Work That is Worthy of Humans

Taiichi Ohno once said it was management’s job to make work a place where the talent is able to add ‘creative ideas and changes’ to the work, in order to do work that is worthy of humans. He went on to say:

“The competition to get each person to add their good ideas is not a race between workers for good suggestions, it is a race with the managers and their workers on one side and competitive forces in the world on the other side. It is a competition about how quickly you can get each person to use their minds creatively to improve their work. It’s a race to get people to think.

I recently asked a COO of a Fortune 100 company that touts its lean management program, what his opinion of “Respect For People” was. He began to discuss the importance of being respectful to workers. His premise was “respect is about being nice” (and I’ll make up the rest here according to what I think it meant), “while manipulatively getting the most work out of them with the least amount of pay and effort possible.” To be sure, he did not say that but I think I could have coaxed something like that out of him if we had continued.

I say manipulatively because the entire foundation of his answer was an “us vs. them” scenario, similar to what is portrayed in the Charlie Chaplin movie in less than five minutes.

In contrast, Mr. Ohno’s entire premise is that we’re in this together, and we’re all here to learn and be creative, so that we can win. Really wanna know what Toyota is doing differently? That’s pretty much it in a nutshell, right there. The rest is just minor details.

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About Jim

I am the founder of the Lean Expert Academy, partner in the Lean Leadership Institute, and author of the soon to be released book, Lea(R)n Thinking. I am also the CEO of a lean consulting company where I train lean consultants to implement the exact methodology and techniques that you will learn here.

I’ve been called “The Wolf” . . . because for many years, every time something went wrong at a client’s implementation, I got the call and not only fixed it, but got even more consulting work out of “the crisis.”

I’m on a quest to “bend the universe.” I believe it’s not okay for us to sit back and just let the lean movement limp along, as it has over the past 30 years. It’s time for all of us to turn up the power and turbocharge the efforts, so that everything that has the name management attached to it, is done with lean thinking and lean management.

My goal is to produce as many excellent lean thinking implementers as possible – to arm you with the ability to recreate what I and my team of consultants have been doing consistently for the past six years.

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