Jim Womack’s most recent e-letter is one of the best I’ve read in quite a while. I think he really nails it, the compare and contrast of a Lean notion of “respect for people” and what traditional organizations mean when they say they respect people. Somewhat paraphrasing Jim:
- Set individual goals (top down), but give people wide latitude in how the work is done
- They “trust” their people to get their work done and solve problems on their own
- Managers and experts help people work around problems
- Play cheerleader and say “great job!”
- Highly specify how the work is done, but give employees latitude to improve things
- Managers and supervisors get directly involved with their employees in problem solving
- Managers ask the employees how root causes can be fixed
- They challenge employees in their thinking, driving toward better solutions in a collaborative way
For anyone who thought “respect for people” meant “being nice all the time,” I hope Jim’s letter helps clarify the true difference. The Lean organization had far less turnover and far better productivity than Jim’s “non Lean” example. Better process…. better results!
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