Lean Frontiers: Are they differences in getting middle management on board from getting executive management support?
Are there differences in getting middle management from executive management on board for 1) developing the lean enterprise and 2) direct engagement on their part? What are the differences, if any?
Posted on May 9, 2015
Archives by Tag 'people'
Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: A checklist of key competences to have the right people in the right place at the right time

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Sunday, November 9, 2014
I like the question and I will try to answer from a duo perspective. One being a person who was hired and developed under specific competencies at Toyota and secondly through the lens of the trainer/leader. You know I think its important to not only look at how you promote into a KPO position but also what is the filtering process to bring team members into an organization before they even have an opportunity for promotions. Think of it as a leading indicator that is predictive for people capability. In my humble opinion ...

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David Meier

David Meier: Respect doesn’t mean that pamper or coddle people. Attitudes issues are adressed one on one

By David Meier, - Last updated: Saturday, August 2, 2014
Sheesh I am not sure where we got the idea that respect for people means we all stand around and sing Kumbaya! It certainly does not mean that you are unable to address performance issues! Here are a few statements from Toyota about respect- -"We respect people by challenging them." (giving people legitimate challenges to improve and use their thinking and ability to make the process better). People like challenges, but they also like to succeed and the reward of success is sweet. -"Respect does not mean that we pamper or coddle people. Living the Toyota way of life is difficult." (paraphrase ...

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Orry Fiume

Orry Fiume: The CEO must remove all barriers to lean, and some barriers are people. If one person must leave the company, do so with respect

By Orry Fiume, - Last updated: Friday, August 1, 2014
The problem that you cite is a common one. Below is an excerpt from an article that I wrote for the Journal for Organizational Excellence a few years ago. The at the beginning of the article explains that Lean is a Strategy, not a manufacturing tactic or cost reduction program. This excerpt is the part of the article that discusses things the CEO must do to increase the likelihood of a successful transformation: Mandate Lean. Perhaps the most important Lean “intervention” by Wiremold’s CEO was to make it clear that opting out of the Lean strategy was not a choice ...

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David Meier

David Meier: Do Lean with people rather than to people

By David Meier, - Last updated: Sunday, July 6, 2014
This sounds like a classic case of doing lean "to" people rather than with people. But let's go back to the original question- the fact of the matter is that the challenges of getting lean grow as you proceed. People think that if you get lean life is supposed to be easy. The opposite is true. Use the famous "low hanging fruit" analogy. After the "low fruit" (easy stuff) is picked what is left? The difficult challenges. The low hanging fruit were items that were in place to compensate for the underlying issues. Take them out and the issues emerge ...

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Arthur Byrne

Art Byrne: How much respect do you show your people?

By Arthur Byrne, - Last updated: Sunday, July 6, 2014
He should a] get someone to help him that understands what to do and how to go about it. The right outside consultant and a strong internal KPO would help a lot. And, b] he should examine his own behavior and approach. Does he show respect for people. Does he communicate well to all stakeholders. Is he hands on and leading or does stay in his office and issue orders. Does he create a culture where it is ok to fail or is a culture of fear. Is he approachable and liked by his workforce or standoffish where people aren¹t sure how to take him. My guess is ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: As a leader at any level 50% of your job is to develop your people

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Friday, March 7, 2014
So being raised at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK), I had the pleasure of seeing our temporary worker program evolve over many years to meet the needs of the company in an ever-changing market. I was also fortunate to be involved in certain areas of curriculum and training in the mid 2000’s for the program. Internally the term “variable workforce” is often used which implies exactly what it is, but for the most part it’s often called the “temp-to-hire” program. There is a purpose often with a good outcome if goals are met, unlike some ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: One of the first aims should be to develop people to use a systematic process for improvement

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Many, many people have been in your situation. The top wants lean, which they have some understanding of from somewhere, and they want you to go get it. “Develop a plan. Find a consultant.” You are correct that there are almost as many flavors of lean as there are consultants. And who knows what flavor your management got exposed to from the conference they attended, or the board member, or the COO who had an experience in a previous firm. Who knows what they expect? Operational excellence? Quick wins in cost reduction to please the owners by the end of ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Basic skills of active listening, facilitating, modeling behavior, giving and receiving feedback and more are all necessary to lead any people for anything and are critical for leading teams to improve processes.

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
In The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership the first step of the model is self development. Even that one step involves more then learning the scientific method. Toyota Business Practices, their scientific method for problem solving, is intended to not only solve problems but develop people to learn to follow the foundation of the Toyota Way--Challenge, Go to gemba to see first hand, kaizen methods, teamwork, and respect. These each involve a set of skills. As the leader of an improvement process learns these skills are all essential to successfully leading a team of people toward ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: If you develop people results will follow!

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Saturday, June 1, 2013
So how "lean" is a lean start-up? What an intriguing; yet, difficult question to answer- there are so many tangents of this in my opinion. For me I suppose it has a lot to do with how you or your organization defines Lean itself. It's amazing when I ask this question across various industry's the answers I get that are so far away from the true essence of Lean, no wonder its only a short-term "project" for many- start up or not. I think this within itself drives the thinking of an organization and how ...

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Lean Frontiers

Dave Meier: People need challenges to engage in their work, but they also need success

By Lean Frontiers, - Last updated: Monday, April 15, 2013
I have to say that it is unfortunate that "Lean" (or TPS or Lean Sigma or whatever) gets used as a sort of "weapon" against workers. This is of course contrary to the actual intent, which is more to "humanize" work. But like many things about TPS and life in general, there are apparent contradictions in many things. Toyota certainly attempts to maximize the "value" of the workers, but not in a brutal sort of way. At the same time there are high expectations from people. Toyota says, "We respect people by challenging ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Develop deep capability, don’t assign people to jobs in an office

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Friday, January 4, 2013
It is always difficult to add value when I wait until someone else has answered on the lean edge, particularly someone with the thoughtfulness and eloquence of Steve Spear.  I could simply say:  "I agree," but I will add a few thoughts.  Steve talks about the two alternative purposes which I will summarize as quick and dirty one-off projects compared to creating a high performance learning organization.  Few executives are interested in spending lots of time and money to be mediocre, but in fact that is exactly what they end up doing.  So ...

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Dave Brunt

Dave Brunt: Purpose, Process, People in Sales

By Dave Brunt, - Last updated: Thursday, December 20, 2012
My initial reaction, when first reading this question is to quote the famous phrase from the Training Within Industry materials – “If the learner hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught.” However this is a good question and one that deserves some discussion. As someone who has spent 14 years helping create examples of lean in car dealerships I have some hypotheses and some experience of the challenges of implementing lean in sales. Obviously understanding the root cause of failure is situational but here are my general observations. 1. Purpose is not always clearly understood. Different customers are at different stages in their ...

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Orry Fiume

Orry Fiume: Get field sales people to participate in shop floor kaizens!

By Orry Fiume, - Last updated: Sunday, November 25, 2012
I agree with the observation that the Lean movement has failed to recognize the importance of the sales team in capitalizing on Lean as a growth engine.  And I believe that the answer goes back to when we in the western world first started to become aware of what the "Japan, Inc" (AKAToyota) was doing.  It first manifested itself as "Just In Time" and we interpreted that as "just in time inventory management".  Later we recognized that JIT was part of something larger and we called that the "Toyota Production System".  But we ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Start with Production Control and Empower People through Standards

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Saturday, September 22, 2012
Hi Andrew, I will answer to my personal experience in regard to this question.  I think its a good one, it can bring out many dynamics that fall under that umbrella of thinking "flow vs batch" so I will try to cover several of them within my answer.   When I was first exposed to the Toyota Production System (TPS) "thinking" in 1988 at Toyota Motor Manuf. KY (TMMK) I made an assumption that if you weren't practicing one piece flow then you weren't effectively practicing TPS.  Now to explain that statement I was in a 2-week assimilation class before I ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Involvement and engagement of people at their process(es) where the work is being done must be a priority

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Saturday, July 14, 2012
It's always music to my ears when I hear a company is willing to invest time in people development from the executives to the floor level of the organization.  I believe that the training of the concepts or values are just the beginning of the lean journey, the more difficult task is the sustainment, improvement and growth of leaders and their practices to ensure the company is doing business in a way that meets customer expectations through people engagement in the value stream of order to customer. As we have all heard throughout time in the TWI realm that "repetition is the motherhood of all skills", ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: It depends on how many people you really need to make the effort on this specific improvement to take place with its adequate adjustment of standards.

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Sunday, June 3, 2012
Maybe the core question ends up being:  whose role is it to improve? The question seems too simple now: When we say we are improving specifically the "standards", and if by that we mean improving standardized work and its three documents, then very often that is done by a team as small as 2 people, the team member and his supervisor (or many times a process engineer), who can document, do time taking, record steps on paper, etc. On an extended definition, I think that in most cases, when we say we are improving standards, it is implied that there has been an improvement in the process first, so ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Lean leaders make people before they make parts

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Management is essentially about getting people to do what you want them to do, like having an extra pair of arms to implement your ideas, whereas leadership is about getting people to fight your battles for you. These are two very different approaches to any organizational role. In that sense, whether lean or not, leadership is about how you interpret your job, and then how successful you are at doing what you had in mind. There are endless studies and books about “leadership” and no one has quite put the finger on what it is that makes some leaders great. On ...

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Jim Huntzinger

Jim Huntzinger: Lean leaders spend the time developing the people with different knowledge, wisdom and experience to change and evolve the system and culture of the organization

By Jim Huntzinger, - Last updated: Saturday, March 3, 2012
To carry forward the points Jeff makes about differentiating between a lean leader and a traditional leader, we can also look at this from a systems view.  As Dr. Liker aptly describes a traditional leader with all the adjectives that we are familiar with; and often, these types of leaders do make changes with very good results. The longer term issue is these types of leaders rarely make the deep system changes needed to sustain the high level results.  So as soon as they depart the organization so do the high level results.  The have not spent the time developing the ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: A Lean Leader strengthens the business by developing people through coaching process improvement at the gemba

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Saturday, March 3, 2012
A Lean Leader strengthens the business by developing people through coaching process improvement at the gemba. When we think of a traditional leader with adjectives like charismatic, decisive, visionary, inspiring, tough, bold, and transformational.  This is a western interpretation of the leader as the individual who changes the game, turns the company around, makes the tough decisions, and gets results, results, results.  When we see results, and especially when we see a turnaround in the performance of a company, it is the CEO who gets interviewed and talked about.  It is understandable that Western leaders have big egos since they are ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: You must balance the principle of “build to takt” with the principle of “heijunka,” and the principle of “respect for people.”

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Tuesday, February 7, 2012
I appreciate this question from Jean-Baptiste Bouthillon who himself has become a serious student of lean and had to make decisions like this for his construction company.  I will start with his assumption that "production must follow the takt of customer demand."  It is always dangerous to take an ideal principle and turn it into a prescriptive statement.  "The ideal is working to achieve production to takt" is different then "thou shall always build to takt."  The ideal is a True North direction that you are working toward and you want it engrained into your DNA as it is a ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Assess along purpose (results), process (means), people (learning) framework of a lean management system

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Sunday, January 22, 2012
Lean adds new perspectives to the traditional ways of assessing executive performance, namely Results and People skills, and adds a third process or value stream dimension. These mirror the purpose (results), process (means), people (learning) framework of a lean management system. The lean logic behind this is that you need knowledgeable people running tightly integrated end-to-end value streams and projects to deliver results that will be sustained. In other words, good people running a good process generate good results. This also provides the right basis for redesigning these products, value streams and business models as circumstances change. A lean assessment starts ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: The essence of the Toyota Way is respect for people and continuous improvement

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I read Mike Rother's response and he gives an excellent  detailed explanation beyond which I will undertake.  I think there are two problems suggested by the question  First, the definition of lean as "eliminating waste" is inherently limiting.  Second, there is an implicit assumption that everything one should do should eliminate waste, and no activities should be undertaken that actually are not considered "value-added activities." These are both limiting assumptions.  Here are some examples of wasteful activities one would eliminate if we make these two assumptions: --all maintenance, especially preventative maintenance -- any inspection --any material handling --any accounting I could go on but you get ...

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Jamie Flinchbaugh

Jamie Flinchbaugh: Understanding the impact of developing your people

By Jamie Flinchbaugh, - Last updated: Wednesday, January 5, 2011
The latest Lean Edge question is How do Lean organizations develop their employees if Lean considers expenditure of resources other than for creation of value to be wasteful? First, a true lean organization isn’t obsessed with waste. If anything, they are obsessed with value.  Waste is anything more than the absolutely minimum required to add value to a product or service; waste is not just anything that doesn’t create value. I can’t imagine much value can be delivered without the right skills and capabilities in the organization. Therefore, I don’t think there is any conflict between developing employees and waste elimination. Second, ...

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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: How do we develop people?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Monday, January 3, 2011
How do Lean organizations develop their employees if Lean considers expenditure of resources other than for creation of value to be wasteful?
Mark Graban

Mark Graban: Lean is about continuous improvement and respect for people

By Mark Graban, - Last updated: Monday, November 22, 2010
As helpful as Wikipedia can be, it's also not the definitive source on many topics. In this case, the description of "Lean" is sorely lacking the people element. Lean and the Toyota Way are about both "continuous improvement" and "respect for people." Taiichi Ohno wrote that these were "equally important pillars." Equally important - let's emphasize that. Too many organizations focus on just the "continuous improvement" piece, even if "continuous" means a series of infrequent kaizen events to them. We have to focus, also, on the people side of things. One could argue if you focus ONLY on the people side, ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker:continually assessing what customers want, striving for perfection in satisfying customers and in every aspect of our production and service process, developing in people the ability and motivation to detect and solve deviations from perfect one-piece flow, leaders who are developing in people the ability to continuous improve, and a long-term value of the enterprise on satisfying customers and contributing to society.

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Monday, November 22, 2010
As you know Wikipedia is a kind of public free-for-all in how different topics get defined and analyzed and this person got there and took the time to write something so I give them credit. In a book I and coauthors just completed that will be out in the winter, entitled:  The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement, we argue that we may have misled the public through definitions of lean that focus on waste reduction.  If I may use a quote from that book: "At the risk of sounding disrespectful, what do all these people think they are doing by leaning ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Respect for People

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: Sunday, November 21, 2010
Question:  How do you define respect for people within the lean approach? I think "respect for people" is often interpreted as be nice. I‘d like to comment on another perspective, as suggested by this illustration from Toyota Kata: In studying Toyota I often got the impression that respect for people means that it's disrespectful of people to not utilize their human capability to learn and to grow. That is, each person’s working day would ideally include some challenge, and each person is being taught a systematic way of meeting challenges. I’m not suggesting that all of our work needs to be a challenge, nor ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Respect for People

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Friday, November 12, 2010
About a decade ago Toyota simplified its philosophy down to the two pillars mentioned - continuous improvement and respect for people. It is true that you won't find much written about "respect for people" but that is not to say that Toyota does not emphasize the concept in some obvious ways. The roots for the concept inside Toyota at least date back to Sakichi Toyoda's founding precepts in the 1930's or earlier depending upon the version. I think it is worth pointing out that the TWI training that Toyota implemented in the early 1950's from the United States after World War ...

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Jim Huntzinger

Jim Huntzinger: Respect for People is Getting Your Hands Dirty

By Jim Huntzinger, - Last updated: Thursday, November 4, 2010
There are multiple ways and methods to define respect for people.  Instead of specially defining it, I will give an example which illustrates one aspect of respect for people based on my experience. Note:  At the time of my story, I was not thinking about respect for people in the context of TPS, although I knew about it.  I was only thinking about my activity in the context of TPS as; I needed to get tasks done in order to get the lines running and flow functioning.  Only in reflection, many years later, did I grasp the function of respect for ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Clarify goals, mentor people one-on-one, and then move people around if you have to

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Monday, October 11, 2010
In the beginning it is quite normal for a person in a managerial position to be the main driver of Lean or any improvement program for that matter. In Toyota’s case Eiji Toyoda and Taiichi Ohno played large roles in building up the Toyota System. As time moves on however it is generally not possible for a single manager to continue to drive improvement. In a crisis or for a period of time top down change is feasible but in the long run it is often self defeating. In Toyota’s case there was a lot of frustration in the 1950’s over ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: People, Product, & Process Improvement

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Thursday, May 13, 2010
The difference between innovation and lean will depend a lot upon semantics and whose definition of "innovation" and "lean" we are using. For whatever reason the innovation tag seems to be applied a lot in situations where people are looking to improve products. The lean tag seems to get applied to factories trying to improve production processes. Successful companies though will need to work upon improving products, processes, and their people as well. In Toyota the concepts of respect for people and continuous improvement (Kaizen) are the pillars of the system. Kaizen has a strange connotation to me at least here ...

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Jim Huntzinger

Jim Huntzinger: Quality Is In The People

By Jim Huntzinger, - Last updated: Tuesday, April 13, 2010
As Mr. Micklewright points out one of the aspects of the lean business model is increasing productivity and efficiency – this is often the focus of many lean programs (program, unfortunately, instead of a business model).  This aspect is manifested in developing and implementing flow.  But quality is directly linked to flow, and this link is all too often missed, or ignored. In order to maintain good flow – that is constant and consistent flow (and ideally one-piece flow) – certain outcomes have to happen, and not just by circumstance; uptime on equipment, no long changeovers, consistent supply of the right ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Lean leadership is knowledge leadership – lean is for people with the ability to learn

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Friday, January 15, 2010
Lean is not always that hard. Sure it's work: difficult to think that any method  to perform better would not be. But more importantly, not all people take to it equally. A few find lean to be just work: challenging, but quite natural. Many will never get it. Peter Senge hits the nail right on the head as to the difficulties encountered with adopting the lean approach: 1) the learning component of lean is often underestimated, no matter how much the sensei insist upon it; 2) lean learning is based on acknowledging one’s mistakes and taking responsibility for the fact ...

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Peter Senge

Peter Senge: In transformations such as the lean management movement suggests, how do you help people discover the depth of personal commitment it takes to lead such changes?

By Peter Senge, - Last updated: Tuesday, January 12, 2010
In integrating lean and systems thinking in a genuine learning-oriented culture the part people consistently miss is the 'personal mastery' element, meaning not only personal vision but the willingness to examine deeply our taken-for-granted habits of thought and action and how we may be part of the problem. There are two types of problems embedded here: people who espouse the fad with no real deep commitment and people who are genuinely intent on transforming work cultures who lack the knowledge (and larger learning community) about how to build their own skills and challenge their own habits.
Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Can You Teach Lean without Bullying People?

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: Monday, January 4, 2010
Question:  Can you teach the lean ideal of respecting people without actually bullying them? It depends on what you mean by respecting people and by bullying. Toyota lists the five principles that underlie its managerial approach and business methods as Challenge, Kaizen (improvement), Genchi Genbutsu (go and see), Respect, and Teamwork. Interestingly, outside of Toyota lots has been written about the last four, but the principle that Toyota lists first -- Challenge -- has been overlooked. Yet based on my research, what Toyota is doing is very much about challenge, which can be defined as "a test of one's abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: If the goal is excellence then people will be stretched and it will not always be pleasant.

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I just happened to be working on yet another book in the Toyota Way series when I got this question. The book, called The Toyota Way to Excellence, is about the journey to lean by organizations outside Toyota. Believe it or not I was in the midst of writing a section called "managing change is political." Politics is the use or abuse of power. Whether it is viewed as use or abuse depends on the perspective and interests of who is doing the viewing. To lean change agents who are trying to help the organization ...

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Sandrine Olivencia

Tom Ehrenfeld: Can you teach the lean ideal of respecting people without actually bullying them?

By Sandrine Olivencia, - Last updated: Wednesday, December 23, 2009
From a distance, lean looks like such a nice, humanistic improvement approach—one that treats people with respect and generates knowledge from the ground up. That’s all well and good, but the practice of teaching, and doing, lean invariably involves conflict, frustration, and, to be honest, what seems like a fair amount of bullying from superiors to prod their employees to “get it.” Isn’t the reality of doing lean far more frustrating and conflicted than one would think? How do you get people on board in a meaningful way? How do you teach the gospel of respecting people without bullying them ...

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