Employee Development · Lean

A Great Lean Waste – the under-utilization of people’s talents

In the 1800’s, I believe that most men were highly skilled craftsmen or farmers and along comes Frederick Taylor and Henry Ford. They simplified work. Set up the assembly line, and gave people repetitive and boring work. But, Ford Motor became the most successful and one of the richest companies in the world. Almost all of the other major companies followed Ford and took away the need for skilled labor.’

The Ford system has lasted for over 100 years, reducing many people to act like machines, many easily replaced by robots, making a living but having undignified jobs.

Toyota and other companies are slowly making a breakthrough. Toyota has two pillars for the Toyota Production System: Just-in-time and Respect for People. Yes, Toyota has enriched many lives at work, but still has a “takt” time of just a few minutes where people do the same work over and over again. But, many companies are finally recognizing that there is a better way – to be both productive and more humanistic.

People are capable of going to the moon. And people can expand greatly their abilities at work. For example, at Canon Corporation there are people assembling copiers with over 1000 parts all by themselves in around three hours. They are more productive than the assembly line or the conveyor belts with the same or higher levels of quality.

“A feel I just made another baby.”

These women at Canon are called “supermeisters,” and are assembling the entire copier by themselves.

Challenge people and you will be amazed at what they are capable of doing. Work should be joyful and fulfilling.

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