“Respect for people is horse shit”

By Lawrence Miller via lmmiller.com/blog   Article

“Respect for People” and “The Design of the System”

Michel Baudin, a fellow blogger and author, posted a video link of a panel discussion that included Jeffrey Liker (The Toyota Way, Toyota Leadership) in which British consultant John Seddon makes the comment that “This respect for people stuff is horse shit.” Seddon argues that what leads to improvement is the system and not an intervention to respect or deal better with the people. …

Respect for people is the result, not only of personal patterns of communication, but also the result of the nature of the system. In democratic societies, in which you elect the government and there is freedom of speech, religion and press, that system is inherently more respectful of people than a system that is autocratic and guarantees no freedoms. …

How Do You Design In Respect for People?

As a manager or leader you are a “systems engineer.” You are responsible for the design of the technical and social systems of your organization. Here are just a few ways you can design respect for people into your organization’s system.

  • On-Boarding Respect: How you bring people into your organization, particularly managers,  can set the pattern for the rest of their career with your company. Is a new manager brought into the company, given a corner office, a conference room in which to hold meetings, and provided an organization chart that defines his role in the world? I hope not. At Honda a new manager or professional, on their first day at work is handed their uniform, the Honda baseball cap, and assigned to work on the line for six weeks. Why? To learn “respect” for the “world’s greatest experts who are on-the-spot.” This practice is designed into the system and it does a great deal to instill an attitude of respect for those who do the value adding work.”

One Response to “Respect for people is horse shit”

  1. Mark Graban says:

    People can believe John Seddon (that it’s horse shit) or they can listen to an actual Toyota executive:


    Tanguay commented, “What makes quality is people and respect for people.”

    The Toyota plant here in San Antonio also talks constantly about “respect for people” when you go visit the plant. I doubt the notion is a Western creation and I know from learning from former Toyota people that the notion is very real, very practical and actionable, and the furthest thing from “horse shit.”

    Seddon is doing a real disservice to people by spreading his opinions in the guise of facts.

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