I got a couple of reader emails last week that prompted me to think about Lean and the Toyota Way principle of “respect for people.” Whether it’s a supposedly “Lean” environment or not, why is true “respect” so often missing?
In one case, a major manufacturing company (one that touts their Lean and Six Sigma efforts) did the following to machinists in one division:
- Management announced some parts/components were going to be produced in Mexico, instead of the U.S.
- The factory sent some machinists to train their replacements and help set up the new shop.
- The machinists now spend time “reworking 50% of what comes from the Mexico factory” before final assembly is done in the U.S, factory.
- The machinists assume that eventually ALL production will be moved to Mexico.
In what ways (and how many ways) do those actions violate the Toyota “respect for people” principle? Would you even consider a company that does these sorts of things to be working on “Lean” or can we call it “Half Lean” because they’re not focused on respect for people? I don’t know if we can even call it “Half Lean” since I’m not sure if they’re even reducing waste, overall (and eliminating waste is the other pillar of the Toyota Way).
In the second example, a hospital reader says they are starting to work on Lean, but the environment is full of fear. People are afraid of autocratic, snap decisions from administrative and medical leaders. The CEO, when walking through the idea, barks orders and makes snap decisions based on a quick observation. They are afraid that changes they are making will be “undone” by an autocratic leader. The team is trying to use data and analysis, but leaders aren’t setting that example for them.
In what ways do those practices violate the “respect for people” principle? Seems like the hospital leadership needs Lean training, not just the “workers” right?
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