There are some people who do not like me or my work, which is to be expected, but I have only on true hater, someone who, like no other, devotes a good bit of time and effort to hating me. Some time ago I learned who that person is. The person has at least two fake Twitter accounts (here and here), not for the purpose of defending themselves or their work but to disparage other people and their work. This includes ad hominem attacks, imputed motives, sophistry, and, occasionally, useful criticism. Some prominent Lean people follow these fake Twitter accounts in apparent approval of this predatory bullying behavior. Apparently “Respect for People” has its limits.
The purpose of these fake Twitter accounts seems to be to express one’s trenchant skills, an outlet for griping, to discredit other people’s work, and to influence people via disinformation cloaked in wit, humor, or sarcasm. Whether or not it achieves its purpose, it reveals towering immaturity and professional and personal weakness. The person has an intent to drive fear into the Lean milieu and create a mentally unsafe environment. The person exhibits a fearlessness in their perverse need to take a great risk and confident in their assumption that they would make no mistakes and never get caught. But, through persistent anonymous postings over many years, the person got sloppy and made enough mistakes to finally connect the dots.
The person is younger than me (I am 61 years old), obsessively manicures their appearance and reputation, and has thousands of followers on social media. They strongly advocate “Respect for People” and the need for leaders to drive out fear (obviously a façade), and present themselves as serious, sincere, and mature. The person was educated at top universities and earned multiple degrees, but does not have a Ph.D. The person is respected, admired, and has many friends and business associates in Lean world – though this person anonymously attacks their friends as well. No one is spared except, of course, the owner of the fake Twitter accounts, university chums, business associates, and the Lean movement leaders they idolize.
This person has everything to lose, personally and professionally, if they are outed. The loss of prestige and influence after decades of hard work would be devastating. And it would surely a big loss to the Lean community because this person has done admirable work. They have made many useful contributions to the body of Lean knowledge and have helped a lot of people. Like just about everyone else in Lean world, they write books, conduct workshops, speak at conferences, consult, and so on. The person is fond of the limelight, loves to network, and savors the fawning behavior of their followers.
The psychology that drives a persistent, multi-year effort on social media to anonymously do harm to others is fascinating. Before anonymous postings on social media, people found constructive ways to battle their ideological opponents and or people they personally disliked for whatever reason. People fought each other for decades but never anonymously because that violated common moral and ethical codes of conduct that were necessary to advance a given field of work. The toxic sociopath behavior of deceiving and manipulating one’s colleagues was not an accepted professional practice. But we now live in different times, and just because you can do it, relentlessly as this person craves, does not make it right.
So, while this person works earnestly to advance Lean management in one or more industries, they also work earnestly behind the scenes to deliberately harm Lean people, their work, and the Lean movement. The hypocrisy and duplicity is jarring — and their astrological sign isn’t even Gemini! I suspect the person who owns the Twitter accounts, and who has publicly claimed me as “my good friend,” will post something impotent in response to these words,
perhaps stupidly adding yet another dot for people to connect.