Lean should NOT be based on Respect for People.

It is about responsibility. Responsibility requires a huge commitment while respect is an attribute earned by being responsible.

As Toyota emerged from the second world-war they acknowledged that they had a responsibility to look after their idle workforce. Noble, but with a slight problem … Toyota was on the brink of bankruptcy. However, in the ruins there remained an engine plant and a couple of high-risk lenders agree to provide some funding to enable the company to manufacture a small vehicle that was in high demand within Japan.

No real magic … the basis of what would become known as the Toyota Production System was all about managing cash-flow. The production methodology had to allow the company to acquire materials, assemble the materials into a product, sell the product and collect the cash from the sale all before the supplier’s invoice was due.

To this day Toyota will only implement or leverage methodologies that will increase throughput or cash-flow within the operations … it may be batch production, it could be single-piece flow or a little of both but what remains important is the Toyota respects the “Gift of Time” provided to them by their employees and Toyota acknowledges that with this gift they also assume a huge responsibility.

A gift is something that is given willingly and often with thought and as a recipient of the gift you are expected to admire the gift and hopefully cherish it forever. As the recipient you have a huge responsibility to acknowledge this gift.

The “Gift of Time” is the ultimate gift that a human can provide … since it is a non-renewable resource and once used … poof! It is gone forever, only to be reviewed through some sort of archive activity, a picture, a song or a memory.