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Lean Gratitude

by Thomas Richert
November 21, 2018

Lean Gratitude

by Thomas Richert
November 21, 2018 | Comments (3)

For people unfamiliar or vaguely family with the term “lean,” the word is used to express a dynamic approach to work that seeks to continuously create more value with less effort. If you have not explored how this approach can radically improve your work you owe it to yourself and your organization to start that discovery process. If you have only explored lean superficially you have even more reason to take it seriously.

As you learn about lean it is easy to fall into a trap of believing it is all about using logic and reason in the workplace. The Toyota Production System (TPS), which has informed much of the lean thought process, was according to Toyota founded upon a scientific mindset. This mindset has clearly served Toyota well over the past eighty plus years.

What is often missed, and is a likely source of breakdown for organizations that fail with their attempts to adopt a lean mindset, is that powering the TPS scientific mindset is a great deal of emotional energy. This energy is most concisely captured by the Five Precepts, a summary of the teachings of Sakichi Toyoda as documented by his son Kiichiro and son-in-law Risaburo. They arise from the integration of life experiences with spiritual teachings.

A treasured wall hanging in the Toyoda family reads, “Heaven, Earth, and Man. Knowledge, Benevolence, and Courage.” The precepts are not a one-time, committee-driven values statement to be hung on corporate walls and forgotten. Kiichiro was drawing upon authentic beliefs to communicate an understanding of the inner strength people in the company would need to fulfill their outer purpose. They are powerful ideas, without which TPS would not have been possible.

As we approach the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday it’s appropriate to reflect on Sakichi’s fifth precept:

Be reverent, and show gratitude for things great and small in thought and deed.

With thanks and gratitude to the many people that have helped me on my lean journey. 

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3 Comments | Post a Comment
John Shook November 21, 2018
2 People AGREE with this comment

Thanks, Tom, for this great reminder, or prod, with inspiration from Sakichi, to be thankful.   And thanks for sharing the wisdom that "TPS" (or the "Toyota Way" or "lean thinking") is a matter of not only the scientific rational mind, but of the whole person, including the artistic, emotional, intuitive, and...the rest.  Nothing better for the soul that to take a moment to reflect on what we have to be grateful for.   

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Dusty Solis November 21, 2018

Most definitely, in my case I give thanks to my lean mentor for showing me the right way. Im also very thankful for the managers, lead men and operators that were and continue to be open to doing things differently. No matter the status quo. Thanks for sharing.

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Bob Williams November 25, 2018

Thanks for sharing Thomas. Reverence and humbleness keep us from thinking too much of self. It takes an inner strength to stop and recognize we are but stewards of the people, processes, equipment, and software we interact with each week at work. 

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