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Michael Ballé

Michael Ballé

Michael Ballé, PhD, is a lean management practitioner, business writer, and author. His most recent book, co-authored with father Freddy Ballé, is Lead With Respect: A Novel of Lean Practice, published by the Lean Enterprise Institute.

They're co-authors of two earlier Shingo Research Award-winning business novels about lean management. The Gold Mine tells how lean concepts turn around a failing plant. The Lean Manage describes the conversion to a complete lean business system. Michael also writes the Gemba Coach column at http://www.lean.org/balle

For the past 20+ years, he has studied first-hand lean transformations, helping companies and people in fields such as manufacturing, engineering, construction, services, and healthcare make the transition to different ways of working and managing.

As a managing partner of ESG Consultants, Ballé coaches executives on how to obtain exceptional performance through lean tools, principles, and different management attitudes. His main coaching technique is the "real place visit," where he helps senior executives learn how to really see their own shop floors, teach people the spirit of kaizen, and reach the right conclusions for the whole business.

An engaging and colorful public speaker, Ballé also is an experienced workshop facilitator, an associate researcher at Télécom ParisTech's Projet Lean Enterprise, and co-founder of the French Lean Institute. Ballé holds a doctorate from the Sorbonne in Social Sciences and Knowledge Sciences. He is co-founder of the Project Lean Entreprise and the Instituet Lean France.

Articles by Michael Ballé
Products, People, Profits
Lean Management is about “seeking the customer’s smile,” writes author and lean practitioner Michael Ballé in Industrial Engineering's International Issue, October 2014. To do that, managers have to seek employees' smiles. More »
"How to Lead with Respect" -- Follow-Up Q&A to the Webinar
At the end of the lean management webinar “How to Lead with Respect,” we had a couple of hundred questions left over that presenter and author Michael Ballé didn’t have time to answer. After reviewing the questions, several main themes emerged. We’ve selected your questions that best represent those themes and present them here with answers from Michael. Q: Can you give examples of two improvements that can only happen within relationships to help me better understand this concept? A: Teaching lean thinking to the COO of a new company. In shipping, we start with a Truck Preparation Area -- More »
Why Lean Gets Business Backwards (and why that’s a good thing)
Most executives think their role is to first define a strategy, then the organizational structure needed to implement the strategy, and then the systems needed to sustain the strategy. “And they’ve learned they also need some kind of involvement program,” said Michael Ballé, coauthor of The Lean Manager and The Gold Mine, popular business novels about lean transformations. Lean takes the opposite approach, according to Ballé, who also writes the Gemba Coach column. “The basic assertion of lean is that if every year you are serious about improving your safety, your quality, your flexibility, and your productivity by involving everybody More »
Books by Michael Ballé
The Gold Mine Trilogy Study Guide The Gold Mine Trilogy Study Guide
A way for teams to improve their lean practice together through reflection on the Ballé novel trilogy: The Gold Mine, The Lean Manager, Lead With Respect More »
Lead With Respect Lead With Respect
In their third business novel Lead With Respect, authors Michael and Freddy Ballé reveal the true power of lean: developing people through a rigorous application of proven tools and methods. And, in the process, creating the only sustainable source of competitive advantage—a culture of continuous improvement. More »
The Lean Manager The Lean Manager
For many companies, the most important problem is not doing lean; it is becoming lean. How can they advance beyond realizing isolated gains from deploying lean tools, to fundamentally changing how they operate, think, and learn? In other words, how can companies learn to go beyond lean turnaround to achieve lean transformation? The Lean Manager, by lean experts Michael and Freddy Ballé, addresses this critical problem. This sequel to their international bestselling business novel The Gold Mine, tells the compelling story of plant manager Andrew Ward as he goes through the challenging but rewarding journey to becoming a lean manager. Under the guidance More »
The Gold Mine The Gold Mine
A growing number of successful companies are turning to lean thinking to maintain a competitive edge in a global economy of falling prices, rising quality, and relentless competition. Yet while there are many excellent resources that teach both the tools and principles, no single book addresses what might be the most important lean discipline of all—the human challenge of creating and sustaining the commitment of the people doing the work. The Gold Mine deftly weaves together the technical and human pieces of implementing lean manufacturing in an engaging story that readers will find both compelling and instructive. Authors Freddy and More »