Developing people by focusing on great products are separate yet deeply intertwined activities, says The Gold Mine co-author Michael Ballé. In this video excerpt from last month’s first LEI Book Club, Ballé refers to the oft-repeated Japanese phrase of “Monozukuri through Hitozukuri” at Toyota. The best way to constantly build your employees’ technical skills and problem-solving chops (Hitozukuri, or making people) is to challenge them always to make the right products in the right way for the right customers (Monozukuri, or making products). By keeping these two primary goals at the top of your managerial goals, you will naturally boost the skills and self-confidence of your people while removing waste and achieving superior quality. And you might even achieve Kotozukuri, which is “the management and leadership oomph to keep people in these two things all the time.” Find a lightly edited transcript below.
“What got me interested in lean, and the heart of lean, is the day that a Toyota engineer told me that you have to develop good people in order to have good products. Our thing in manufacturing, we build products is Monozukuri. The heart, taste, and appetence to make great products. We do so through what they call Hitozukuri, which is developing great people. It’s a long story, but basically, I was fascinated by making people. It took me five years to realize that I couldn’t understand making people if I didn’t understand making products. So that’s why I got into engineering because it’s a sentence where you have to do both.
Then it took me yet another ten years before I understood that the sentence worked in reverse. You need to develop great people to make great products, but the way you develop people, which is what it shows in the book, is by getting to work on products, on Monozukuri. So this is really the heart and intuition of this, Monozukuri and Hitozukuri. The third term, which is rarer to see, is called Kotozukuri, which is the management and leadership oomph to keep people in these two things all the time. This is essentially the debate of the book, because the relationship between Bob and Phil builds. They need to keep people on these two things all the time.”
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