Planet Lean: The Official online magazine of the Lean Global Network
Remembering Freddy Ballé

Remembering Freddy Ballé

Dan Jones
November 10, 2023

FEATURE – On October 31st, the Lean Movement lost one of its pioneers. In this piece, Dan Jones reflects on Freddy Ballé’s legacy.

Words: Dan Jones, co-founder of the Lean Movement 

We all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before. One of those giants was Freddy Ballé, who passed away on the31st of October. He was one of the first people in Europe to understand the significance of the Toyota Production System while he was working at Renault in the 1970s. He went to Japan on annual pilgrimages to seek answers to his questions about TPS from leading senseis at Toyota.

He used this learning to build the Valeo ProductionSystem. Early on, Toyota told me that only two suppliers in Europe really understood TPS - Freddy Ballé at Valeo and Peter Marks at Robert Bosch. Freddy went on to develop similar Production and Product Development systems at Sommer Allibert and Faurecia.

One of the best things I have done was to convince Jim Womack to publish the first lean novels by Freddy and his sonMichael. The Gold Mine, The Lean Manager, and Lead withRespect showed a global audience the thinking and behaviors that made a lean system work.

I first met Freddy at a supply chain workshop organized by McKinsey in Paris, and every time I met him after that I came away with new insights into lean. This learning continued as his wisdom infected the articles and books that Michael and I worked on exploring the learning processes behind Lean Thinking.

I can still hear his voice saying, “Keep your focus on the detail of the work and understand its significance for the customer and the system as a whole.” Thank you, Freddy, for your example and your inspiration.

These wise words are more relevant than ever, as Toyota not only develops solid state batteries but is leading the way to scale up production of one of the most important building blocks of the post-carbon era, alongside its pioneering work on hydrogen fuel cells.

THE AUTHOR

Dan Jones is co-founder of the Lean Movement

Read more

Dan Jones on lean as a strategy to create better products
July 12, 2016
Dan Jones on lean as a strategy to create better products

FEATURE – This powerful article explains why we should place learning at the heart of our lean strategy to build better products – something Toyota has always done – and how management fits in the picture.

Continue reading
Deep dive in a lean digital company #3
May 6, 2021
Deep dive in a lean digital company #3

FEATURE – The third article in this new series discusses Theodo’s approach to talent recruitment and development, to ensure the right resources are there to support the company’s growth at all times.

Continue reading
A virtual book club got us started on our lean journey
June 13, 2018
A virtual book club got us started on our lean journey
virtual book club lean manager

FEATURE – A UK-based team of client services managers working for HR consultancy Mercer is using a virtual book club to take their first steps into the world of lean thinking.

Continue reading
The importance of transparency: lessons from a food scandal
September 30, 2016
The importance of transparency: lessons from a food scandal

OPINION – When do our mistake become an ominous sign that we are giving up on our customers and people? Following the salmonella contamination in cereals in Israel, the author reflects on business purpose and the importance of transparency.

Continue reading

Read more

No items found.