Lean management as applied to education, whether K-12 or higher education, will almost always be controversial because teachers fear management’s intentions. In particular, they fear the possibility that their job will change in undesirable ways or they may even lose their jobs. The fear is usually justified because in most cases management misunderstands Lean, and, as a result, they misapply Lean principles and practices and do harm to people – not just teachers, but students, parents, staff, and others.
Such outcomes are unfortunate and give people wrong impressions of Lean management. That is why it is so important to understand the “Respect for People” principle in Lean management – and that it is not optional. The “Respect for People” principle is a requirement for Lean to function properly. Without it, managers are not doing Lean. They are doing something else that should be called a different name (I have long used the term “Fake Lean”).
I have written much about the “Respect for People” principle, 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. Click on the image below to read the paper (.pdf file). The paper traces the evolution of the “Respect for People” principle from the early 20th century to the present. The focus 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.
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, as most managers in education do, 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.