Monday, December 26, 2011

Sincere Mind

By Al Norval

I like this phrase. They seem like easy words to begin with but there is a depth to this phrase that goes on deeper and deeper. Isn’t that true of many Lean concepts? The more we know, the deeper the meaning.

Where does Sincere Mind start?

It goes back to one of the original Lean pillars that Toyota gave us of “Respect for Humanity”. This doesn’t just mean the workings of our interpersonal relationships with one another; rather it means giving people work that fully utilizes the talents both of their minds as well as their bodies.

Here’s the fundamental question:

Why should team members waste their energy, time and talent doing non-value added work?

Giving Team Members non-value added work doesn’t show respect for them and their capabilities. For example – I can’t count the number of times I’ve observed Team Members sitting idly by watching a machine do the work, waiting to either feed more materials into the machine or to get it started again should it stop. The people are there to serve the machine and not vice versa. What a waste. Don’t get me wrong, machines are needed for many tasks to eliminate the burden and strain of heavy, repetitive work and I’m not suggesting we eliminate these machines although many times they are candidates for Quick Changeover and small lot sizes. I am suggesting that we think carefully about the work and design the work differently to add in time for people to solve problems and work on waste elimination and driving more value to Customers.

Isn’t one of the highest forms of respect giving people work that challenges them to learn and to grow and makes full use of their capabilities as an individual. Under this definition, letting people solve problems is a high form of showing respect.

Another concept tied to this is Safety. Giving Team Members work that is unsafe doesn’t show respect for them. Safety not only means a workplace that is physically safe but one that is emotionally safe as well. One that is free of harassment and discrimination. Having people work in a safe environment shows respect for them as people. That’s why Safety is always number 1 and is the first thing we address in a Lean transformation.

So “Respect for Humanity” means not only giving people work that fully utilizes their capabilities but also means creating an environment where people can use their talents to their fullest ability.

By doing this we as Leaders show that we have a “Sincere Mind”


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