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Monday, September 26, 2016

Respect for People is More than Being Nice

As a child our parents teach us to be nice to people. Treat people with respect. "Respect for People" is one of two key element in Lean thinking we have learned from Toyota. I have learned from my own personal Lean journey that many organizations fall short in this area.  It generally is not from a lack of trying but from fully understanding respect for people.  It is more than being nice.

Respect for people can be defined by the following 6 elements:

Don't Trouble Your Customer
Your customer is anyone who consumes your work or decisions
Relentlessly analyze and change to stop troubling customers
- Don't force people to do wasteful work
- Don't give them defects
- Don't make them wait
- Don't impose wishful thinking on them
- Don't overload them

Develop People and Then Build Products
- Managers act as teachers, no directors
- Mentor people closely, for years, in engineering and problem solving
- Teach people to analyze root causes and make problems visible; then they discover how to improve

Managers "Walk the Talk"
- Managers understand and act on the goal of "eliminating waste" and continuous improvement in there own actions and decisions - and employees see this

Teams and Individuals Evolve Their Own Practices and Improvements
- Management challenges people to change and may ask what to improve
- Empower the worker
- Workers learn problem solving and reflection skills
- Workers decide how to improve

Develop Teams
- Team work, not group work is part of culture
- Everybody is part of a team

Build Partners
- Form long relationships based on trust
- Help partners improve and stay profitable

From this definition or understanding of respect for people you can see it is much more encompassing.  There are a number of ways to show respect for people in your organization. A good place to start is with learning.  Knowledge and the proper application makes continuous improvement possible. Just be sure to practice respect for people in all your continuous improvement efforts.

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  1. Well stated. Respect for people is much more complex that simply whether the firm has created a "country club" atmosphere replete with perks and other symbols of days gone past.

  2. thanks for the post. interesting reading this and thinking on my experiences in Japan where a lot of these behaviors were evident. Respect is something that is very much built into Japanese culture although in a different way to how we understand it

  3. What is the difference between "team work" and "group work"?

  4. This post and your insights came at a very timely point as our team is "forming and storming". Thank you.