Today, Labor Day, is an opportunity to reflect on the valuable contributions made by labor to the economy and in the production of goods and services that we consume. They do this while having to contend with stagnant or declining wages, demands for increased productivity and increased service levels, major changes in the labor markets (less manufacturing, global labor supply), and new technology (software and automation).
Their efforts to persevere in their value-creating work is truly heroic considering how little their reward has been due to the changed view of the purpose of business.
The concept of “balance” is fundamental to Lean management: production leveling, percent loading charts, takt time, cross-training, and, ultimately, “Continuous Improvement” balanced by “Respect for People.” Leaders who practice Lean correctly understand they must balance competing interests and cannot leave workers economically disadvantaged.
We must recognize these as our genuine role models for business leadership, not those who deconstruct the purpose of business to simplify their job and expand their rewards.