Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pay Practices Say More About Respect for People Than Words Say

Lean Leadership Lessons from Costco Wholesale
"To continually provide our members with quality goods and services at the lowest possible prices. In order to achieve our mission we will conduct our business with the following Code of Ethics in mind:
  1. Obey the law
  2. Take care of our members
  3. Take care of our employees
  4. Respect our vendors
  5. Reward our shareholders
If we do these four things throughout our organization, then we will realize our ultimate goal, which is to reward our shareholders."

I really like Costco's respect for people.

One thing to note is while "Costco pays the highest wages in the industry with benefits that are very good for any industry." to "workers" they don't pay the exorbitant executive pay most of the companies that scrimp on paying non-executives.  As I have said before I don't believe you can take executives seriously on claims they believe in respect for people when they pay themselves like nobles and workers like serfs.

The difference between real respect for people and just words is evident at places like Costco and Trader Joe's.  Customer's and owners benefit from organization that truly practice respect for people. Related: Focus on Customers and Employees - Respect for People

Monday, February 04, 2013

Lean Thinking Aids Innovation Even if Poor Management Labeling Itself Lean Doesn't

Response to LinkedIn discussion asking if lean and innovation can co-exist (closed access and I don't think LinkedIn understands how urls work anyway so links wouldn't help):

I would say we too often criticize lean based on very poor applications called "lean." Studying Toyota is what gave us the name lean. Toyota has significant investments over the very long term in robotics; they innovated to create the Prius (and still dominate the hybrid market) and invest in research on things including home building, biotechnology and a thought controlled wheel chair.

It isn't lean thinking that is the problem with long term thinking. It is normally other bad practices (having nothing to do with lean) that create these problems. Sure plenty of places saying they are doing lean also have stupid practices like cost centers, short term ROI needed on everything, MBO... None of those are lean.

Innovation and lean can work great together, as can other measures to improve the performance of systems (in this case systems around innovation). Innovation comes from those close to the process and those outside the system. It isn't limited to one or the other. 

Yes, lean thinking can be applied to new situations with specific adjustments. Lean software ideas take lean thinking and provide some common practices that are often useful for those involved in software development. Toyota was definitely a follower in applying lean thinking to software development not a leader. Which shows even a company doing as many things right, as Toyota does, has plenty of room for improvement.