Today we are reviewing the new Lean textbook, come novel “Lead with Respect: a Novel of Lean Practice” by Michael Balle and Freddy Balle.
Coming two years after The Lean Manager we catch up with Andy Ward again. He is now Vice President of the European operations and had turned his attention to a new plant, Nexplas, and one their IT suppliers, Southcape Software. Southcape’s CEO is Jane Delany and she is dragged into Andy’s Lean world kicking and screaming but desperate to save the relationship between their two companies. The result is told in story form throughout the book. Andy takes on a mentoring role to Jane and coaches her in the lean principles and methodologies that will improve the service Southcape is offering and potentially save Southcape from despair in the long term.
In the opening scenes, Andy helps Jane to realise there is a problem with their supplier relationship; what Southcape are offering is not what Nexplas wants – a new IT system. Andy begins to lead Jane in the Lean world by first understanding the customer requirements. The story really highlights the people element of the Lean principles, engaging and developing people and helping them succeed through teamwork and a level of autonomy. This is repeated throughout the book and includes the ongoing theme of problem solving and making everyday problems visible. Having regular sessions where a common language is used to investigate issues and ideas allows our teams to “see together so we know together so we can act together”
As Jane explores how she can implement what she has learnt to her organisation, Andy helps her ask the right questions.
While there is a lot of talk about many well-known lean tools, there are few pictures, allowing the reader to interpret the explanation of each tool in a way that relates to one’s own workplace and industry. This really helps when taking the originally automative orientated material into new industries across a broader manufacturing base and even into the IT and software industry, as highlighted here. But, as we know, it’s not all about the tools. The book goes to lengths to remind us that implementing these tools and their underlying principles is not easy as we bring together customer demands, production issues, people issues, making a profit and still find time to “Go and see”.
While this book is a little heavy with the lean monologues from Andy, it certainly adds a personal touch with characters we can sympathise with and relate to. It lets us cheer along the champions and shows how the basic principles of Lean can be moulded to suit all problems in all industries. so if you are looking for a Lena textbook that is easy to read, “Lean with Respect” will suit you down to the ground.
Publisher: Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc.
Available as a hardcopy from the Lean Enterprise Institute
or a an ebook via Amazon