Episode #91 is a very special one-on-one conversation with Dr. Stephen Covey, recorded at the Shingo Prize Conference in Salt Lake City last week. My main question to Dr. Covey was to ask his thoughts on Toyota’s “Respect for People” principle, sometimes called ‘Respect for Humanity.” You can listen to the audio or you can read a transcript below in this post.
Click to play:
MP3 File (run time 10:40)
After the chat with Dr. Covey, I share a few thoughts at the end of the podcast about Dr. Covey’s work and Lean, along with a little background about the interview and my personal reaction to speaking with him.
A partial transcript of the conversation:
Mark Graban: The one question I would ask for your thoughts on is Toyota’s principle of “respect for people,” or often referred to as “respect for humanity.” Could you share some thoughts on the importance of respect in workplace, what does that really mean?
Dr. Covey: I think that it’s of profound importance because it means you are caring and you trust them to do the right thing.
Mark: You were talking earlier about the industrial model and trust seems to not come with that.
Dr. Covey: It doesn’t come with that. And the industrial model is obsolete. You know, the supervision is command and control, it’s top down. There’s such co-dependency about it.
Mark: So we have a situation maybe where we have to convince the industrial world that this industrial model is…
Dr. Covey: … is obsolete. But it’s hard to do that because they’re so used to it… kissing up to the hierarchy.
Mark: Have you been able to visit with Toyota?
Dr. Covey: I have. I was with the President of Toyota in Japan. We were walking in the plant and he said, “Any person in this plant can close the line down if he can show to the others that would improve quality and lower cost.”
Mark: And so there’s a trust inherent in that?
Dr. Covey: Definitely, and it tells you also about the culture. If he can show to the others…
Mark: It’s very exciting to have you participate in the Shingo Prize conference and to share your message with the Lean community. What are your hopes, with your professorship at Utah State, to try to help influence…
Dr. Covey: Yes, and also I am very appreciative of that opportunity with Utah State. And I think that the Shingo Prize is one to be really sought after and to be won. It’s very significant. But I think that in the next few years it will be knowledge-worker age companies that will win the Shingo Prize, because they are developing and empowering their people.
Thank you to Bob Miller, the Executive Director of the Shingo Prize, to Steve von Niederhausern, the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Shingo Prize, and to Michael Ockey, who works for Dr. Covey and FranklinCovey for their help in lining up the time with Dr. Covey and for helping me prepare. I’m going to have a separate podcast discussion with Bob on his thoughts about Lean and Dr. Covey’s work.
One of the conference attendees, an executive from a major corporation told me how they have given every manager the Covey training each year for the last 15 years. This leader thinks that leadership training has been the key to their success with Lean.
What are your experiences with Dr. Covey and his teachings? Do you see it as a core component of Lean, a helpful add-on, or fairly irrelevant? What do you think of the partnership between Dr. Covey and the Shingo Prize?
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