An aspect of Lean management that is poorly understood by both management practitioners and academics is the evolution of the “Respect for People” principle in progressive (Lean) management, beginning with the work of Frederick Winslow Taylor. I have written much about this critically important principle over the last 15 years, but my graduate student, Mark Gajewski, has taken this an important step further.
I’d like to share with you a fine paper that Mark has written in partial fulfillment of his Master’s degree requirements in Technology Management. Click on the image to read the paper (.pdf file). Mark currently works as an Engineering Program Manager for a global medical device firm, and has a broad work background in product and process design, quality, manufacturing, operations, and program management in consumer products, automotive and medical device industries.
Mark’s interest in Lean management began through his work as a manager whose perspective has been to improve processes and peoples’ capabilities, rather than the traditional “driving results.” In his role as a production manager for a global medical device firm that had previously undergone a Lean transformation, but with subsequent backslide, and while taking my course in Lean leadership (TM572), Mark recognized the importance of the “Respect for People” principle.
The paper traces the evolution of the “Respect for People” principle from the early 20th century to the present. The focus is of the paper is people who have demonstrated critical elements of the “Respect for People” principle in actual management practice, through study of original works, to assure facts are obtained from the source as is customary in Lean problem-solving. Importantly, Mark excludes ex post facto analyses by career academics because their interpretation of intent and practice of progressive management is often distorted by their lack of day-to-day and strategic business experience.
While it is a fine work of academic scholarship, this paper is entirely practical. In reading it, you will recognize that the “Respect for People” principle is not a recent development. You will learn the limitations of having a technocratic comprehension of Lean, and the critical importance of the “Respect for People” principle in assuring successful, non-zero-sum (win-win) outcomes. You will also learn that despite relentless study, Lean management remains poorly understood by most and has far more to offer than meets the eye.
When someone asks, “What comes after Lean?” the answer should be: “What makes you think you know Lean?”