This is a post in my organizing ”between and beyond” series. Other posts are here. The purpose of this post is to explore Bob Emiliani’s emphasis on Respect for People.1
Bob Emiliani has written several books and papers where he presents Lean as a management system. He describes the interplay between the Continuous Improvement and Respect for People principles in Lean.
The Respect for People principle ”extends back to the 1900s.”2 Respect for People is ”deceptive in that it seems very easy to understand and apply, but it is not.”3
The principle consists of two parts at Toyota: (1) To ”respect others,” and ”make every effort to understand each other,” in order to ”build mutual trust.” (2) To ”stimulate personal and professional growth,” and to ”share opportunities of development,” in order to ”maximize individual and team performance.”4,5,6
Respect for People can ”never be completely comprehended.” ”It takes years of thought and practice” to understand it well.7
The Respect for People principle ”has been around for many decates,” but it has ”only rarely … been put into effective practice.” The focus has instead been on ”the near-singular pursuit of productivity and efficiency improvements to lower costs and increase profits.”8
Already in the 1800s, ”business thinkers … began to press for improved cooperation.” R. Whatley Cooke-Taylor wrote, for example, in 1891 about the ”strained relations often existing under the modern factory system.” He pointed out ”some grave dangers … which the future may have in store for us in this connection.” The ”cure” Cooke-Taylor proposed was ”that of co-operation.”9
”Co-operation,” in this case, meant a business ”operated jointly by labor and management,” combined with ”profit-sharing.” Respect for People was seen as ”a practical necessity to reduce conflict and help achieve higher productivity, lower costs, and better quality.”10
Taiichi Ohno wrote in 1988 that the ”most important objective of the Toyota System has been to increase production efficiency by … eliminating waste.” But Ohno also wrote that ”respect for humanity” is ”equally important,” and that the ”respect for humanity” has been passed down from Toyoda Sakichi (1867–1930), the founder of the company, to Toyoda Kiichiro (1894–1953), Toyota Motor Company’s first president.11
I think that the Respect for People principle is generally applicable, regardless of whether its Lean, Agile, or something else. And I find it interesting that Toyota’s Respect for People was lost with the birth of Lean thirty years ago. Similarly, I think the Respect for People in Sociocracy, i.e., the emphasis on equivalence,12 has been lost in Holacracy, where the process is all that matters.13
I agree with Bob Emiliani that the Respect for People principle is ”anything but trivial to understand.”14 Too many are too focused on processes and tools ”to notice the foundational principles.”15
1 Bob Emiliani, The Equally Important ”Respect for People” Principle (2008) (accessed 2017-01-14).
2 Ibid., p. 1.
3 Ibid., pp. 1, 8.
4 Ibid., p. 2.
5 Toyota Motor Corporation, The Toyota Way 2001 (Toyota City, April 2001).
6 Toyota Motor Corporation, Sustainability Report 2007, p. 57.
7 Bob Emiliani, The Equally Important ”Respect for People” Principle (2008), p. 2.
8 Ibid., p. 2.
9 R. Whatley Cooke-Taylor, Modern Factory System (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd, London, 1891), pp. 459–461.
10 Bob Emiliani, The Equally Important ”Respect for People” Principle (2008), p. 3.
11 Taiichi Ohno, Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production (Productivity Press, Portland, 1988), p. xiii.
12 Gerard Endenburg, Sociocracy: The organization of decision-making (Eburon, 1998), pp. 44, 167, 168.
13 Brian J. Robertson, Holacracy: The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy (Penguin, 2015), pp. 21, 110, 111.
14 Bob Emiliani, The Equally Important ”Respect for People” Principle (2008), p. 8.
15 Ibid., p. 5.