Early Vermont Industrialists and Lean Thoughts
Through my internet research the past couple of nights, I stumbled across a book written by Governor James Hartness, father-in-law to Senator Ralph Flanders and father of Helen Hartness Flanders.
Sounds like genba management to me!"There should be no absentee management. The men who manage must be in close touch with the work and the workers—not merely through written or oral reports, but by actual observation."
In order to "Protect the Industrial Spirit," Hartness declared:
"Industries and the workers should be protected from incompetent managers, investigators and impractical theorists.
Industries and the workers go forward by actual work, not on manipulation of stocks, bonds, laws and schemes to wreck or boost for temporary gain of some one interest."
Hartness challenged Vermonters to some simple questions which, in my opinion, require a genba commitment to answer:
My favorite part of this book though, is in the "Habit Action, Basis of Skill and Proficiency," section:
"How the individual ability and skill, as well as the group ability and skill is only to be acquired by repetition that establishes habit-action.""Why repetition of operation is essential to acquisition of skill and special ability."
"Why a plant may be growing in size and paying dividends and may still be dead so far as the spirit of enterprise is concerned."
"We have many text books on the subject of industrial finance, of engineering, of invention, of industrial management, and all these books are written on the assumption that the human being knows his own kind. A study of our failures seems to reveal, however, that we have misunderstood the human being.
Our fundamental error in understanding our own kind seems to lie in the fact that we fail to recognize that man is a creature of habit to an extent not quite equal to that of the lower animals, but nevertheless to a degree that positively stands in the way of any man who tries to create or manage an industry without giving due value to this one element.
The effect of this characteristic of habit action is so profound that any disturbance in a plant due to changing the position of benches or machinery or changing the character of the work sorely interferes with man's efficiency.
If it is as simple as this, why the need of saying it? The need is brought about by the painful fact that one of the characteristics of habit action is to continue on without change even after the mind has apparently recognized that a change should be made."
"Success comes not from the mere word knowledge of these things, but through action."
Doesn't this hint at the dichotomy of Lean thinking? How do we challenge the current thinking, practices and theories yet stick to the fundamentals of good management: Respect for People and Continuous Improvement?
Have a great Thanksgiving holiday!