INTERVIEW - Are you a manager who needs to brush up on lean but has little time to do it? A new book by Cécile Roche comes to the rescue: A Little Lean Guide for the Use of Managers.
Interviewee: Cécile Roche, Lean Director, Thales Group
Planet Lean: A Little Lean Guide for the Use of Managers recently came out in English. What is your book about?
Cecile Roche:A while ago, my top manager at Thales asked me to explain to him what lean is. Rather than preparing a slide deck, I decided to write and produced a 20-page document. I chose to give one page to each subject.
I later discussed this with people at the Institut Lean France, and they asked me to turn that document in a book. I decided to give it a try – I had wanted to write a book for a long time. Explaining things in detail and carrying out the research necessary to put together A Little Lean Guide for the Use of Managers was such a great pleasure.
It really helped in my job too. A big part of my role as Lean Director at Thales is about education and communication, as well as going to the floor to help people to make things happen. So what I tried to do in the book is bringing these two things together for managers, knowing all too well how hard they work and how little time they have available to read. I wanted to be concise and straight to the point.
PL: How did you find the process of writing?
CR:You learn a lot when you write. Having to explain things in a way that makes sense forces you to really reflect deeply on the subject you are trying to analyze.
PL: What is the main selling point of this book, in your opinion?
CR:I tried to give a good overview of lean that goes past simple process improvement and removal of waste. It is not just about the tools or about the principles, but about the interaction between the two.
It is all based on real-life examples and on my own experience. I put in it what I have learned at Thales and elsewhere, hoping it will help others to fully grasp lean thinking.
PL: Who should read your book?
CR:It’s a simple book that everyone can learn from. People who don’t have a lot of time on their hands will definitely enjoy it. Lean coaches often find it useful, too, especially when they give it to their managers to read.
I recently found out (and was slightly, but positively surprised) that many Engineering Managers at Thales have read it too, which goes to show that the lessons in the book can help anybody, even people who work outside of manufacturing and often have a different mindset.
PL: What can people expect to learn from the book and how can they make the most of it?
CR:It is not a technical book, but it provides the fundamentals. It talks about lean as a systemic approach, in which everything is connected – if you do jidoka without kaizen or just-in-time, you will fail; if you do kaizen without respect, you will fail. Success is directly linked to your focus on customer value.
Cécile Roche is Lean Director at Thales Group. An electronics engineer, over the years Cécile has led several improvement projects and managed several units in Technical Operations. Today, she shapes, deploys and supports the lean approach to production and beyond for the entire Group. She is also responsible for the development of lean facilitators.