited to hear a little bit more about that as well. But welcome to the show.

Michael Balle

Thank you, Patrick. Thank you for inviting me.

Patrick Adams  

Absolutely. Our introduction came through a pretty interesting LinkedIn discussion around lean as a strategy. And your book got it was tagged in the discussion and shared out and so I obviously wanted to reach out to you and hear your thoughts about Lean Bootstrap is

Michael Balle  

a very interesting thread. It’s not often that LinkedIn threads are actually interesting. This one was really interesting.

Patrick Adams  

Well, I think sometimes I happen to push the envelope and rub people the wrong way, sometimes with some of my my stance on things, but I

Michael Balle  

talking to a Frenchman, you know, the difference is you notice that I do this? I don’t even know. Yeah, well, well, I

Patrick Adams  

I think it creates some good discussion. I think people learn more when they really are challenged in their thinking. So I think this is a great topic to dive into. And I actually would love to start out with a question about your book, The Lean strategy. Well, how do you define lean as a strategy? How is lean a strategy?

Michael Balle  

Well, a strategy is a framework, it’s what you know, there are strategies, you don’t need a strategy when you know what’s going to happen when everything is predictable. So you need a framework to tell you when things are complex and hard to predict. You need a framework to tell you if you are making points if you’re going ahead or or having setbacks or going back, and you need some way to set a path when there is no path. So in that sense, a lean tells you in our sense of lien strategy tells you want are you solving the right problem, which is a fairly basic questions, but a lot of people get a wrong there, you know, they they end up solving the wrong problem. And disaster comes along later. So they could have the perfect strategy and the perfect execution of this solving the wrong problem, that’s not going to help. The second thing is and are you solving the right problem? And what are the changes you need to do in order to solve the right problem. The second part of the lean strategies develop a culture of problem solving. Again, these changes will be very hard to execute if everybody is trained on a daily basis to first recognize problems and solve them. And the third part of Lean strategy is, as you develop a culture of problem solving, you eliminate waste, simply because you don’t have less, you have less defects, you make less mistakes, and so forth. So this generates cash. So the third part is how you re-invest this cash and actually innovation, a new, new offering for customers, and new technologies. So these three elements are what we at the time today is a lean strategy. And it’s a strategy because it helps you to set a path and a direction when you’re in the fog of war. Now, it’s a strategy. It’s not the strategy, there are many strategies. When people think of strategy, often they argue that it’s about finding new niches or having a cost advantage. These are also strategies. But there are strategies that assume that you have the power to do that. If you want to conquer a new segment, it assumes that you have the power to do so. If you want to be a cost leader, it assumes that you have the power to reduce costs. What I find that a lean strategy is far more flexible to actual real conditions, and a lot more helpful when things are changing. Because you often are in the fog of war, you don’t know what’s going to happen, but you still need a strategy.

Patrick Adams  

Absolutely. And do you think when companies are defining those problems in the beginning, or defining the problem? Do you feel like as lean is brought to the forefront, does it give organizations a competitive advantage to use Lean as a strategy?

Michael Balle  

What mostly happens is that the problems have been defined historically and very few people challenge them. And so yes, of course that when I’ve seen it many times when what the one thing that really helps us is big company disease. So usually there was a phase where your growth, where the complexity cost increased faster than your revenue and your turnover and then your marketing costs increased faster than your ability to deliver. So at this moment, which individually always happens. Then my friend who has us who wrote the Lean scale up learning a book called it’s learning to scale was very kind. He called it the ballets iron law of growth, there’s some point where your complexity costs are going to be growing faster than your revenue. So when you’re at the point, lean is completely a lifesaver. And I think, currently is the only strategy that actually unless you bank on being lucky, and as I always say, better be lucky than good. So yes, if you have the new breakthrough technology that falls on your lap, absolutely forget about Lean and go for it. But unless you have this very clear technology path, lean is what’s going to lean is a lifesaver.

Patrick Adams  

Sure, sure. How would you feel, you know, again, as you think about lean as a strategy? How does Hoshin, you know, fit into that? What is your feel on just cascading goals and long term vision and how that fits in with Lean being a strategy, you know, within an organization?

Michael Balle  

Well, the things that I’ve seen in people who have talked to me about what happens in Toyota and certainly seen in suppliers are very different from what you said about cascading goals. There is this element, what they call catchable. So really, the whole thing is a whole huge exercise of are we agreeing on the problem? Yes. And are we agreeing on how you go grab this problem? And do we agree on realistic targets and goals and paths again, so what people tend to in spreading notions, you know, with the x matrix, you know, like the X Men during the x matrix, is that we separate the strategy and we execute that in the boardroom. Very clever, guys, usually guys sadly, come up with this brilliant strategy, and the whole ocean exercises about compliance to the execution. So again, my take on tools is that they’re essential. They’re super important, but everything is in the interpretation. And, and this is where it goes one way or the other. So everything can be interpreted in terms of separating strategy from execution, or everything could be interpreted in terms of Lean cooperation, collaboration, and emotion, the key word is a catchable face.

Patrick Adams  

Very good. I agree. 100%. And that in just going back to your book, The Lean strategy, what would you say is the new idea in the book that you present?

Michael Balle  

I think that the really new ideas we have is that it’s not lean, it’s not an organizational revolution, it’s a cognitive revolution is the idea that we need to think differently. And in our terms, we call that we need to go from the four DS to the four F, let me backtrack, I was in. I was in a plant in China. And my contact there, who is the lean guy for Toyota, absolutely wanted me to meet his sensei. It turned out his sensei had just written a book about it was Me. Harada’s book about measurement lessons that would take you from day to night because he’d worked directly with a shaman. And he said, Can you help me promote the book and say, Sure, we can promote it clean. And the Sensei said the hardest No, absolutely knowing, knowing TPS, no lean. So it was like for me, lean is the it’s it’s translating TPS outside of food. So I said, What do you mean? And so it was adamant that a TPS was a little more different. And I thought Senlin were the same in different contexts. So and then he left and less Joe Lee was my my Chinese Sensei, who was his student and, and for once weren’t stupid, instead of saying everybody walking back to their corner, like in the rain, you know, it’s like, okay, go back to your opponent. Come fight again. Okay, let’s try to figure this out. And so I still have the picture somewhere. We went to whiteboard markers. Chow was there, the president and founder of the Lean Enterprise, China, and Microsoft, a wonderful guy’s great listener. He got us to talk to each other. And so we’re talking about profit across cultural barriers. There are language barriers. But then he hit me that the one thing they really didn’t like about Lean is that it comes from the top, you draw the value stream map and you go to the, and then you think so it starts at the head. It wasn’t starting from the gamba. And that the thing we were misrepresenting was the emphasis on problem solving. And that’s something they call problem awareness, which is, I found out in theory, it’s called problem finding. That was such a wow moment that was, you know, us like, wow. And we started pulling that thread. And I was working at the time with Dan Jones, who knows more than Africa, you know, he’s forgotten more than I know about lying, you know, or if you me, who was the finance director, Wiremold. So he, he’s really one of the guys who did it, you know, outside cleared out. And Jack says, who was doing with who’s the CEO, friend of mine, he’s retiring, but he was doing his own Lean transformation. And we started discussing this. And we realized that in the way we reason, what people tell us to do is first use it in the boardroom, or in your head, and you define the situation, this is what it’s like, then you have to decide on an option, you know, people that you have options go left go to, you know, do we do we attack the will treat, do we do this, okay, decide, then you have to drive the decision. And a lot of the implementation that we’re discussing, consulting, a lot of implementation consultants brought in other times, what, what decision has been made, and you have to drive it. And it’s usually disastrous. So yeah, for that, you have to deal with the consequences. And this is what we see. And this is what your book is about. And you have all the fancy footwork and all the crazy things people do, because the original decision was just nuts. We saw it with Boeing recently, we said all these companies, and then they, all these awareness comes through that they have to deal with the consequences of something that they’ve driven very hard. So we saw that if, if I tell you this is how you make decisions, you probably say, Yeah, that’s correct. So what do we say, Okay, what’s, what’s the alternative? What were the sensei so upset about? And the alternative is the four F, you start by finding the problem. So you look at every problem, because you’re not sure what the problem is. And in fact, you do Kaizen and not because it will solve anything, but because you will understand the problem.

Michael Balle  

But then the hard part, you face, the elephant in the room, you face the part of the problem, you don’t have a solution for you face, the thing that is obvious, except nobody wants to look at it, because people don’t know what to do with it. So you face your problem, then you frame it, which means, you explain it in a way that everybody can understand and contribute to it. So this is a very difficult exercise. But for instance, you frame it if you want to do the Lexus as the driver, Mercedes and the comfort of a Cadillac, you know, you frame it in where everybody says Oh, I see what you’re trying to do. So everybody can contribute. And then the last F is the form is the Yokota and in fact, you form the solution, you don’t impose it, you ask everybody to contribute and to share what they’ve done and share their experiments. And there’s some kind of rough consensus that comes up. And this is where your changes. So the core idea which we’re obviously struggling to get across is that we don’t change the organization. And Dan has changed his mind about us to forget. But value streams are organizing stuff. It never works. We take the same organization, we change how people interpret, we change the code of the organization, because we ask people, and this is what I’ve seen happen, this is what happened and the next book, that’s what they’re describing. They asked their executives to please stop giving me these solutions. Go and look for a solution that you have discovered. But the problem was that we talked to people dry stuff, what is the thing that we need to face? And this is a critical moment. So it was fun. Absolutely. How do we frame it? So everybody understands? And how do we shape this thing? So that it’s a collective solution, and not just something imposed?

Patrick Adams  

Sure. Now, in the US, especially, I see this a lot. And I’m wondering what your recommendation would be for organizations for people that are listening, that maybe are hearing this this four F mentality and wondering, okay, how do I how do I, how do I go in that direction? within my organization? What would you recommend first? How do we make it happen if they are at an organization where it’s, you know, the top executives are the ones that are developing the strategy, and then they’re trying to push this down to the rest of the team? What would be your recommendation on how to kind of flip the script on that and do things differently?

Michael Balle  

Well start with yourself and you can start practicing yourself. It turns out this is where real sensors are really useful, because that’s what they do to teach the app and fine. They keep putting you back, what is the real problem? This is what the problem is, this is what Mr. Harada had against VSM. And all the stuff it wasn’t, it wasn’t good enough. So the first thing is, you can always practice these four as for yourself. And you’ll find that it’s probably we have such, actually, you find that there is no way you can avoid the four D, we’re programmed to do this. So your first reaction is gonna be for D, you can laugh at yourself and say, Okay, I put that on the side. And then I’ll practice for it and see where it takes me. The next step is more complicated, because then you have to be more attractive, persuasive. And, you know, to convince the rest of the organization, but it will change your society, change your vision, and then try to change everybody else’s. But if practice makes perfect, it’s really a question. But really, the first step is really realizing that we make decisions all the time, and they always come back to bite us. So once you realize that, it’s like, one time to time, bad. Fourth time, it’s okay, maybe I’ll practice this for F stuff to see where it gets. Sure. And it’s always a discard. It’s always fun, it’s always different. It’s never what you thought. And currently, I’m working with a company that is doing a lot of fast acquisition. And the big fight I’ve had with the CEOs is like, do not impose your processes on the acquired guys just for the moment do nothing. And it’s such an easy reflex. And so the CEO gets it completely. And he says to these guys, listen, we’re gonna share and show and convince the acquired companies to adopt our ideas or not. And we’re going to adopt some of the ideas, but we can ever instruct, but his guys one of the lowdown, every time you look, they’re trying to instruct the like. But we know how to fail in acquisitions, you destroy the company you acquire, they always do you know, that’s why they fail so often. So we know, it’s silly to do this. And still, the reflex is so strong. So this, this, this growth is what makes this grow so successful, because a CEO has understood this. And is working very hard to get people to actually form you know, share ideas, and inspire each other, as opposed to imposing the Aquarius culture on people who don’t want it.

Patrick Adams  

Right, right. So what would you say out of those four apps, in your experience? Which one is the most difficult? And maybe do you have an example of a company that maybe you’ve worked with, that you’ve helped work through, you know, that maybe that tough, whatever that tough, F is

Michael Balle  

the face? Okay, face is hard, I can think of a construction company. And they had a very, very strong head of sales. And because he was a very strong head of sales, who was always selling, it was a very tough market, it was horrible, we were bleeding money, the developer, the real estate developers were putting unreasonable pressure on price. So this guy would sell bigger and riskier projects, because he would look good for him. And every success was an added risk of the company. And when we looked at it, you know, in hindsight, we saw that, if you put it away, if you had a 5050 chance, a very large project, sometimes a project that would be half the top third turnover of the company. But with such a huge uncertainty in the margin, you’re actually killing the boring company. So that will be typically a face, you know, that you have something that everybody’s convinced you is the way to do things. And you can see, it’s not working. Another typical face when you work with a hospital is having to face the internal infections and accidents to actually count it, it’s a big fight, they just don’t want to count them, they do not want to count them. They don’t want to face the fact that the first thing you have to do with the hospital is to lower the infection, the hospital acquired infections and accidents. And so the birthing goes better, you know, things like that. So the face is a big one.

Patrick Adams  

Yeah, it sounds like I can see where that would be difficult for many organizations. And, you know, again, you know, I’m dealing with organizations, mostly here in the US, but it’s nice, it’s refreshing. It’s refreshing to hear that it’s very similar in other places that you know that you’re working as well.

Michael Balle  

The thing in France is we see it people love losing slowly. The good thing about a spectacular decision, we’re going to invest in something that will postpone the disaster for two years because everybody’s so busy doing that. You have a promise here so you can do your offering to the boss, Look, boss. Here’s my offer: you know, look If we do this, magically, everything will work. Right? And so it keeps you busy for two years is what big consulting contracts are. Sure. And then and then then it’s a bloodbath. But hopefully you’re not there anymore, you pass the bucket, somebody else and so on. So as you keep doing this, it keeps everybody working. And what happens is you, which we’ve seen in all the Western countries, fail slowly, retreat and retrench and retreat every chance. And every time the guys say no, this is the way to win. And you know, it’s not going to win, how can this fly, man come look at it. But you know, but it postpones the heart, it postpones the face for a couple years. So people tend to go for that.

Patrick Adams  

Sure. Absolutely. I loved everything that you said about the Toyota Production System. You know, and just the interpretation there. I’m curious to hear, you know, maybe if you spoke to companies that, you know, do look at TPS as the way to implement lean in their organizations, what would you say to them? How should they be interpreting TPS and applying it, you know, and applying it maybe is not the right, the right word. But what would your feelings be about interpretations and application within companies?

Michael Balle  

Well, the first thing is we have to understand TPS as I see it as a learning system. And we have to understand what this is. Because there’s different ways to teach people. And the most spontaneously federally we do with our kids, whether it’s just learning is just applied. So we have this very Taylorist idea of learning that the engineer knows and the way you apply learning is compliance. And we have this notion that through compliance people, we eventually somehow get it. Okay, we now know that it’s not the way it works. It’s simply the wrong we know that the way adults learn is through troublesome problems. You give them a troublesome problem at some point, they try it. And as a what is called the threshold concept. That’s something they get through repeating the problem. So one way of seeing it TPS is definitely it’s a set of problems that it gives you, you know, reduce your leads, and that’s a problem. Have a better detection of defects. That’s a problem. There’s no one solution. So the TPS is there’s a set of problems there. And concretely on the shop floor, this translates in two ways. First, it translates into learning opportunities. So what you build as a transformation as you create with boards with visual management, you visualize these very specific learning opportunities. There’s something to learn here. And of course, you will see some people step up to the opportunity and many people ignore it depending on where you are in some opportunities. Somebody’s getting arcing, I get this, I grab this, please, this one, and we’re back to face. And what I’m working on at the moment is one step further is how does the TPS create these learning opportunities? Well, it turns out that TPS, the recommendations of TPS are about your relation and protocols. Go to the Gambia and discuss problems. It’s a very clear relational protocol, will you change the relational protocol, so when you change these relational protocols, they highlight these learning opportunities. And when people step up, it radically changes the way people work. So okay, this is a bit technical, but here is that you look at TPS as a learning system. And it teaches you things, which is why it works in the fog of war, because there’s some things you can always learn. And it teaches you things through giving you very clear, troublesome problems. How do you satisfy customers better? Even more precisely, how do you give them better quality, better lead time, better price? So a very clear problem. It’s a troublesome problem, because there’s no easy way to do this. How do you reduce lead times? Just in time? How do you increase detection of defects and reaction to defects? How do you engage people more into kaizen? How do you build stability and mutual trust? Do you see that each of these problems don’t have one solution? And which is great because it sets your context, your culture, everything, but you ask yourself this problem, and you face it. And then suddenly, you discover new things, and it pays.

Patrick Adams  

Absolutely, and I love that you’re you’re you’re stating all of those problems as questions, because for every organization, the answers are going to be different and completely no for for us to think that we can just take the the answers that worked for, you know, Chrysler or that worked for Microsoft or Oh, Toyota, Toyota, it’s, it’s, you know, you’re in a different industry. It’s a different time and culture is different. So you have to you have to ask yourself those questions and be honest with the answers for you in your organization,

Michael Balle  

which is, which is great, you know, it’s like this is again, how hard you make appearances because you convince people that is this the idea of best practice, which is carry the best practice, there’s no risk, best practice for whom, for what you have to start with, where people are at. And really, and and so from then, actually, the third, I guess, I met, never understood where we wanted to copy at the time, at the time, when I was starting up, we just wanted to copy and listen, our solutions are the result of a sequence of problems we solve, you don’t have the same problems that why would you want to copy our solution? Having said that, we were so far back that their solutions were inspiring. Oh, absolutely. Didn’t realize you could do that. Yes. But then when you started to copy this, it was a disaster because of course, it would not work. We had to figure out what the problem was first. 

Patrick Adams  

That’s right. Absolutely. So powerful. I love that love the discussion, I want to change gears just a little bit and talk about lean in product development, because I know this is another area that that you’ve spent a lot of time in, and I just curious what your thoughts are, you know, about Lean working in the area of product development, you know, we as organizations are looking to solve the problem of, you know, decreasing their lead time of idea to market or whatever it might be, what do you think? How does lean apply in that space?

Michael Balle  

Oh, the game is product development. At the end of the company, its products or services. So the whole game, the real game, where it really matters is product development, product and process development? Sure. So we started with lean in the factory, because it’s easier, and who could see it. But I mean, the amount of cost that you control in the factory is ridiculous to the impact of the decision that you make in development, both in product decisions, because customers will either like or dislike the product, and this worry happens. And then in the process, because once you’ve chosen the machines, what do you do with it, you know, so the real challenge for every company is definitely product development. Now, what is interesting in lean, and again, again, we have to break away from the Western mentality of saying somebody designs a product, you send it over the wall, and then it gets manufactured. So now let’s look at production as the test method for the development. If the development is done right, customers love that your product is easy to build. So you have a cost advantage. But if it starts burning into production, if you have all these issues, then it feeds back with customer problems with customers. And it cost you a fortune. So production is super important. Because it’s a test method for your development. This is where you find all the problems appear. So this is where you have this great Toyota idea of value analysis and value engineering. So production is essential. Because the first thing is you clean up or production problems that are from production. Because if you take an engineer to see a line, and this is something stupid, they’ll say, Hey, come on, guys, my design is perfect look at your execution. So first, you have to polish up, you have to solve the execution problem. And then they come and see something that is difficult, they can’t tell you it’s an execution problem. It has to be with their design. So this is value analysis. You work with engineers to solve engineering problems in products or services actually, in production while they’re being shipped to customers. Now, the next step is when you do this, you have a second learning loop, which is saying, Okay, what does this mean for the next product? What have you learned for the next product? And, and this is how, and then you have a third lean idea which blows your mind is that you don’t develop a new product when you need it because your product is failing. You set a tack time, you attack them, you say that let’s say every two years, I need to come up with a new product, it could be just a facelift, or it’s a radical art, whatever. But if you have this notion of tack time in mind. And if you’re constantly practicing the value analysis, when you see the next prototype come in, you can decide what engineering improvements you want or don’t want in the products that they worked on. So the Lean thinking where it really impacts companies is in product development. This is where it revolutionizes the profitability and the growth of the company. The downside of that it’s that it’s hard enough to get people to do something on the shop floor. Getting executives to understand that where the Lean is really the big payoff is is in product development is not easy,

Patrick Adams  

right? That’s a tough, tough sell for sure. Absolutely. But to your point though, the companies that do move in that direction, definitely see the benefits, you know, extraordinary benefits.

Michael Balle  

Oh, the case studies are spectacular. So, I mean, the case study does not, but I don’t think anybody. I don’t think anybody disputes that. I think that for many executives, probably development is that kind of witch doctor mysterious thing that they don’t want to, you know, it’s a complete career killer. So they really don’t want to go there. And, and this is why, you know, very, very big companies keep coming up with these failing products. It’s and then they and then they blame production. But it really I mean, the game is really in how you think about it. What is the emotion that you build in the product so that customers love it? It’s the same thing with my books, I have to say a sale. But yeah, I don’t want to. I don’t want to book people like, I want books people love. And my failure as a writer is that I am very pleased because I do get people who love him, but not many. Well,

Patrick Adams  

In speaking of books, can you tell the listeners a little bit about the book that you’re working on lean hypergrowth? Just give us a kind of an overview of what’s going on? What’s to come with that?

Michael Balle  

Oh, I’ve been very fortunate I’ve, several years ago, I was contacted. Well, actually, he wrote the preface, Nicola wrote the preface to the Lean strategy in French because he read the book and say, you know, contact me, I told him to read it. I didn’t know anything about selling cars with the Internet. So these are two guys Nicola, you who started 20 years ago, selling cars of the internet, when there was no internet, they were doing by phone. And their idea was to transform the car purchasing experience, they say, Listen, car purchasing is one of the biggest purchases you make, apart from homes, you know. And it’s a horrible experience. So they looked at it and they said, We surely we can do with that. And their approach was was very sound and said, Okay, we’ll take the all the pain points away. And the first pain point is you don’t want to negotiate with a professional car salesman, you don’t want to negotiate with a professional negotiator. So when they wanted to, they created the website, they said, fix price, here’s a price on the website, this is no negotiation. And then they started doing these things to make it easier. And it works exactly well. So they have this rapid growth. When I met them, they were in the big company disease, the complexity costs were backwards saying that they had done so many things, and you can drive a company as intrapreneurs you know, just just get things done and pushing hard, you know me to a certain point. And at some point, the company starts fighting back. And everybody’s unhappy. And so that growth was slowing. And they were looking for another way, which is the other point that they started doing, they went to their for the other innovation they did, which is just fantastic. Not just sell cars, but they also had the first factory in Europe, to refurbish second hand cars. So the forecast would make it industrial. And then they they saw circular the benefit of circular economy before anybody else. And it’s not surprising that it’s the same people who saw the quote that they’re very aggressive. They saw the potential of the internet before others and then there’s the need for a circular economy before others and it has saved them in the current crisis. Because when new cars disappeared from the market, they had such an established base instead of the practice of refurbishing cars that they again, they turned the company around to just do that. But we looked at the factory. And it was a big garage. And it was because they were very proud of it, we had a very difficult conversation. And these guys are lovely. And they took the face immediately. They had heard of lean, they had traded certain times. But this idea of lean as a learning system just took to it. And so this is the story in the book. And the book is how it’s a really a blow by blow account of how we where we started, we started very humble things. We went to their sales point. And there was this kid, Juliette who started doing what I was asking, which is painting white places and you know, to see parking spaces to distinguish normal and abnormal cars, you know, why are the cars there? Where you shouldn’t be there, you know, very humble beginnings. And the book describes how this progressively worked from this and transformed the company. And it took the company all the way to the IPO that it did last spring. So the bookstores are because after the IPO is a different story.

Patrick Adams  

Sure, sure. So what and when do you have a time when that book is going to be coming out?

Michael Balle  

 It’s already should be Yeah. You know, it’s coming out. We’re working on it.

Patrick Adams  

Okay. It’s coming. Possible.

Michael Balle

No, definitely in the next couple months. Yeah.

Patrick Adams  

Okay, good. Well, Michael, this has been great love having you on. I’m excited about, you know, just being able to dive into some more of your books and I’d love to have you back on at another point maybe, maybe even around the topic of product development would love to even dive into that topic a little bit more. That’s it’s always

Michael Balle  

Have you talked to Nobel monetarists? You know, Nobel is a veteran of Lean product development. And he’s coming out with a new book coming out very soon. And I was honored, he asked me to write the foreword. And so I read the book in it before ahead of everybody else’s great books that novel as well. As you know, it’s a great book, so you should definitely look it over.

Patrick Adams  

Okay, I will. Absolutely.

Michael Balle

No, and I love your book.

Patrick Adams  

I appreciate that very much. And so yeah, let’s plan to have you back on at another point, we can, you know, dive in or maybe even dive into your new book, Lean Hyper Growth as long as it’s published, too. I’d love to hear more about that, too. So, thank you so much for what you’ve done for the Lean community and just love your book, The Lean strategy and appreciate, you know, again, just your take, which again, some of us have different views on things and it’s always fun to have good conversations and dive into these topics and, and just really discuss them in detail. So thank you again.

Michael Balle

Thank you, Patrick.

Patrick Adams  

Thanks so much for tuning in to this episode of the lean solutions podcast. If you haven’t done so already, please be sure to subscribe. This way you’ll get updates as new episodes become available. If you feel so inclined. Please give us a review. Thank you so much.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Meet Patrick

Patrick is an internationally recognized leadership coach, consultant, and professional speaker, best known for his unique human approach to sound team-building practices; creating consensus and enabling empowerment. He founded his consulting practice in 2018 to work with leaders at all levels and organizations of all sizes to achieve higher levels of performance. He motivates, inspires, and drives the right results at all points in business processes.

Patrick has been delivering bottom-line results through specialized process improvement solutions for over 20 years. He’s worked with all types of businesses from private, non-profit, government, and manufacturing ranging from small business to billion-dollar corporations.

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