Deepening our Understanding of Lean Manufacturing and Respect for Humanity with Norman Bodek


Here is the second LeanBlog Podcast, featuring author and consultant Norman Bodek, President of PCS Press.

The first one can be found here and you can visit the main Podcast page, which includes information on how to subscribe via RSS or via Apple Podcasts.

MP3 File

LeanBlog Podcast #2 Show Notes and Timeline

  • More on airport near misses here and here
  • 2:55 Respect for people, the key difference between Toyota and American companies who aren't maximizing lean
  • 4:45 Why managers are responsible — not setting up the process properly and not giving power to the people who are in contact with the customer
  • 6:00 Toyota realized that to give people respect, you have to give them power
  • 6:30 In his first trip to Japan in 1981, Norman didn't see people waiting in the factories
  • 6:55 How “jidoka” and the separation of man and machines allowed one person to run seven machines
  • 8:21 Why it's OK to have the machine wait instead of having people wait
  • 8:31 Norman is speaking at the Lean Accounting Conference
  • 9:30 “The machine should be no bigger than five times the size of the part.”
  • 10:45 How do we get managers to take responsibility for the design of the system?
  • 11:55 How Fujio Cho changed the “line stop” by adding time buffers, so the whole factory doesn't shut down — why Taiichi Ohno wouldn't have liked that
  • 12:20 Ohno liked the whole plant to shut down because it forces you to find the root cause
  • 13:32 Why you don't criticize people as a manager, how to bring out creative ideas
  • 14:54 “Toyota was the most ruthless organization in Japan… Ohno was a terror… but from this comes the most humanistic management system.”
  • 15:34 “A Toyota manager is told to ask, not tell.”
  • 16:55 “Blame closes people up like an oyster.”
  • 18:39 Why we should want people to make their own work easier and more interesting
  • 19:25 “If we want to compete with the Toyotas of the world, we have to learn how to bring out the best of our people.”
  • 19:38 “We send work to China and Toyota comes here to make cars.”
  • 19:50 Discussion of Toyota's hiring approach and selectivity
  • 22:10 Our management system is broken…
  • 23:00 How healthcare is better about no layoff pledges along with lean and how
    that helps

If you have feedback on the podcast, or any questions for me or my guests, you can email me at or you can call and leave a voicemail by calling the “Lean Line” at (817) 993-0630 or contact me via Skype id “mgraban”. Please give your location and your first name. Any comments (email or voicemail) might be used in follow ups to the podcast.

Here is an link to Norman Bodek's Books, and in particular:

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

Did you like this post? Make sure you don't miss a post or podcast — Subscribe to get notified about posts via email daily or weekly.

Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

Get New Posts Sent To You

Select list(s):
Previous articleMore Shameless Cross Promotion
Next articleNew Blog: Team Leaders’ Resource Library
Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. My name is Ed, and I’m currently an Assistant Manager at a Toyota Manufacturing facility in Indiana. Norman’s comments about Toyota are dead on. We here at Toyota think of problems as true opportunities. I’ve worked at GM & Ford alike, and the differences between the typical US manufacturing system and TPS are significant. It all boils down to identifying waste, Kaizen, and how you treat people. One last key note is that many companies read lean manufacturing books, implement the ideas and call themselves lean. This isn’t so, to be lean, it also takes a culture change in your organization, one which takes some, years to generate.

  2. Hi Ed – Thanks for your visit to the blog and for your comments. Please come back often and let us understand more about the Toyota Production System and let us know if we (or I) are wrong about anything Toyota related.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.