Thursday, June 5, 2014

Politeness – the Simplest Virtue - Part 2

By Pascal Dennis

In Part 1, I described Politeness as the ‘simplest virtue and the gateway to the Great Virtues’.

I noted that at Lean Pathways, politeness is a core value & standard. We treat one another with respect, even as we challenge one another’s ideas. We’re the same with clients.

Some people have the mistaken idea that “change” requires abuse – shouting, humiliation and the like. Often they’ve been trained by Japanese senseis in the ‘old style’, meaning severe, intolerant, even cruel.

I was an Aikido fanatic for fifteen years, practicing four times per week, becoming a deshi.

Our main Japanese senseis, Kanai-sensei in Boston, Yamada-sensei in New York, were ‘Shihan’, sent out by the founder, Morehei Ueshiba, to teach the profound system.

They were certainly old school, and extremely tough – on their most senior and capable students. With beginners like me, they were kind and humorous.

They got tougher, as I got better – because that’s what I needed to grow. Because of their fundamental decency, I understood that their severity was purposeful:

By setting higher and higher standards, and being ever more demanding, they were pushing me and my fellow deshi to higher levels.

Kanai-sensei, sadly, has passed on. Yamada-sensei remains a force of nature. I’m eternally grateful to them.

When I became an instructor at Toronto Aikikai, I tried to follow their example.

Don’t want to be misunderstood. I am not advocating compromising standards.

Rather, we respect the standard of politeness, and gradually raise all other standards as the deshi grows.

My Toyota senseis were very similar to Kanai- and Yamada-sensei. The better I got, the tougher they became.

This approach is especially important as we deploy Lean thinking outside the factory.

Abuse is, ahem, unlikely to be effective in hospitals, design studios, or IT development shops.

Imagine, you’re Chief Medical Officer and a leading infant oncologist, and some bozo consultant comes in and starts hollering at you…



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