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How does ‘Lean’ translate into French?

October 20th, 2009 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

My latest read is ‘The Puritan Gift’ from the Hoppers, plugged by Bill Waddell both here and here (some performance, getting four links into the opening sentence, but the only reason I’m reading it is through Bill’s recommendation.

And I agree with you, Bill. It’s a good read (I wouldn’t go as far as ‘great’) and certainly makes up for me having studied Romans and Vikings in school history lessons rather than something a little more meaningful.

I couldn’t wait to get to Chapter 4 – “The profound influence of French technology”. Without wanting to spoil the fun for those of you still on

The French Minitel, a precursor to the PC

The French Minitel, a precursor to the PC

chapter 3, this reviews the French contribution to military and industrial successes back in the 18th and 19th centuries. Having been in France now for coming up to 25 years (next May), it was interesting to understand the roots of why the French are mad (and very good) at all things technical. How

many of you remember the Minitel, which (if my distant memory isn’t failing me) appeared at around the same time as the PC, if not before, and was certainly a lot more popular…. over here, it never caught on anywhere else.

And it is still the same today. The French are simply great (not finished the sentence yet)… technically. EADS and Dassault in the aerospace industry, TGV trains which rush you home at over 200 mph, Cap Gemini, Logica and Atos Origin all selling you SAP (!!*?).

But what is the French for ‘Lean’. For apart from Freddy and Michael Ballé, we don’t seem to have any great number of experts over here. Certainly, 80 years after Henry Ford and fifty after Taiichi Ohno, there is still a great deal of ignorance on the potential power of Lean.. or even what it all entails.

Which makes the challenge of developing an understanding of Lean even more exciting. Our French blog will hopefully be making an important contribution to that. Watch this (and that) space.

And if anyone has a suggestion for translating Lean…..?

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  1. October 23rd, 2009 at 04:51 | #1

    Hello Peter,

    I say ‘great’, you say ‘good’ – close enough. I think we agree the book is worth reading.

    As far as what to call lean in French, I think ’supérieur’ has a very nice ring to it.

    Best wishes on your efforts to help French manufacturing on the long, lean journey.

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