Au secours

Is French Lean going downhill? Have we reached the peak of the wave?

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned the government initiative to ‘relaunch French industry’. Well, not only did the final conclusions not make any mention of Lean at all, but this weekend’s regional elections represented a heavy defeat for the right-wing governement party. Hopefully, there was no connection between the two events.

Joking apart, most of the initiatives that get press exposure seem to be getting off on the wrong track. Actually, McKinsey (no less), back in 2008, came up with the recommendation that the government should be rolling out Lean just about everywhere to get the economy kick-started. I’m sure that there are several of us that would have come up with the same conclusions for a fraction of the cost. Anyway, the government took heed, and starting launching initiatives through the regional economic boards. In every region, twenty or so companies got the opportunity to pay half the going rate (which, by the way, is a rate superior to what would normally be paid, but that’s government for you), the other half being footed by the taxpayers, to have the privilege of twenty days’ consultancy support to ‘roll out’ Lean. And fabulous videos were made showing just how effective the approach was, mentioning the consultants in question in just about every other sentence.

Well, that’s how things work over here.

And more recently, we now have AFNOR (which is something along the lines of the ‘French Agency for Normalisation’, noted for their work on the ISO standards, who have come up with ‘the very first official Black (and other colour) Belt certification’. Official! You must be guessing by now that there probably is a catch in all of this.

You are right. The so-called “experts” driving the Black Belt certification… are the very same ones lining their pockets with government grants to provide a mere twenty days consultancy support to the poor, deluded company directors who reckon that they are going to become Lean overnight.

In summary, we now have a country where the government and its initiatives have never had any less credibility, Lean doesn’t figure in their programmes anyway, and the SMEs see Lean as a means of getting some free cash off the government.

Although we do now proudly boast the world’s first ‘official’ Black Belt Certification.

Au secours.

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