Respect for People

I interviewed a woman yesterday who is Director of Manufacturing for a contract manufacturing company. The company designs to specification and builds medical diagnostic equipment or sometimes builds to the customer’s design. Among the products are COVID testing machines—demand for which increased from 11 to 40 per month quite suddenly last year.

She was hired to improve productivity in manufacturing by initiating a system called Lean Manufacturing. I am a proponent of Lean thinking for manufacturing, and also for other activities. It has been a successful method for many companies. I should mention it’s also called by some as the Toyota Production System used successfully by that company.

The person who set up the interview told me the theme was “overcoming resistance and negative views” of Lean.

Why, I asked were there negative views?

“People thought that I was coming in to cut staff and cost many people their jobs,” she replied. “But,” I replied, “the first principle of Lean is Respect for People.”

She explained how they implemented Lean, how mandatory overtime was reduced so that people could spend time with families, how production went up, how people could use their new skills to help out when new projects came.

The second principle of Lean is to reduce waste. Some of the methods used are things you can do today—5 Whys (ask why five times in order to find the real problem); 6S (clean and organize your workspace); Kanban (signal when you’re about out of something in the cupboard); Kaizen (project with a wide variety of people organized for a short term to solve one problem).

Returning to that first principle—Respect for People. Notice all the people benefits this manager achieved. Think about how you could use the principle in your church, your home, your organization.

Didn’t we learn this from Jesus? He respected people of all races, genders, social diseases. He only poked at those who were too pompous to be open to change. Even when being falsely accused, he refused to disrespect anyone.

Respect for people is a good first principle for living.

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