“A real irony is that ‘respect for people’ requires that people feel the pain of critical feedback.” — Akio Toyoda
Yes, that’s me; the Bad Boy of Lean. For those of you who don’t already know, I have a bad reputation. I tend towards the negative (I’m an engineer, details matter) and I freely challenge the work of others regardless of their standing (I’m adventurous). I earned these blemishes by doing five simple things: Thinking, asking questions, identifying problems, studying problems, and sometimes discovering innovative solutions.
If you only know me from social media — which is a bad way to know someone — you could easily conclude that I am an asshole because of my criticism of Lean (all I’m doing is pulling the andon cord). But at the same time, I have a great love for TPS and Lean and have been a passionate advocate for 25 years. My doing both confuses people. Is it necessary? Yes. Why do it? It’s called being “woke” — aware of problems in the construction and execution of Lean over time. And as a Gemini, the twins are curious about different but complementary problems — Lean success and Lean failure.
If I had a good reputation I would constantly worry about my status. And then, having status, I would spend a lot of time and effort to improve my status, as others invariably do. That would distract me from doing important work that virtually nobody else does. Having a bad reputation is a blessing because it enables me to do the work that needs to be done. I own it, totally.
My work in getting to the truth and advancing knowledge is not for everyone. Some people appreciate that I speak truth to power, challenge the status quo, and point out the facts of a situation (example). Others don’t like it, but they learn a lot from my work and it changes their thinking and actions. Then there are the Lean influencers (the big names in Lean world), who, almost unanimously, dislike me — a lot — for pulling the andon cord when needed. Hate is probably the better word. Rather than be woke, it’s clear that they would rather I be slept.
I don’t care about fitting in with the Lean influencer crowd or how they define me. What I do care about is moving forward in support of my students, Lean practitioners, and others whose desire it is to learn and improve. I care that the information that they get is accurate and that they have a clear understanding of reality so that the actions they take to improve are not futile.
Respect for people can manifest itself in unexpected ways.
“They laugh at me because I’m different. I laugh at them because they’re all the same.” — Kurt Cobain