I came across one of those philosophical bits that people slap up on Facebook for reasons often known only to them that they apparently got from Eleanor Roosevelt, via Ziglar.com’s twitter feed, that struck me as particularly relevant. It said:
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
The degree to which ‘professional management’ – the three headed monster of the publicly traded companies, elite academia and Wall Street - has dehumanized business is appalling; and the cavalier manner in which they go about it should cause good people everywhere to be alarmed.
In The Heart and Soul of Manufacturing I wrote, “Understanding the business through the accounting system cannot help but to dehumanize the business, which flies in the face of everything people of faith and principles believe in. Lean companies bring out the accounting system, overhaul it so that it reflects the way they want to manage the business, then kick it into the background and manage the business directly, relegating accounting to a side issue – numbers that are occasionally helpful but not central to decision making. In doing so they re-humanize the business.”
In a blurb plugging my new book, The Heart and Soul of Manufacturing, economist Jerry Bowyer wrote, “The economy runs on knowledge, which means it runs on learning, which means it runs on curiosity.” That word – ‘curiosity’ - is pretty important. Jon Miller and Mike Wroblewski talked about it in their book “Creating a Kaizen Culture”, stating that in “Traditional culture: Leaders have answers” while in a “Kaizen Culture: Leaders have curiosity”.
Last October I stepped out of an elevator at the Drake Hotel in Chicago where I was hosting a Value Stream Management Conference and ran into John Cook from New Zealand. John is an extraordinary Lean leader, owning a very Lean company called Stainless Design. It is as Lean as they come and it is very, very successful.
I asked John how he thought the Conference was going and he commented that he was impressed with how nice the other Lean leaders were that he met at the event. I should note that ‘nice’ is a good word to describe John; he is a very giving, kind and generous man.
While thousands of American manufacturers are slogging along through gut-wrenching lean transformations, overhauling cultures, management processes and factory floors the folks on Wall Street and in Washington are doing their level best to render those efforts moot. Through September of last year special interest groups – mostly investment and banking lobbies – in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have poured some $198 million into the pockets of Congressmen and Congresswomen.
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