My favorite quote is by Eiji Toyoda, former President and Chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation and cousin of the company’s founder, Kiichiro Toyoda. The quote is:

“…employees are offering a very important part of their life to us.
If we don’t use their time effectively, we are wasting their lives.”

These words marvelously capture the basic way of thinking that all managers should have. Further, it summarizes a key aspect of the “Respect for People” principle in Lean management. That is, people want to make valuable contributions in their work every day, and management must take action every day to assure that it happens.

For more than 10 years, this quote has been an essential part of the visual control that I give to executives after Lean leadership training and graduate students after they complete my course in Lean leadership.

Eiji Toyoda will be 100 years old on 13 September. [Note: Mr. Toyoda passed away on 17 September 2013].

Quote source: T. Minoura, “Address to the World Class Manufacturing Forum,” May, 2002

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