By November 5, 2007 3 Comments Read More →

“Beat Down On Them”

As I thought about this post earlier, with the employee quote about being beaten down, I had a flashback to my time at GM, circa 1996.

While we were in the midst of trying to implement Toyota methods, with the leadership of a new plant manager who was trained at NUMMI, we had a superintendent (the #2 in charge of the plant) who didn’t have the same mindset.

His unfortunately classic line was, when complaining about a manager (and by extension, the employees), “you have to beat down on them, beat down on them, BEAT DOWN ON THEM, until they do… exactly… what… they’re… told.”

What a disgusting philosophy of management. And he meant it to (try to picture the fist pounding gesture he made as saying that). Attitudes like that, as opposed to a lack of technical Lean competency, is what slowed GM’s plant progress, to be sure.

Lean leaders don’t want employees who do exactly what they’re told. The contrast to Toyota is so clear and obvious.


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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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3 Comments on "“Beat Down On Them”"

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  1. pete abilla says:

    This is very sad, Mark. I feel badly for the employees.

  2. Rick Foreman says:

    Hard to believe such a thing existed. Yet, this man had twin counterparts at the aerospace company I worked at for 22 1/2 years. When thinking of the shortage of skilled workers within the manufacturing environment, maybe we should view the impact of not showing dignity and respect for multiple years upon industries. I’ve seen way to many companies only use the “tools” side of TPS, while leaving off the respect for employees.

  3. Anonymous says:

    We are starting to understand some of the old emotional scars you have now, Mark! What a sad example.

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