Lean Blog — 474: Interview with Norbert Majerus on Lean-Driven Innovation; From a Farm in Luxembourg to Factories and a Shingo Award

Episode page with video, transcript, and more

Joining us for Episode #474 of the Lean Blog Interviews Podcast is Norbert Majerus. He has his own firm now but previously worked for Goodyear, joining the company in 1978 in his home country of Luxembourg. He moved to Akron in 1983 and worked disciplines in the Goodyear innovation centers in both locations, retiring in 2018.

His first book (2016) Lean-Driven Innovation: Powering Product Development at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company was a Shingo Award recipient. His latest book is Winning Innovation: How Innovation Excellence Propels an Industry Icon Toward Sustained Prosperity.

In today’s episode, we discuss Lean and innovation — how they co-exist, how Lean Product Development drives innovation, and how to truly engage people by leading with humility and respecting people.

Questions, Notes, and Highlights:

  • What’s your Lean origin story?
  • Goodyear had tried Lean a few times in MFG – didn’t work well — WHY?
  • This was before Billy Taylor – they worked together 5 years
  • Growing up on a farm — Toyota is said to be a company of farmers… how did Lean resonate with you?
  • Lean is Lean? – doing this in unusual places, it’s all the same
  • Definitions? Innovation vs. improvement?
  • Make sure we don’t stifle creativity (we can all be creative, as Norm Bodek always said)
  • Toyota and The Innovator’s Dilemma
  • Akio Toyoda stepping aside as CEO — a new push for EVs there?
  • Can combine lean and innovation
  • How best to connect “Respect for people” and “rapid problem solving and experimentation” for product development and innovation? Humility…
  • Can you be innovative enough for long enough withOUT those lean culture concepts? 
  • Your new book is in a Business novel format – why write it this way?

The podcast is sponsored by Stiles Associates, now in its 30th year of business. They are the go-to Lean recruiting firm serving the manufacturing, private equity, and healthcare industries. Learn more.

This podcast is part of the #LeanCommunicators network